June 29, 2020

good grades form, Lamaze breathing and gentle parenting

(In case you missed the last post, you can read it here, or not . . . it's a pandemic and you have control over so little - I don't want to be bossy, just so you aren't confused, this took place in August 2019, carry on) . . . 

Coach and I arrived home from Greenville on a Monday evening.  As soon as I started plotting out the DMV adventure, Tank started to pace.  He texted Frank (driver ed teacher), who as Tank anticipated, texted him back to say don’t be scared, just relax and ask questions of the instructor so you know what is expected of you.  

Tank hoped to make it to a golf practice round for the high school team late morning the next day. My plan included getting to the DMV as early as possible, so the golf thing was a possibility.  Let’s be first in line.  Get ‘er done!  I told Tank I would come home after my early workout class and eat and we would leave by 6:50 am.  He agreed but assured me he would not sleep at all the night before.
Not sure if I shared that Coach and I tried mussels
 for the first time in Greenville.  They were delicious. 
After reading this story play out in the next
several posts, I assume you will wonder if
we had wished that we had just
 stayed in Greenville.  Forever.

As we were leaving that morning, I looked over my paperwork.  Then I remembered something.  ‘Hey, Tank!  Don’t forget that paper about your grades that I told you to put in your drawer.  Grab it and let’s go.’

Backing up the bus here a bit:  in April, Mini came home with a sheet from drivers ed.  ‘You have to sign this and then my counselor signs it to say I am not failing in school and I turn it back into drivers ed.  Tank probably got one too, and he needs to turn it in too.’  I copied the sheet that she handed me, signed them both, and lined up my two teen wanna-be drivers.  I told them to get it signed at school and turn it into drivers ed.  Stat.  Nodding.  Me repeating.  More nodding.  Me thinking it was done.

Early in the summer I got an email from drivers ed saying Tank never handed in the grade form.  Shock.  I called the drivers license place and they said he just needed to go get the sheet signed.  If they gave me other instructions, I do not recall.  This was before we left for Vancouver so it felt like a lifetime ago - from late June until early August.  

Mini assured me that Mr. Frank reiterated the importance of that 'good-grades paper' being handed in at the start of each class.  Since I am not a drivers ed student, I was not fully grasping protocol with the good-grades sheet.  I am letting myself off the hook because me telling him to get the damn form signed is where my involvement ends.

So here we were driving 25 minutes to the DMV (in August 2019) also known as the 3rd circle of Hell.  I began to suspect that Tank had taken a Lamaze class as he demonstrated deep breathing techniques in the passenger seat.  Being the gentle parent that I am (at times), I chose my words carefully and tried to reiterate what Mr. Frank had told him.  

Me:  ‘Just repeat what they want you to do.  Take a deep breath.  Getting worked up is going to cause you more trouble.  You will do fine.  Laddie failed his drivers test the first time but he passed it the next day.’  

We mostly drove in silence then, because I decided talking was not helping.  

June 26, 2020

Greenville and prepping for DMV thanks to big Frank

This story was originally drafted back at the end of summer 2019 - I have bumped this back a MILLION times for more pressing bits and if I don't share this string of stories that are connected SOON (this is the start of an entire series, sit back and relax it gets entertaining) - a certain teen is going to be needing to renew his license . . .

One of the best meals I have eaten since
 being gluten free.  I had pork chops and
something veggies.  It was just delish.
 In Greenville.
Tank turned 16 (on 12/5/18!) in early December, but we were in no hurry to enroll him in drivers ed.  Eventually I realized that by the time Ed left for college Tank needed to be ready to take the wheel.  He started drivers ed just before he turned 16.  You can read here about the struggles to get this kid a permit.  Coach survived that ordeal.  Barely.  Now it was time for me to take one for the team.
The next night we went to this cute little place
 that looked over a beautiful park.  While we
 were finishing our meal the sky got crazy
 ass dark and the clouds rolled in and the
wind picked up to the point that I thought the
umbrellas were going to blow away. 
Meanwhile back home on the ranch, there
 was lots of nonsense happening.  Of course.

