January 31, 2020

sweet epi and not so sweet sisterly love

I pulled into the doctor office on two wheels.  Parked the van.  Told myself I made it.  Wondered how in the hell I was gonna get up the front stairs, the interior stairs, and not fall down while carrying a baby carrier and not having a bathroom emergency on the way. 

I saw a mom and 10 year old son leave the building.  She was not that far away but was headed to a different part of the parking lot.  I wanted to call out to her, but convinced myself that I would appear dramatic (something my sister always accuses me of) and waiting for her to understand that I needed help and head towards me seemed like it might take too long.  I opted to just continue in my mission to make it to the office.

I managed the two sets of stairs by saying in my oven-head repeatedly 'almost there.'  There was a 12 yr old boy who had gotten his shot before me and had clearly NOT signed that waiver to skedaddle.  He was NOT living on the edge and had waited the standard 30 minutes to be checked and was now exiting the door in a healthy state.  He looked at me as he turned back towards the door to hold it open for me.  I wanted to kiss him.  How the hell would I have opened that door? 

His face registered alarm when he looked at me, 'OH!  Are you OK?'  I managed to gurgle 'NO' but with my next step I was home free - in the office where all the chairs were filled with patients and parents and people who were generally not pulsating red.  When those peeps looked up from their phones and magazines, etc. their faces screamed 'Ahhh!  Look at you!!!'

I reached the counter and hollered, 'Help me!'   

The staff leapt into action.  I put the baby carrier down in the middle of the waiting room and started to rip my fleece and my zip up workout jacket off.  I was tangled.  The doctor came running.  She stripped my coats off and jammed a beautiful epi shot in my arm.  Dear sweet epinephrine. 

The office staff took care of Babykins.  My cell phone rang from 'Home' and I had no concept of time, so I told the doc it must be my Mom.  The doc answered it and in an excited voice called, 'We are treating your daughter.  She has epinephrine, and is doing better.  We are taking her blood pressure . . .'  Then she shrugged and handed me the phone saying 'I don't know who this is.'  

Turns out it was not my Mom, it was Curly.  She was all, 'Huh?  Who was that?'  I told her I was having an issue but that Nana would be there soon.

Unphased Curly:  "Oh Worst-baby has a HUGE poop diaper and I don't want to change it.  Can I wait for you to change it?  Are you gonna be home soon?'  

I would have been home had my body not blown up in response to my allergy shots. 

Me:  "No, I will not be home soon.  You are gonna have to change him.  Sorry.'

I still have no photos of this ordeal, but Coach and I went shopping on our last day in Dallas a few days after this.  We enjoyed this shop in a cute area called Grapevine.  These little signs made us laugh so much.  I made it really big so you can hopefully read some of them.  I don't even drink that often a)  I don't get out much and b)  I am a cheap date - but if I drink a little I just get sleepy.  Still I appreciate these hilarious wall hangings.
Then I texted a very anxiety ridden Coach to pass along Babykins' mom's number.  He had done some digging (aka contacting Pat's wife) and found the number for the doc office.  He had called to see that I had made it back and was relieved that I was going to survive. 

Babykins' mom texted that she would be there soon and the doc urged me to stop texting people and let them treat me.  Then my sister, Ann, called.  She lives less than a mile from the doc office.

Ann:  "I just called Dad and he told me what happened.  I am driving home from work.  Do you want me to come there?  (no - all good)  Do you need me to come and take care of Babykins?"  (no - his mom will be here in a few minutes).

Elle, Babykins' mom arrived.  She scooped up her slightly freaked out kid and came in to see how I was.  She is an A-list parent to work for, very appreciative and easy going, but I felt bad that I dragged her to the doc office to get her guy.

We chatted for a few and low and behold Ann walked into my room to join the party.  

Me:  "Oh, I told you that you didn't need to come."  

Ann:  "I know, but I wanted to see how funny you looked."

Me:  (turning to Elle)  "Sisterly love."  

As far as I am concerned the best part of this story happens next.  I know this has dragged on a bit, but I just COULD NOT fit it into one post.  I urge you to read the next post to get to the punchline, that was almost a punch-in-the-face.  It will make you chuckle.  And if it doesn't, you can leave me a disgruntled comment.  

January 29, 2020

red shrek

I did the smart thing when I started my allergy shots in October.  I signed a waiver that allowed me to leave the office the minute my shots were given.  Who has time to sit there for 30 minutes to be confident there won't be a reaction?  

A few times since Thanksgiving I got itchy once I got home.  Like palms, scalp, chest.  One time I got home and wheezed for awhile.  The wheezing and the body itches faded within an hour or two, OK maybe 3 tops.  The site of the shot was always crazy-ass itchy and puffy as hell.  This lasted for a few days.  I admitted this to the peeps at the doc office and they told me to take an antihistamine 2 hours before I arrived for a shot.  