Tank has a way of connecting with people and he soon had the drivers ed instructor, Mr. Frank, wrapped around his finger.  We would see Frank pull into the grocery store parking lot while on an official driving lesson with another student, and Tank would call out, ‘Oh, there’s my boy Frank.  We have to go say hi.’  He relished the humorous exchanges he and Frank had during class and he would come home ready and willing to share some fun fact that ‘Frankie baby’ (as Tank liked to call him outside of class) had taught them.  

In the spring (of 2019, mind you), Mini started drivers ed right on Tank’s tail.  In the dream world I live in, I envisioned Mini managing to get her license before Tank, or (since that was not possible) I fantasized that Tank would rarely drive once getting his license, have no major issues, and then gladly hand over the driving responsibilities to Mini in the spring when she turns 16.  (edited to add:  this was my thought process BEFORE I took Mini on practice drives.  Not the most confident of drivers, and rightfully so).

Perhaps my reluctance to have Tank drive came back to bite me.  

Coach and I went out of town the first weekend in August (2019! - thus the resteraunts, and travel, etc).  He was teaching a class in Greenvillle, SC and I went along to relax, read, write, lay by the pool, eat out, etc.  Let’s just say things back at home were a bit bumpy, so that will most likely be the last time we attempt something so silly.  (More on that later).  

Cute little park with a play
 going on.  Super fun.
The screwballs will either accompany us or we will farm them out (which we did to an extent for this Greenville trip, but we farmed out the wrong ones), or we will beg our newly wedded former sitter to come and stand guard over the inmates with his delightful wife.  I am thinking the parents of these newlyweds will then hate us, because the newlyweds may opt to never reproduce after a long weekend with our crew and they will get no grandkids.

Before we left for Greenville, I gathered all of Tank’s paperwork for the DMV.  Because he didn’t get his permit until Halloween of '19, he could not get his license until around August 1st.  I told him that we would go to get the license when I returned.  Mr. Nervous Nelly insisted that he would want to drive more before the test.  Coach barked at him, ‘Knock it off, you’re ready.  No more practice-drives necessary.’  

The night we returned though, Coach did take him out driving one last time.  All systems were go, or were they?

June 24, 2020

Are those undies in a bunch or is that elastic just old?

I've been pretty devoted to my workout regiment during this pandemic.  I kind wondered if I could lose 5 to 10 pounds if I REALLY tried.  I figured this was my shot, theoretically working out as much as I wanted.

If anything, I've learned that I'll survive if Coach ever decides to leave the big company he works for, hang his own shingle, and do his own physical therapy thing  . . .

implied here:  I would lose my pricey health club membership that we get complimentary, if he changes jobs.  Prior to this:  a scenario I could NOT entertain.  I would miss my classes too much.  

Early on in our worldly-timeout, I was sleeping in a bit - when my bladder allowed, so not all that often, and working out late morning.  Now with kids back to work I need to help juggle cars, plus I babysit here and there, and my high stress levels cause me to roll out of bed early to workout.

My regimen, in case you are interested:  

#1 BIKE:  Sat, Sun, Tues, Thurs - 10 miles, give or take, on the bike at Coach's clinic.  This takes me an hour.  I burn 500 calories.  No patients are there on weekends so we can wander in whenever.  

I removed my shirt to towel off my sweat when I was done recently.  I'm telling you, I enjoy tons of perks being married to a PT.  Jealous?  
Coach got a new office coordinator recently.  When he and I were tip toeing out before patients one morning, she was like "Oh, that's nice that they let you use the pool."  Um, no.  We do not have access to the health-club's pool-  this is just us being sweaty.  
On Tu/Th we need to be out of there around the time the first patient shows up.   So, Coach and I haul our asses out of bed before 6 am in order to squeeze in an hour at his clinic.

This lead to me behaving a bit like I was Queen of the Clinic, and my kids still make fun of me.  One night at dinner months ago the following conversation happened: 

Coach:  Melanie has an early patient tomorrow, so if we want to workout we have to leave here by 6 am.  

Me:  Wait a minute.  Aren't you the boss?  Can't you tell Melanie NOT  to schedule patients that early so we can workout without having to get there crazy early?  What the hell?

I mean, honestly this was back when their volume was next to nothing, so I was kind of like - she's open all flipping day, tell this one patient SORRY NOT SEEING EARLY PATIENTS ON TU/TH.  My husband works his tale off, and I hold down the fort over here in busy-town, so I'm ready to cash in on the perks.  Big sigh.  