Since I didn't always know when I was going to get a shot, I didn't always time the antihistamine pill popping at the right time.   Full disclosure:  sometimes I took it in the doc parking lot before I went in.  I never wanted to alarm the nurse, so I always told her I had taken it 2 hours prior.  All good, wink, wink.  

A few days before I left for Dallas I raced off to get my shots.  It was a day when Coach should have been home in theory, but theories are often laughable.  He had to work later than usual and was then going to head straight to Reg's away b-ball game.  I was planning to go in the wrong direction (from the beaten path of Irish dancing) to get the shots on my way/out of my way to drive Curly to dancing - but that was not going to be easy.  

Instead, I saw an after school window and I took it.  I popped a antihistamine pill about 45 minutes beforehand.  The minute Curly got home from school, I bolted.   Curly was watching the 15 month old who was napping, 'Give him his bottle when he gets up.'  His folks know that Curly was a wet nurse in a former life and they are good with her watching him for short stretches if I run an errand, etc.  Then I took the 7 month old with me to the shots.  Honestly, his folks would probably also be OK with 12 year old Curly in charge too - but I was like one kid in a carrier is a piece of cake.  

This was my first time getting full strength injections.  I got the shots and said, 'Great - see you in 2 weeks.'  Then I sneezed 3 times - like full, body-jolting sneezes.  I hoped I was not getting a cold as I was soon heading to Dallas.  

I walked down the steps of the building one minute later.  My palms started to itch like a mother.  Crazy, bright red itching, and I was bummed.  This was a Von Maur night for me, and I hoped the itching would fade soon.  I took a few steps closer to the car.  

My head.  I cannot even describe what started happening to my head. I felt like a cartoon character.  My forehead was pulsating and my ears started to feel like they were as big as balloons.  I was like 'Shoot - I hope this doesn't last long.  Don't want to deal with a headache.' 
Well here is a boring photo, but I was,
 um, a little
too preoccupied to ask the doc to take
a photo of my red Shrek face.
This is Coach's Texas waffle that he
 made at the hotel once we
got to Dallas.  It is true
everything is better in Texas.  Is that
even a saying?  Or is it bigger in Texas? 
Anyway - I am sure this was delish, but my
celiac self had enough allergy
 issues.  No gluten for me.

I put babykins' carseat in the car and drove out of the parking lot.  Um, not a headache.  My head started heating up like I had swallowed a stove.  I glanced in the rearview mirror and I looked like a red version of Shrek.  My features were messed up.  My lips were big.  My coloring was off-the-charts red.  The pulsating was unbearable.

I had to get home, right?  I had to get babykins home.  His mom would be there at 5 and it was 4:30.  I kept driving.  Then, despite the fire that was consuming my brain, I managed to produce a thought.  If I go all the way home, I am going to just end up driving myself to the ER.  This is silly.  

I was on a two lane road and the cars on the other side were not quite close enough to me to be a concern - but they would be a problem if I did not move fast.  I did a wide-ass u-turn in the Great White (12 seater, Chevy express, former airport shuttle for any newbies) and started heading back to the doctor office.  I was just a few miles away, but it felt like I had to climb Mount Everest.  

I called Coach.  No answer.  I called my Mom.  "Mom, (pant) get (pant) to (pant) my (house).  This (pant - Oh, hell - you get the idea) is an emergency.  I am reacting very badly to my shots.  Curly is home with world's-worst-baby.  Go be with her."  

(I don't think I have shared much about world's-worst baby - nothing Curly cannot handle but in this neck of the woods he is known as the fussiest small person alive.  We blame his folks who cave constantly and keep him plugged into their phones and other devices or carry him around to ward off tears.  It is literally insane, but not worth a whole post.  Becky watched him one day when I was in Dallas and she said 'Never again' - so it is not just me.)

Coach clicked in.  I answered.  My throat was not closing but I was panting like a fricking dog that had just pulled a sled up Mount Everest.  It was a huge effort to talk and drive and breathe.  "Coach.  Bad allergy reaction.  I am heading back to doctor.  Call babykins' mom and tell her to meet me at the doc office.  Can't talk."  

Coach later told me (because news flash:  I survived) that he could not stop shaking.  He wanted to call 911, but he didn't know my location.  He didn't even know the name of my doctor or the location of the office.  (Um, I have told him where the office is before, but that is another story that will never be told, because listening is not a thing for men and I don't have to tell you all that).  He wished I had kept him on speaker phone.  I guess I could have, but I was concentrating on staying alive and my thoughts weren't exactly crystal.  

Then my gut started to feel weird and I worried I would soil myself before I got to the doctor.  Death might have been a welcome alternative at that point.  I was not driving slowly - actually I don't know how I was driving, but if a cop had tried to pull me over it would have been an all-out replica of the OJ-chase in a white van.  No way was I stopping now that bathroom issues had started to threaten to undo me.

More to come, bear with me (you know I survive, so I think you can handle the cliff hanger here) . . .  