Coach gets me, so he knows that I was completely serious, but fortunately for our marriage he was still able to laugh and pretend not to take me seriously.  True love.  I digress . . .  

#2 FAMILY ROOM WORKOUT:  7 days a week I do what I lovingly refer to as my 'family room workout'.  Tools:  10 pound dumbbells and a band for about an hour.

*I prefer this portion of my workout to be completed BEFORE my offspring wake up and stare at me eat breakfast.  If they talk to me while I am counting reps, I get annoyed and lose track.  As you can imagine, my family room workout and my struggle counting when they distract me leads to MANY well earned imitations.  Imitation, the highest form of flattery, right?

I was doing some jumping lunges and 200 weighted knee-ups on the fireplace, but Coach told me if I was going to continue doing that I should stop complaining about my knee because that was NOT helping it.  'Ole Queenie was like: 'Well if you haven't fixed it by now, I am not listening to you' but then went ahead and listened because his 'real' patients swear by him.   So after I eliminated the knee-damage stuff I extended my walk.

#3 WALKING:  I walk briskly 4.4 miles - it takes me around 1 hour.  On the days I don't bike, and I have to skip my knee straining shit, I extend the walk to 6.2 miles, or 1 hr 25 min.  

Ed helped me download an app to track my calories and my workouts.  Trust me, I'm NOT dieting- but interested in how things add up.  I do eat the same things most days, except dinner, so easy to track.    

Ed found me a running app to track my walks recently vs guessing how far I was walking in an hour.  Turns out I was actually burning 439 calories vs the 265 the other app would give me when I typed in:  walked an hour.  So, suck on that original app.

Bottom line - and yes, pun intended, my not-dieting self burned a ga-zillion calories, or more specifically upwards of 1,400 calories/day.  I don't buy gluten free dessert, so that was't part of my intake.  I cannot weigh myself because the scale I know and trust and sometimes say bad words to, is inside the locked health club.  I assume I have lost some weight, but while I have burned more than I eat every single day and sometimes by quite a bit - I am NOT WASTING AWAY.

Conclusion:  It is physically impossible for me to lose more than what I assume is my initial 5 lbs . . . I'm fine with that.  I don't think I look fat, I just have that "Hey I wonder if I could lose another 5?" thought.  It ain't happening though. 

I know you were nervous that I was going to share
 a photo of my underoos.  Stop it.  I would never. 
These shoes were bought pre-pandemic and I was
 glad to have them stashed in my closet.
  Aren't they the best colors?
At some point when I kiss my pandemic excess time good-bye, I will not be able to workout for 2 to 3 hours/day. 

So recently my underwear started to bug me.  It was not staying on my cheeks.  It made me think, is my butt shrinking, or is the elastic shot in my underwear?  

Since I cannot recall when the last time was I bought underwear, AND I have access to mirrors, AND my pants are not falling off of me, I believe I need to order me some new knickers.

Not sure how this post got to be so long when I didn't even tell you about the tendinitis in my shin and how my dearly devoted cured me by sticking a needle in my shin and I survived. 

Please share: your their least favorite exercise, or least favorite sport rotation in gym class growing up (mine volleyball - weird because I am so tall, but bruised arms, how is that fun?), or something you have gotten PT for.

*edited to add:  Coach and I woke up at 5:50 am to workout this morning (Tuesday) and we could not find the keys to his clinic.  Lad used the clinic to workout late the night before . . . I had to skip my bike ride.  Grrr.  Coach drove to the clinic to see if Lad dropped the keys in the parking lot after waking Lad up and watching him search high and low.  Um, Coach found them in the clinic door in the lock.  Can you say GRUMPY?

June 22, 2020

more dad jokes, and a special delivery interception for a certain delightful neighbor

If you missed Friday's installment of Coach's dad jokes, I urge you to check it out here.  It rolls nicely into this post, which I initially tried to combine as one huge post, but I felt strongly that this Mary Ann standout had such stand-alone potential that you might appreciate it all on its own.  