January 27, 2020

shoot me up with that there allergen, please

After suffering from seasonal allergies FOREVER I decided in the fall to get some help.  I know I have shared with you before that my biggest complaint is that the roof of my mouth itches to end all itching.  

Have you ever tried to itch the roof of your mouth?  How 'bout thru your ears?  Or down your throat?  If only a coat hanger would alleviate the pesky itchy sensation without bloodying my pie hole.  

When I was in college, I made an appointment one summer with an allergist.  He did a scratch test for about 105 things.  I reacted to about 99 of them.  The nurse came in the room where I was stretched out and, well -she sort of whisper screamed, 'AHH - are you OK?'

I looked like the hunchback of Notre Dame with my back blowing up like a fleshy red dome in response to the 105 needles pricked in me with allergens on them.  Fun.  

The doc sent me home with a binder of suggested treatments:  so many shots this week, then taper down to this, etc.  My folks took one look at it and said in unison (almost typed that unisom but that would imply that they were sleeping):  'This is over the top.  We aren't doing this.'  

Mind you, my brother Pat had severe allergies and asthma as a little guy.  My mom used to drag all of us to the doc every week.  We would watch him get his allergy shots.  Granted, I was never hospitalized with pneumonia as a 3 year old and never spent time in an oxygen tent, but my seasonal allergies raged out of control in the spring and again in late summer.  

My 3rd grade teacher complained to my Mom that I could not read when she called on me because I could not open my swollen itchy eyes enough to see the page.  My mom shrugged and was like, 'Yep, she has hay fever like her dad.'  The end.  

Childhood friends still refer to the trail of Kleenexes I left around the way-back of our red, Chevy Impala station wagon when we road tripped with them to Irish dancing competitions (where I sucked at dancing - totally unlike Curly).  
Getting started.

Enter the allergist I met with in September.  Motivation?  All of a sudden I realized that I was an adult and had not been pregnant or nursing in FOREVER (duh) and we had met our deductible, so WHY NOT?  I wound up going to the same allergist that my brother Pat uses.  She is blocks away from his house and a bit off the beaten path for me, but not terribly so.  

She tested me for less things, but she was alarmed at how quickly and angrily my skin reacted to her scratch test.  I started shots twice a week.  Just before Christmas I was told that I could switch to once a week.  After Christmas it would be every other week for a few sessions and then the glorious ONCE A MONTH.  Hallelujah!  

A few minutes later - welt city.

I keep a fairly busy schedule and racing off to get the shots TWO TIMES a week 12 minutes one way was a challenge.  Mind you, the shots are not offered during 8-5 hours.  I had to get them late Mon or Wed afternoon or in the late mornings other days (yeah, right).  I usually waited for Coach to get home on one of his early days and then I darted out the door calling over my shoulder which baby might need what while I was gone.  

No joke - thinking back on it - I have no idea how I pulled it off.  Not trying to seek praise here for being a super-hero, but I think it was one of those things that I did for 3 months while keeping my head down and just powering through.  Guess how excited I was to see a light at the end of the tunnel here?  

Hold that thought . . . 

January 24, 2020

family emergency in the shape of a haircut

I was trying something on at Von Maur, which is my happy place department store, 10 days prior to my Dallas trip and I cringed.  

The damn changing rooms have the brightest lights and a plethora of mirrors.  Rightfully so, but damn if the mirror/light combo didn't scream:  'Hey your hair is excessively thin!'  Ouch.  
In lieu of sharing a photo of my shiny scalp, here is a fashion question for all of you (because asking you to share your thoughts on whether or not you think my scalp looks horrible or not as awful as I think it looks is just NOT gonna happen).  This is my leg sporting my favorite pants (you can click on it to read the post about when I acquired them and my devotion to shopping for a deal) with a new pair of Ecco shoes that are 'plum' in color.  I was packing super late and never got to consult my girls about what looks good with what like I usually do cause I am 49 but clueless.  I sat at the airport re-thinking the shoes.  Also, can you wear socks with these?  I technically packed the shoes to go with another outfit but since I packed so late I THOUGHT the plum looked fine with the burgundy jeans.  I later realized once I had caught up on my sleep -no, in fact they did NOT look good, so I never even wore these shoes again on the trip and COULD HAVE just worn the dang shoes I wanted to wear with these pants.  I didn't bring them because not enough room.  While I was worrying that I was standing out for being ill informed about fashion, I looked around the airport and thought:  'Yeah ANYTHING GOES nowadays!'  

I have probably mentioned that the YEARS when the dang docs failed to diagnose my celiac disease led to me not absorbing my nutrients, and ultimately hair loss.  I am still working with a doctor to figure out what, if anything, might help to inspire new growth.  

When my hair gets long, it tends to drag and my scalp is that much more noticeable.  It wasn't until a WEEK after my dressing room cringe moment that I realized, 'Holy crap, I have not had a hair cut since a few weeks before Thanksgiving.'  I convinced myself that I NEEDED a haircut before Dallas so my hair would be lighter and fluffier and less 'wow - look at her scalp!'-ish.