Oh, any newbies:  Mary Ann is my incredibly self-involved neighbor who holds herself up as a VERY Christian woman.  She has done things over the years like:

1.  demand I sew her kid's sweatshirt when the pocket got torn in a backyard game of little boy football, 

2.  crossed the street in a huff to instruct me that under no circumstances was I allowed to race her to school in my van (even though my not-so-discreetly racing her was such a rush and my kids were THRILLED with me, their do-anything-to-encourage-kids-to-get-in-the-car-on-time-for-school unsung hero)

3.  insisted visitors to our house move their parked car from her side of the street (perfectly legal to park there) citing that the mailman might not deliver her mail,

4.  and called to scold me for organizing a huge fundraiser for our parish school that inadvertently interfered with one night of her husband's causal basketball league.

Last night I was crazy tired.  As in, Lad brought home 'gluten free' soup from a restaurant where he has been working part time and I ate it and then woke up at 3 am.  Game over.  I honestly wish I knew:  stress, or gluten.  Coulda been either.  Regardless, tired doesn't even cover it.  

I was standing in the kitchen making food.  Coach walked in with the mail.  

Coach:  I just ran into the Mary Anns (Mary Ann, her husband, and their recent HS grad daughter) as they were about to go on their nightly walk.  I congratulated daughter for getting into such a prestigious school.  

I asked her what she was going to study.  *Neuroscience.*  So I told her, way to take the easy way out.  (insert Coach laughing at his own joke, I mean that was kind of implied at this point, but just to be sure we are all on the same page).  Then I said, good maybe you can figure out what is going on in your dad's noggin.  (more self-indulgent chuckles).

Me:  squinting - I guess because I thought it might help me comprehend shit better while I was insanely tired and my brain hurt . . . more so after hearing his conversation with the  Mary Anns.  I kept nodding as his laughing trailed off and I walked over to the mail he just brought it, because there was a black bag.  Hmm, what's this?

People, it was a Victoria Secret bag addressed to Mary Ann.  
Tempting to leave the address readable in case you, my faithful readers, wanted to drop Mary Ann a note and include some instructions on how to be a good neighbor.  Seeing as how I JUST posted about how she could have been expecting a delivery of something personal like sex toys, or a new broom for her to fly around on . . . I found this package super hilarious.  She just so happens to be someone who gets her undies in a bunch about stuff . . . pun intended PLUS a bit of foreshadowing . . . my Wednesday post is all about undies getting bunched.

I envisioned Coach telling his Dad jokes- like 'check your dad's noggin' -to the family while gesturing wildly with a Victoria Secret bag in his hand addressed to a certain grumpy neighbor who hates it when we get her packages.  

I just couldn't.  I doubled over.  Coach did NOT get the humor.  

I was all:  Um, you were waving her bras and thongs around while conversing with the Mary Anns.  Why don't you get it?  (um, this is a joke, we did NOT open the package so we really have no idea what was in there.  It was most likely something very tame and boring).

Coach:  Well, I didn't get our mail until AFTER I was done talking to them, so I was not whipping her bras around in my hand while I was talking to them.  Sheesh.  

No good, regardless of the sequencing here - I saw it play out in a specific, insanely comedic way.  I was lost in an over-tired fit of laughter.  

Tell me you get it.  Funny, right?

Coach:  Reggie, go toss Mary Ann's new lace-covered essentials back in her mailbox before they get back from their walk.  Hurry!

When Mini got home from hanging out with her friends, I described my vision of how things almost played out.  Mini found the humor in it.

I am keeping her, twisty turban and all.  

June 19, 2020

Dad jokes, in excess

Last week is the first time I heard of Dad jokes.  I mean, I have experienced my share of corny jokes told by a dad that make everyone cringe, but I didn't know this was a named category.  

No sooner had I heard them classified as Dad jokes, then Coach delivered some whoopers out in the yard.  Directed across the street.  In a voice that was WAY louder than necessary.  The kids were poised and ready to play volleyball, but they stood shaking their heads.

Coach had 5 yards of dirt delivered on our driveway last week.  OMG - this is the Mini story I wanted to add to my Mini tale from Wednesday, but I was drawing a total blank.  OK, before Dad jokes, I must share . . . 

Coach reminded me like 100 times that the dirt was coming.  