By the time I realized this, it was Wednesday early morning and my flight was early Friday.  Crap.  I texted my hairdresser.  She texted back that she could do Thursday at 11:30 or that same day, Wednesday, at noon.  I have a preschooler who gets on a bus at 11:45, so that would not work.  I liked the same-day time.  I asked Mini what time she ate lunch at school.  11:45-ish.  Bingo.  

Mini was like, 'You are gonna need a note from a doctor to get me out of school.'  
This is a woman working at the shoe dept
at Von Maur.  She makes me laugh because
 the employees there are all put together and
 stuff and this woman TOTALLY reminds me
of Kate McKinnon from SNL.  Her hair is
falling out of her clip.  She carries too many shoes
boxes at once and I anticipate her swearing as
 she drops all of them some day.  She mumbles
 to herself.  And looks like she should have a
cigarette hanging out of her mouth.
 She keeps pencils in her hair.   

Me:  Like hell I do. 

I considered lying that she needed to see a physical therapist and then stopping less than a mile away from school on my way back from the hair place at Coach's work and getting him to sign a note.  But, then I was like - nope.  I need to borrow my kid for 35 minutes and that is the way it is and if the school doesn't like it they can bite me.  So, I told them the truth.  

Sometimes to get things done, you need to think outside the box.  I called the school and let them know we had a family emergency in the shape of my haircut need.  

compliments of - this is
the character she reminds me of!
Mini sat in the car in front of the place with her cell phone in case she needed me.  I left the van running because it is January in Chicago and I am not a monster.  She dealt with the three babies while I ran in and got a haircut.  Between 5 minutes drive there and back and 25 minutes of a cut, she was back in a flash.  She was equipped in the car with bottles and food pouches, etc.  She ranked the babies (two 1 year olds and a 7 month old) on their behavior/cooperation.  I could have predicted which ones would have been easy and which ones would have been a pain.

I loved my haircut, and my family-emergency-remove-kid-from-class worked like a charm.  

Reggie who cannot lift a finger around here to help me (not that Mini does either, really) was more than willing to offer his get-out-of-school-free-card abilities if I needed him.  He was like, 'Hey, I can . . . '  I declined to use his services, but thanked him for his interest.  

January 22, 2020

50th Bridesmaids style

Well this is much less enjoyable than bouncing puppy rap, until you know the backstory.  Mary Ann and I have the same house # but live on different streets.  Fun.  I am on the corner of the culdesac and my side entry garage faces her house.  We sometimes get each other's mail.  She was texting me to find out if we had a VERY important delivery.  Coach and I were meeting with our financial adviser at our kitchen table, so I didn't respond right away.  Curly was sitting at the snack bar - you can kinda see her arm up on the right side.  Mary Ann came tearing out of her house, checked her mailbox, and then stormed over to our front door and rang the doorbell and grilled the kids (cuz Coach and I were busy in the meeting) about whether or not they saw her package.  This all happened 2 minutes after she sent me a text.  She did not give me much of a chance to respond! 

Full disclosure - earlier in the summer we got a delivery from Amazon.  We don't use our front door much (cuz side entry garage) and we didn't notice the package.  It eventually made it in the house and sat on the counter top waiting for someone to claim it.  I thought a kid ordered a book for school, but it was right after Vancouver and Ed was getting his wisdom teeth out and Lad was getting into trouble with us, so it sort of fell off my radar and got buried (as things on my counter tend to do).  Turns out it was Mary Ann's daughter's book and she was hot to trot that it was at our house for days.  #great-neighbors

So that was the longest caption I may have ever written.  I was saving that pic to accompany my DMV nightmare story that I still have yet to share even though it happened in early August.  I knew this pic required a lengthy explanation.  Look forward to the DMV part of that day- it's literally UNREAL.

Anyway, thank you Mary Ann, aka world's worst neighbor, for that intro to my friendship saga.  (If you are new here and unfamiliar with Mary Ann - I suggest you do a search on the blog for Mary Ann stories.  You will be appalled.  Guaranteed.  Many, many links I could post.  One is titled 'cup o sugar'  - or something).  Aside from Mary Ann, I swear I DO have friends.  

As an aside to my aside, Mary Ann just so happens to be good friends with Cranky, who I highlighted in my last post.  If I ever write the book that I keep mulling over in my head that I call 'With Friends Like These', then you will get a detailed account of their nonsense.  I don't know that they have always been close, but at this point I don't think there is anyone else that can really tolerate either of them and their anal-ness for very long.

My friends are great and I can call them in a pinch and they would bale me out or lend me a cup of sugar, or listen to me rant, etc.  I tend to choose great listeners as friends because I talk a lot.  I would not trade my friends in for anything.  Hello Becky and Delilah! 

Here's the thing.  My group of friends is an eclectic group.  They do not know one another - at least not well,  Most have never met.  They have shown up at different stages of my life, and they rarely overlap.  This goes back to the issue that Coach and I have with couples that I touched on in the previous post.  Like Coach and I, I lack a 'group.'

On the 2nd to last day of this year, I will turn 50.  I am not all that worked up about it - but hell, I just turned 49 so give me time.  Or, maybe I will just shrug it off.  That sounds like a good plan and that is more my style.  

Over the years I have known/heard of people who have done a girls' weekend to celebrate their 50th.  Somehow this has become a thing in my mind.  I now identify my 50th with a destination surrounded by my besties, much like the little guys I sit for who from time to time have believed that a birthday is a place.  Like 'Chuckie Cheese' is a birthday.  

After reading many people's year end blog recaps and their resolutions, I admit to feeling a bit like 'Dang, so many people out there have a group, or people they do things with on the regular.'  People they vacation with, or get weekly coffee with, or celebrate New Year's Eve with.  

I admit to thinking more and more about my 50th birthday as if it were a girls' weekend.  If it were a destination, well then . . .  the closest thing that comes to mind is a scene from 'Bridesmaids.'  Like what would it look like if my friends who have mostly never met all became acquainted on this imaginary birthday weekend.  It makes me think of Ghostbusters when the guys say clear your mind and the one buster can't help but think of the marshmallow man!  

I picture my close friend from 2nd grade.  Marge never married and she is incredibly sheltered.  She is a great friend, and I love her dearly but I think she still cringes a bit if I drop the f-bomb in her presence.  

Then there is my babysitting compadre who I have been hanging out with for the last 3 or 4 years.  She cannot keep her mind out of the gutter, and she cracks me up.  When she comes over with the tots she sits for and I am feeding a fussy toddler, I say 'Put it in your mouth!  Put it in your mouth!' and Becky CANNOT help herself:  'That's what he said.'  It's like an automatic, and I thoroughly enjoy her.    

Then there are other straight laced mom types - some on the quiet side and some that can party with the best of them.  Some might be up for drinking games and some might be more content to sip a glass of wine and chit chat.  

I don't keep in touch with any high school friends anymore, except for Drew one of my high school buddies who lives in New York - he would NOT enjoy a girls' weekend.  My very best hs friend stopped talking to me a few years ago.  She lives out east now and she 'tired' of me and no longer wanted to be bothered with the frustrations caused by my middle child/family dilemmas.  I guess.  She never really said.  That hurt.  To me, those were really not the kind of reasons that you ditch a best friend after 30 plus years of friendship.  

My college friends are scattered all over the country, which is a little odd considering that I went to school in South Bend and TYPICALLY many SMC grads end up in the Chicago area.  Not my peeps though.

I love, love, love my Irish dancing friend moms, but they don't live really close to get together regularly.  They would be a hoot at my 50th destination b-day for sure.  They remain the best thing about attending long, grueling days at dancing competitions.  Bummer that they will not be in Ireland in April.  

I believe similar situations interfered with my girlfriend friendships as they did our couple friendships.  Changing schools wreaked havoc on my social life.  Kudos to Delilah for still keeping up/putting up with me even though our kids have not been in school for almost 7 years, and even though she always remembers my birthday and I have NOT remembered hers (this is the last year of that nonsense though! Watch out October!).

I attribute some of the shifts in friendship to people being busy and being pulled in different directions based on their kids' activities.  As with so many other peeps, they have their stuff and I have mine.  I have also noticed that I see some friends less because their youngest kids have graduated from our high school.  Our high school parenting years will not in the near future.  

Then, of course, there is all of you!  How fun/weird would it be to plan a meetup with blogging buddies?  My 50th is as good a time as any, don't you agree?  Who's in?  

Bridesmaids style 50th here I come!

January 20, 2020

bouncy puppy, 'Isn't this relaxing', & groupless

Even before I knew what I was going to write about, I knew I had to include this video.  Thanks YouTube, and thanks to whoever the brilliant man is that wrote the lyrics to this . . . it makes me giggle uncontrollably. 

So this is a tough topic to write about, not because it is life altering or jarring in any way, but because it is hard to articulate.  The gist:  it is hard to find friends as an adult, am I wrong?  And even harder, perhaps, to find friends as a couple.  Seinfeld was not wrong, people.  

Long story summed up (OK, I tried to be brief but that did not work out really well - shock):  Coach and I have been married for 23 years.  Our first group of friends were couples that we met through his physical therapy graduate school program.  Lots of fun, but then people scattered and moved to different areas/states to start their careers, etc.  I was working as a nanny so I was not harvesting any work friends for myself and certainly not stumbling across any couples to hang with.  

We moved to a house from our one bedroom condo when Lad was 15 months.  Imagine my disappointment when we were surrounded by original owners (houses were built in the late 60's).  We managed to find the one geriatric corner of the neighborhood.  