Coach:  Make sure they dump it in front of the small garage door.  They are coming between 10 am and noon.  OK?

Me:  Yes.  I got it.  

The next day . . . me walking while talking to Delilah.  My phone got a text message, but I was TALKING so I didn't look at it.  After our call, I see the message from Coach reminding me of the dirt delivery, the importance of placement, etc.  

I arrive home from my walk and the dirt is there, fortunately dumped in the right place.  (Would a dirt delivery guy really dump it behind a big van so that the big van could not get out of the garage?  We may never know and for that I am grateful).  

I come inside, and Mini shares the details . . .  the doorbell rang:

Guy:  We have dirt.
Hey, what is that in the garage behind that amazing
 heap of dirt?  Oh, it is a pool waiting for
the dirt project to be done so that the deck
 can get stained and my spa can be re-installed.  

Mini:  OK?

Guy:  Dirt for Coach Shenanigan.  

Mini:  Oh.  So you are going to hand me a bag of dirt?

Guy:  No.  I am going to give you a truck full of dirt.

Mini:  Oh.

Guy:  Probably . . .  on the driveway.  

She may or may not have been wearing her twisty turban, but regardless she was super confused. 


OK, back to the yard . . . our family is playing volleyball.  A family Mini sits for walks by on their evening stroll.  The little 5 year old girl has just learned to ride a 2 wheeler.  

We all congratulate her, then Coach HOLLERS:  Hey, don't you know there is a speed limit in here?

The dad: (sees all the dirt on the driveway, and he calls across the street to Coach)  "Looks like you're going to have a fun weekend project."

Coach: Yeah, I can use some extra hands, are your kids available?  Then she'd be able to call that a dirt bike.

Who even is he? 

A few nights later Ed had his college buddies over for some drinking game in the yard.  One of the guys came in to use the bathroom.  

Coach:  Too bad you guys couldn't get a good night, huh?  

(it was a beautiful night and I was in the study so I couldn't see the kid's face, but I assume it was masked in confusion because the kid stumbled a bit:  Oh, because it's so nice out?  Ha.  Yeah.)  Insert image of me pounding my head against the desktop.

Am I right in assuming that these count as Dad jokes?  Can you honor all the dads out there for Father's Day and share an example you have encountered recently? 

I have a few more examples, compliments of Coach, from yesterday but it is tied into another story that I will share next time.  Since I am posting it separately it might count as my shortest post ever, in case that is important to you.  This gem involves Mary Ann, so get excited.  

June 17, 2020

I was only fiddling around

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the study writing on my computer.  Mini was having her zoom fiddle lesson behind me on the couch.  FYI - Reg, Mini, and Curly have been doing zoom/face-time lessons for their Irish music for a few years, so this is not new.

Anyway, Mini's phone rang.  She was getting a video chat call from her friends.  She tossed me the phone and whisper-shouted to me to answer it.  "They've called like 4 times, tell them I am in my fiddle lesson and I will be over when I am done." 

Well, isn't this a very interesting situation?  I mean, come on - this kind of video-chat-with-teen's-friends opportunity does not crop up all that often.  I did as I was told, sort of.

I answered Mini's phone and ran into the next room.  I saw 3 of her besties on the video chat.  They busted out laughing at the sight of me.  Not sure why, but I think it is safe to assume that they just weren't expecting me.  I swear I am really not THAT funny looking.

I delivered the message and apparently the thought of Mini being in a fiddle lesson is hilarious because more laughter.  I know this, because while I am not funny looking I am also not so funny that I can make a fiddle lesson funny.  

I returned to my computer via tiptoe so as not to disturb the lesson.  Then I had a great idea.  I took a video of Mini over my shoulder on selfie mode - a mode I have only ever used on accident, remember I'm nearing retirement-home age?  I then sent the video clip of Mini in her lesson to her friends.  

Side note #1:  Mini never knows where her phone is.  This situation has necessitated that I have her besties' numbers in my phone.  During real school year times, I would text her main BFF:  Tell Blondie such and such and tell her thanks for EVER looking at her phone.   

So, her friends enjoyed that glimpse of Mini's fiddling self.  

Then yesterday I found myself at the computer again during Mini's lesson.