Back when I only had Lad and Ed, and less so when I had Tank, and more sporadically when I had Mini (you get the idea), I attended daily morning mass.  Yes, I swear a lot, but I do have a strong faith and I did enjoy starting out my day with a good message and time to pray and time to reflect and be centered.  The more kids I dragged to church, the less centered I felt as I attempted to get to 9 am mass on time (and honestly I was probably cussing under my breath at an alarmingly increasing rate - nowadays, the gloves are off - or the concern that my kids hear me cuss ranks low on my list of concerns -  so swearing is my bitch.  I still attend mass and pray - not daily, but four-letter words seem to manage my stress level just fine.  Amen).  

Anyway, I met another young mom at mass who had a son Eddie's age.  I invited her over for a play date.  It went fine.  She was quiet.  I am not.  Good balance, right?  Then I invited Ms. Quiet, her sight-unseen husband, and their one year old over for dinner.  To our home.  Epic fail.  Sight-unseen was all about computers and didn't follow sports.  Nothing in common AT ALL with Coach.  

For reasons I cannot explain other than I WANTED US TO HAVE FRIENDS, we decided to meet them out for dinner without kids.  I am chuckling just thinking about this.  In the middle of dinner when the only sounds were Coach and I scraping our plates because THERE WAS NOTHING TO SAY and we wished for more food to eat to pass the time and fill our wordless mouths - Sight-unseen says:  'Well, isn't this relaxing.'  I guess that was code for 'well, since this sucks so bad I will count it as relaxing.'  

Honestly, it was a glorious cringe-worthy moment that we now share anytime we are with friends.  Lesson learned.  No more hanging with those two.

I ended up meeting young mom friends at the pool or the library story time or the park, etc.  One couple had a girl born days before Lad and a son born days after Ed.  We hit it off and had a blast with them until they moved away.  

Fast forward a few years to when our family included the first 3 boys:  I don't remember how I met Cranky- I think the pool, but let's just say our kids lined up age wise and we got along great.  Our husbands clicked.  We had many fun times, but gradually I started to see the light.  I already have two sisters who like to boss me around or sneer at the way I keep my house, and how I speak my mind, etc.  Let's just say I didn't need a 3rd sister to get in my face.  

Cranky is the most controlling, self-righteous person alive.  (I could dedicate an entire post to evidence, but I will limit myself to a few examples) . . . Cranky went out of town once and asked me to pick up her son, Lil Macho, for his soccer game.  My kids played soccer too, so most likely I was headed to a nearby field.  I got to the house and her brother told me Lil Macho had already been picked up by someone.  I was steamed.  I asked her about it when she returned.  

Cranky:  Oh, I had a couple of different people lined up to give my kids rides places just to be sure they got where they were going.  (*^%*#@#!)

When we put our house on the market, she told me that she doubted our house would sell since we hadn't really 'done much to it.'  I then listed all of the improvements we made.  *I do recognize that she was most likely annoyed that we were moving from the neighborhood.  They had elected to continue to remain in that same neighborhood a year prior when they put an addition on their house.

Over the phone one day, I was chatting with her about how I had yet to get an email from Lad's upcoming little league coach.

Cranky:  Well, are any of the dads in his 2nd grade class coaching this year? 

Me:  Yes, Mr. D.

Cranky:  Oh, yeah, but Mr. D is very competitive.  He will probably only draft kids who have been ranked as #1's on his team.  Lad isn't that good.  He was probably ranked a #4.  You know what I mean?

Me:  (who now recognized that her 'you know what I mean' mantra was code for 'I am overstepping, but I am hoping you don't recognize it as such.')  No, I don't know what you mean.

*The little league teams forced coaches to comprise their teams of so many kids at each level.  No one got to pick all #1's.  

When we yanked the kids from Catholic grade school, we left Cranky behind.  I had already begun to allow space to grow between us anyway, but the school switch helped widen the gap.  Unfortunately switching schools also meant that we started to be left out of social events that we would have been included in if our kids still went to the school.

Mini asked me about this recently.  She wondered if people were mad at us when we changed schools.  Not at all.  It just happened naturally - out of sight, out of mind.  It stung a bit at the time, but I understand how it happens.  I was no longer milling with moms in the Catholic school parking lot and we were certainly not attending the big school fundraisers that served as the social peak of the school year.  It had been fun while it lasted, but now our kids were in the public school and we needed to branch out.  

Branch we did.  We were invited to some very fun Halloween parties, Superbowl parties, pool parties, etc.  We hosted a few hopping St. Patrick's day parties, too.  Ultimately though, we could not hang.  Coach and I are not big in the party scene.  We could not keep up with the drinking and the couples' weekend excursions.  Bit by bit those gatherings started to include younger, new-blood families whom we didn't know, and we often skipped them because we were busy with older kids' stuff like sports and dances and being home while our teens kids entertained their friends, etc.  