Side note #2:  Mini's teacher:  major nerd.  Very nice guy, but better if he just play fiddle and avoids conversation.  When I am accidentally in the study during her lessons, Mini turns to me afterwards and groans.  They she imitates him.  

So, yesterday . . . I put my phone on selfie mode in order to capture him in full nerd mode.  Ex:  he likes to tell her what town in Ireland certain tunes originated in, his communication style is choppy at best, and he just comes across as socially awkward.  

Mini enjoys fiddle, but she is more like:  yeah, cut the chit chat and let's review the tune.  

Well, Mini caught on to my trickery as I taped part of her lesson.  Then we both couldn't stop laughing and captain nerd actually took credit for Mini's smiling face:  "Oh, I saw that you thought that part went better too, because of the look on your face."  Brutal.  

Also, I sit on a yoga ball at my computer.  Towards the end of the lesson, I may or may not have rolled my keister backwards off of the ball in order to, well, shall we say, release some gas build up.  (um, if you don't enjoy fart conversations and you will forever find me rude, then chose 'may not' and if you occasionally understand that you have to let it all hang out, then choose 'may'Feel free to identify yourself in comments:  I find you rude, or let loose sister.)

I honestly forgot that I had company in the room,  - in case you ever doubted my ability to tune the shit around me out, here is proof.  Fiddle lesson, me focused on blogging, and completely blanking on the fact that I was not alone.  

More importantly, whatever giggling or explosions were happening in the room were being shared through the microphone of the ipad.  This also slipped my mind.  Well, Mini struggled to maintain her composure after that.  

My silent laughing, as I almost rolled off of the ball, did not help matters.  I fear that I will not be allowed back in my study when Mini has her next fiddle lesson.  

Tell me I'm not alone.  Any other 2 year olds out there?  Have you tried to make your kid, spouse, someone chuckle when they were supposed to be doing something real?  

June 15, 2020

Curly-ism and life-with-Tank moments


Last week I noted that Curly was using a giant plate to make her lunch.  Plastic plates I bought so the kids would not break my real plates, but no one really uses them anymore.  

Anyway, all food groups were represented, which was weird because in our cave of teenagers Curly has learned to eat standing up, a little of this, a little of that.  Wait, sandwich?  What's that?

I asked her:  "What's up with the big ass plate, etc?"  Well, her friend with the gma with the handy pool has twin siblings a year younger and the mom calls all 3 of her kids to the table and passes out their plates with lunch prepared on them.  They all sit down and eat.  At the same time.  Lunch.  Curly apparently witnessed this and her face was all WHO KNEW?

I explained to my youngest-one-in-curls, currently with no knots, that she missed it, we used to do that.  I would make a dozen PB&Js and cut up fruit and dish out goldfish by the handful and slices of cheese and maybe a yogurt all while the gang sat together around a crowded, crayon-strewn, sticky-ass table threatening to poke me with their rounded, plastic flatware if I didn't hurry up with their gruel - this our table, where at least one cup of milk was spilled daily.  

Sorry Curly, but now kids wake up at lunch and make breakfast.  Everything is a free for all.  I am putting cereal boxes away at 2:00.  Dinners are more organized, on certain days, I like to think.  The upside is she has no bedtime - and the rest of this rat-pack used to go to bed at 9 ish at her age and they NEVER watched the kind of movies she is exposed to on the regular.  

She continues to pine away for the glory days lately at lunch:  gets out her big ass plate and makes an organized, uniform, well-balanced lunch and sits at the table alone.  I think this is what experts write birth order books about and why some kids seek therapy, or maybe it's cause those kids were ditched by their mom and bitch sisters when they left to go to the mall.  Just saying.

Life with Tank:

The key is, don't let your guard down, don't take the bait, and don't take words that tumble from his mouth too seriously:  

#1:  When Ed went to the dealership in late May for the accounting internship interview, he came home to find all of us sitting around the island, chins in our cupped hands, waiting to be told what it was like out there, in the world.  Were there masks?  Did you still shake hands with people?  Was there traffic?

Ed:  Well, two ladies came in to interview me . . . 

Tank (interrupting):  Wait, so did you ask to speak to the man in charge?

He managed to wait until we all stopped in our tracks and stared at him before he busted out laughing.  Thank you Michael Scott for what you have turned my son into.  