Moving out of geriatric land (which we did when Cranky got ticked 12 years ago after Curly was born) did us no favors (well, we love our newer/bigger house and we are in a much better grade school district), because we ended up with the world's worst neighbors.  For real.  The guy across the street is super fun and easy going.  His wife is a monster.  The mom with 3 boys the ages of my 3 middle kids cannot bring herself to say hello to me because 10 yrs ago her son's friend ended up becoming better friends with Tank - she called and screamed at me siting all kinds of weird insults for how I am a bad person.  She needs medication.  No joke.  People fear her wrath and everyone tells me they feel sorry for me that I fell in ill-favor with her because no one would want that.  Then there is the impossible Mary Ann.  Don't get me started.

Anyway, Coach and I both click really well with one other couple that we met after our switch to the public school.  We have remained tight with them over the years.  We have been invited to their lake house with ALL of our hoodlum children.  They are just as busy as we are (although they have more of a social calendar than we do) and we don't get together as often as we would like.  

We are also NOT great at planning.  We rarely arrange to meet another couple out for dinner in advance.  Instead we roll as last minute peeps.  How tired are we?  Who needs to be driven where tonight?  Are there any games we plan to attend?  By the time we think, hey let's invite someone over or out for dinner, etc. the 'someones' in our corner have already made plans.  

Some of the people who have kids our kids ages already had their set 'group' by the time we showed up to our new school.  Then by the time kids land in high school, forget it.  Parents of kids they meet in high school already have parent-friends from their grade schools or sports or whatever.  So that's kind of it really - we just don't have a 'group'.  

This is not for lack of trying.  I have invited other couples over for dinner, or drinks, or dessert - the kids have run around the house or played outside.  Remember the guy that asked Coach when his last facial was and then told me that my (FABULOUS) 7 layer taco dip might be better with jalapenos?  He was lucky not to wear my 7 layer dip facial-style by the end of the night.  

In summary:  we wasted too much time hanging with Cranky and company, we have CRAPPY neighbors (so long as we count the would-be-potential-social neighbors close to our age) - hello Mary Ann, and we missed our window when we switched schools midstream and people already had a solid 'group'.  

Most of the time Coach doesn't wish to be social, because he has been on his feet for an obscene number of hours all week treating patients and TALKING to them too.  (talking is definitely more my 'thing', but I am over here in toddler fun talking gibberish of all things).  

I should just be content to hang with my girlfriends, right?  Well, tune back in and I will share the background on that scene next.  I might even re-post that bouncy puppy video unless you want me to post a photo of Mary Ann.  Wait, that might be fun!

In the meantime, do you have couples that you hang with?  Do you or your spouse tend to NOT want to be social after a long week at work?  Have you found that even though you no longer NEED a sitter, getting out of the house with other couples is tricky because of being busy with your kids' activities/games (insert the dreaded Irish dancing schedule here)?  Do tell.  

January 17, 2020

Who did THIS?, game changer, Dallas here I come!

I did think of one more question, so if you read my last few posts and that format irritated you - have no fear . . . it is just one question.

About a week after Christmas, I gathered all family members and shouted:  'WHO DID THIS?'
Ho, ho ho-ld on - WHO. DID. THIS?

I found my 24 year old Santa in pieces on the end table in the living room.  
Of course no one knew.  Anything.  I have my suspicions, but honestly my little Santa was so fragile (he had been glued before - but only when he was in 2 pieces not 17) that someone COULD have knocked him over and not noticed that they had accidentally PULVERIZED him.  I am not buying that, but believe it or not this post is not about how clumsy and goofy my offspring can be.  

Part of the way there - just the arm
with the hearts on the bend-ie thing.
A few nights ago when my list of to-do's was so long that I feared I could not sleep, I stayed up too late and attempted to glue him.  He looks kinda sad now, but I am NOT tossing him in the garbage.

The background:  My good friends Dee Dee and Corey gave him to me in Dec '96 - the Christmas that Coach and I got engaged.  He proposed Dec. 16th, and Dee Dee presented me with the Santa shortly after.  She was like:  'Get it?  Santa with a heart, because you got your wish for Christmas?'  It was the perfect gift.
He always stood like that -
kinda leaning on one
 foot, so he is back together. 
I just ask you to steer
 your eyes away from the
missing armpit and the
 large hole behind the heart.
 He was darn right
 crumblie and I
 broke him further
the more I touched him.

Backing up the bus a bit further (who is eye-rolling here, cause they were thinking this would be short?):  When I attended a Catholic high school, we were required to get service hours.  I joined the local Leo Club, which was the like the junior Lions Club.  That year a man named Corey and his new bride ran the club.  They were young, hip, and fun, AND he was a professional football player.  It just so happened that year that he was not picked up by a team, or something.  Sue me - I have no idea what the proper jargon is here.  

We did service projects and met every few weeks in the library basement.  Sometimes I would say things like, "I can't come that day, because I have to babysit."  When Dee Dee found out she was pregnant, she walked up to me at one of the meetings and (tilted her head way back, cuz she is super petite and short and always looked really put-together) and looked way up at my towering, frumpy-self and said, "Hey, you're gonna be my babysitter."  