#2:  After work one day Ed was explaining why he was late getting home.  

Ed:  Well, I had to reconcile some of the stuff we had input.

Tank:  Oh, so car dealers work as priests now too.  You reconcile people when they tell you their sins and shit?

(sensing no laughter at this one, Ernie fumbles around in her notebook:  wait the best one is coming, promise . . .)
#3:  I was racing around trying to get on my zoom call for my writing group in early May.  It was my turn to read 3,200 words and I started dinner a tad late, and  - well, even when I don't have to leave the house I run late.  The things we learn about ourselves during quarantine.  

Anyway, I begged Mini to help me get the zoom set up.  Remember me, the fake 80 year old?  She and Tank came into the study where I plopped on the couch and Mini messed with my laptop (bought to participate in my writing class while I was in Ireland for World Champs that were then cancelled, but that's OK because just telling the kids:  "Can you grab my laptop for me?" makes me feel like a grown up).  Zoom wouldn't let me in without my video being on and it should've just come on but it was being cantankerous and Mini had to go to settings.  Bottom line:  I was late.

Host:  Oh, hi Ernie.  We already introduced ourselves, so go ahead and introduce yourself before we get started.  (I know most of the people, but we introduce ourselves each time in case new folks show up).

Me:  boring introduction . . . while I am saying BLAH BLAH BLAH, Tank is frantically waving a paper at me.  I grab it from him.  He and Mini double over, silent laughing, off camera.

I am up to read first and it is tough to concentrate when Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are hovering in the room trying to make me laugh.  I am waving at them frantically to get the hell out of dodge, while eyeing my self in the laptop to make sure I don't look like I am a lunatic waving frantically.   Eventually they leave and I am stuck wondering if the meeting attendees hate my voice as much as I do for 3,500 words.  

After I read and get my comments and love their ideas and suggestions, I settle back to listen to the next reader.  Then I grab the paper Tank kept trying to hand me.  In chicken scratch he wrote:

Next time they tell you to introduce yourself, say:  Hi, I'm Ernie.  I'm an alcoholic . . . Oh, wait . . . I think I'm in the wrong zoom meeting.

Fortunately I was on mute while the next reader was reading so he didn't hear me burst out laughing.

Tank.  He leaves his crap everywhere, but OMG he is a hoot.  

So I thought I might have space to share a Mini moment, that I sort of 'created' and videoed partly, but that will have to wait.  I know you will be on the edge of your seat until Wednesday.  I can't wait for you to tell me if it was worth the wait.

In the meantime, have you got anything to share about how your older kid got different treatment than the younger kid, organized lunch, or early bedtimes?  Your favorite zoom screw up?  

June 12, 2020

back to the grind & Tank-speak

It was bound to happen.  *heavy sigh*  I started up babysitting again last Friday (June 5th).  I keep reminding myself that I essentially already had a  break, and while it did not fall in summer months, it was similar to a summer break nonetheless, so getting back into the swing of things shouldn't be so tough.

One family I sit for needs care in the summer a few days a week.  The grandma lives on the neighboring culdesac and she typically watches Billy 3 days and I do two.  That poor woman was strapped with Billy since the pandemic struck.  It came as no great surprise when we were free to move about the cabin . . . world a bit, that she baled and headed to her home in Florida.  Billy's mom asked me if I could start sitting for Billy again, and if I could do 5 days a week for most of June.  I swallowed hard and tried not to sound miserable, when I said, "SURE!"

In the summer my 'two' days with Billy technically become Mini's days.  It started out last summer with her watching Billy at Billy's house, but since the dad works from home and he likes to interfere and say, get the baby out of bed if he hears him whimper three minutes into his nap, Mini almost went bananas so I requested that they just drop Billy here.  

Translation:  I do more than I would do if he weren't here, AND Curly is happy to do loads of his care so Mini has it made in the shade.  What can I say, it's a family thing.

Billy is 18 mos.  His brother, JJ, is 7.  JJ's summer camp is closed so he shows up here most days.  There has never been a more annoying child, not badly behaved mind you.  (Note:  Mini has sat for JJ for a few years for date nights, so her made in the shade status was dropped when JJ entered the picture).  