Game changer.  

Corey signed with the Bears soon after (don't ask me the years he played here or there - do I look like Reggie?).  I babysat for them through high school, college, and after college here and there.  I cannot EVEN tell you how great this couple was to me.  Oh, and I just so happened to be CRAZY about their insanely cute offspring.  

My favorite kid quote while sitting for them . . . at bedtime the brother would say his prayers:  'Sweet Jesus make me a gooood boy.'  The younger sister eventually learned the same prayer, but she said it like this:  'Sweet Jesus, make me a goooood boy and girl.'

While Dee Dee was everything I aspired to be, ie:  REALLY pretty, petite, short (physically not possible - I was 5'10"), spunky, with good hair, etc. I was schleppie.  Big time.  I know, I know, it was high school, who wasn't?  No, People.  Someday when we are all having a girls' weekend complete with late night snacks and glasses of wine and staying up all night chatting - I will break out the evidence pictures.  No one can compete with the cringe-worthy-ness that defined me.  Promise.

Anyway, Dee Dee and Corey got to know me.  They would come home from a night out and then hunker down to chat with me.  They listened to me and made me feel important.  If I was to compare Dee Dee to the girls that appeared similar to her in my high school . . . the ones who also made great wardrobe choices, knew how to apply makeup, and had great hair, then I would wonder why Dee Dee seemed to enjoy hanging with me.  She never made me feel schleppie.  It was a mystery to me, but one that bumped up my low self-esteem a few notches.  This couple laughed at my stories and were always interested in what I had to say or in what was going on in my life.  

When I got grounded for NOTHING - topic for another post, Dee Dee was like, "Your folks are CRAZY!  You are such a good kid.  They have no idea how good they have it.  (She was not wrong) Listen, invite a couple friends to my house any night you can't take the 6 week-life-sentence grounding (true - 6 weeks!) and I will get you Blockbuster movies and pizza and Core and I will go out, and your folks will think you are just babysitting.  This might work out really well for me, because HELLO automatic babysitter!"  Plus, they paid me really well.  Bonus.  

When no one asked me to the prom, Corey - who is hands down one of the greatest men I have ever known - said in his southern twang, "Girl, I tell you what I'm gonna do.  I'm gonna take you to that prom and I am gonna tell those young fellas what they are missing.  Just you watch."  

Well, that is not the route I went, but it totally thrilled me that Corey would be ready and willing.  I'm not gonna lie - I played that scenario over in my head a few times of the boneheads in my high school watching me walk in to prom with a football player.  This guy played on the Superbowl team and wore a Superbowl ring for real, and he swore up and down that people who overlooked me were going to figure it out one day.  

Those of you who are curious, Corey is not his real name.  Clue:  he plays the cowbell in the Superbowl Shuffle while wearing a fedora.  Insert, "Can I get a little more cowbell?"

Eventually Dee Dee and Corey would come home and Corey would say, "I cannot stay up this late," and he would go off to bed and Dee Dee and I would talk for hours.  I so needed a connection like this at this time in my life.  

When I went away to college, I wrote them letters- especially the year I studied in Ireland (OK, so I didn't exactly study - again, another post).  Corey once told me I was the most 'letter-writing-est person he ever met'.  I guess my letters were like my blog back then.  Dee Dee insisted that she take me out for my first margarita after I turned 21.  She left Corey with the kids and we went out as soon as I got back from Ireland.  From babysitter, to bar buddy!

The next day we re-did the entire
 for a big lunch because
 Corey's son was also in
 town and available this time. 
Any guess how
 hard it was back then to keep
my house orderly
and clean for one visit, let alone
back-to-back VISITS?
 Well worth it.  This is
Corey's son Bill,
 who is awesome -
hanging out with Curly.
Mini sporting a certain
someone's Superbowl ring!
Shortly after we got married, Dee Dee and Corey moved back to Dallas where they are from.  We have always kept in touch, but have not seen one another much.  

Once when Corey came in town for some speech about 9 years ago, he called me up.  "Hey E, I gotta get over to your place and kiss those sweet babies of yours while I am in town!"  I pulled my grade school kids out of school at noon and made a big meal.  Corey talked football with the big boys who were like 9 and 12 at the time while Reggie and Curly climbed all over him and Tank asked him about the Superbowl Shuffle and Mini asked him to come and see her dollhouse bunk bed.  So fun!

As you read this, Coach and I will be on a plane or will have already landed in DALLAS!  (which is fitting because I currently have a zit the size of Texas under my nose that refuses to die).  Coach is teaching there Saturday and half a day Sunday.  I am going to hang out with my friends while he teaches and the four of us will get to spend time together as well.  I am very busy getting everything ready to a) travel, and b) leave kids behind at friends' houses, but when I sat down to write this

I realized how excited I am!!!!