Curly panicked after the first day with JJ, saying "Was I like this?" and insisting that she might have to call all former sitters and apologize to them.  That's when I assured her, YOU WERE NOT LIKE THIS.  

JJ knows nothing except screen time.  I mean, he has a phone at 7.  Should I stop there?  Also - he owns and is familiar with every video game ever created.  I suppose he is kind of like an only child, although I know many only children who are well adjusted and pleasant and do not feel that they must fill the void that some people might call peace and quiet with a thousand words just to hear themselves ramble.

JJ:  Oh, I almost forgot.

Me:  What?

JJ:  I had a campfire last night.

Me:  Great story tell it again . . . I did not SAY that, I just thought it.  I know I sound horrid but the kid grates.  I promise.   He skinned his knee today and the drama . . . he told me at least 5 times that his mom was going to be SO upset.  I was like, good thing you're tough.  

I almost fell over when the mom arrived and she was SHOCKED to see his knee.  So there was a scab there and it fell off, there were no stitches, no amputations.  I let my passive aggressive parental advice roll off my tongue hoping she might pick up on my subtle hint:  "Ha, boys will be boys."  Of course because nothing gets past me, I was able to put two and two together and I get why JJ is the way he is.  

Hardly worth mentioning these owies, right?  Billy:  in baby swing, and the little girl who Mini sits for (who cries every time Mini goes home and who tells her:  "But you're my sister!") is swinging on the other side of Billy - so high that I cropped her out.  Her brother is sitting on a swing because they walked over to our house to use the swing set. 

JJ does not know how to pump himself on a swing.  He also cannot ride a two wheeler.  Ed keeps wondering, as parents do you not know what you are doing to your kid?  I decided JJ's issue is that he is so used to screen time that when actual events happen when he interacts with people he obsesses and over-focuses on it.  Sad, I guess.  But hello parents, there is info all over FB and the news about the importance of limiting screen time.  At a loss.  
Honestly I think being at my house is good for him.  Reg and Curly had their BFFs over today and they included him in a game of memory.  They did not let him win, and they didn't feign interest in shit they weren't interested in.  Real life, bringing it over here at no extra charge.  New tagline for my babysitting services?

Oh, Mini has another job Mon, Wed, Fri with a neighbor family (see kid in pic above) so on those days while grandma is gathering herself in Florida, I have both boys.  Since I do not rely on summer income, I have offered to pay Reggie and Curly so they can earn some college dough.  In exchange they can do most of the tough stuff like playing, entertaining, dismounting from high chair, wiping hands and face after eating, and for Curly even the occasional dirty diaper, which she did because I was making cookies . . . that might be her last time doing that this summer, or ever.  

Curly got a notebook out per my instructions and started to jot down days she helps me and doesn't ditch me to hang with her friends.  Um, her good friend takes her to her grandma's pool several times a week and I want to cry because a) I am jealous and b) I have to do the heavy lifting in the sitting arena solo.  

Reg, when I told him I would pay him to help out and suggested he do something fun with JJ.  "Ha.  You could not pay me enough.  No thanks."  I still make him do a bit with him, because last time I checked I am the boss. 

So this was NOT even what I was going to write about.  I will have to hold off and share a recent Curly-ism with you next week, and I think I will detail some of the more entertaining life-with-Tank moments (get excited)

. . . for instance, Ed got an accounting internship at a car dealership.  Many moons ago, I used to sit for a family with 8 kids who owns the dealership (and when I say sit, I was at their house daily and wanted to be no where else, these were my people - before my NFL people who I recently saw in Texas).  

Ed came home today (3rd day on the job) and I asked him what family members (ie:  kids I once potty trained) he crossed paths with.  

Tank was confused:  "Wait the Maplelots own an accounting place?"

Ed:  "No, it is part of the dealership.  Think of Dunder and Mifflin and how they have an accounting department."  

Tank nodded.  

**See what Ed did there?  He introduced Tank-speak, aka breaking things down and relating it to the show The Office.  Sometimes it is the only way.  Now if they had Office references on the upcoming ACT, Tank would ace it.**

Anyone back to the swing of things, like working?  Or does anyone have a kid who must be spoken to in show references only?  Or do you also know a poster child for over-abundance of screen time?  Do tell.