September 30, 2020

rendez vous, si vous plais

After our successful backyard, photo shoot I placed a desperate call to my folks to borrow my dad's car because the Kia died.  He never drives because he is stuck inside during the pandemic.  He has leukemia and he CANNOT catch this dang virus.  

All summer my friends have encouraged me to ask my folks if we could borrow dad's car.  Mom drives a jaguar and she usually drives him to his doctor appointments.  Any idea how helpful it would have been to have an extra car during this hectic summer?  Dad drives a Buick Rendez Vous - maybe from 2010 or before.  

Not like I was asking for the keys to the jag.

Coach didn't urge me to call, knowing my red-headed-step-child status in the fam.  He did suggest that if I did ask to borrow the car, that I promise that only Coach or I would drive it.  He figured that might make them relax a tad.  

My mom was kind of caught off guard when I called.  Lad was starting a job, ironically at a car dealership 45 minutes north of us, THE NEXT DAY.  Ed was still doing his internship at the other car dealership, also far away but not the same direction as Lad.  Coach needed to get to work, and I would need to drive people places.  

If you are old-enough not to have to e-learn right now, then you might be out of practice, but trust me - the math did not add up on this.  We were a couple cars short of being mobile and I was a few relaxing days shy of not losing my mind.  I'm not even sure I used that correctly, but I was in panic mode.

My mom sputtered a bit.  Dad was busy and she couldn't ask him, so she agreed.  Hesitatingly.  Really???

Ed dropped Mini and I off to get the car, then we ran to Walmart for her phone.  I saw school supplies:  "Grab a bunch of notebooks and stuff," I ordered her.  Always with the multi-tasking.

The next day, we learned that the Kia would be getting a new engine, but Ed would come home in yet another loaner car.  I honestly am not sure that is right - how did we get that loaner?  I sometimes feel like the detective in the Pink Panther movies.  (thanks GIPHY).  

Anyway, before Lad realized I was borrowing a car from my dad, he told his new job that his first day would have to be Tuesday.  

Now we were back to 3 cars:  red minivan with new brakes, the great white, and a loaner car PLUS MY DAD'S CAR . . . the Rendez Vous.  Four cars for 6 drivers:  bonus.  

I was ready to return Dad's car and Coach was like:  wait a minute.

He felt the Great White needed to be checked over.  Was it making a noise?  

Ah, she looks so perfect in the shade so we can't see her peeling paint.  We have to be careful not to park it behind Mary Ann's driveway (pictured on right) because she no like that.

Me:  (eye-roll) Yes, it makes lots of noises.  It's old.  Like me.  

We decided to drop the Great White off at the local shop to have it checked out.  This worked since Lad was home.  He followed me over there.  Now we were back to 3 cars, our usual low-functioning, high-stress, who's-on-first status.  

When I drove Curly to dancing that night, I called my mom.

Me:  The Kia needs a new engine, but it will be free.  Yippee.

Mom:  (disbelief re: the Kia, but quickly switching gears) Can Dad get his car back then?

Note:  I have only been in possession of dad's car for like 20 hours.  Not EVEN  a full day.  

Me:  Um, well - here's the thing.  Don over at the car place is looking over the Great White to be sure it's all systems go.  I will keep you posted.  Probably tomorrow.  

The next day, she called to ask about the return of Dad's car.  Again.  I wanted to call all of my friends and shout:  SEE?  I TOLD YOU.  

We only borrowed it for a few days, imagine if I had asked for it for the summer?  I guess like my grandpa used to say:  IT'S HELL TO GET OLD.

Fortunately, Don agreed.  The Great White is old, like me.  (He didn't draw the parallel).  If we expect to keep it long-term, we should plan to put lots of money in it.  I love GW, but it's not a long-term option.  

Closing a gas cap with electrical tape is all the rage,
here in Beverly Hill-Billy land. 
Sucks when the tape loses its stickiness.

We got GW back and I dropped Dad's car back at his home, and we all slept better that night.  

Then Ed went back to school, and the car juggling continued.  Lad drove our car to his job.  He was waiting to buy a used car until something acceptable turned up.  How dull would life be if there were available cars for more than half of our drivers?

As an aside, since we are sort of speaking french here with the Rendez Vous . . .  merde- that was my take-away from high school french class.  It translates to 'shit'.  I think I took 3 years.  I was awful.  Could not speak the language.  Did OK translating on paper.  

I attended an immersion weekend.  We weren't allowed to speak English.  My friends were going.  It was the only speechless weekend of my life.  I now know what it was like for my mom when she was considering being a nun (true story).  She had to be silent during set hours in the convent.  

I'm surprised Coach hasn't insisted on a similar 'only french spoken here' weekend at our home.  He's not a cultural guy, but the silence he might embrace.

Anyway, I FORGOT that the other people on the weekend could understand french.  Like, maybe they were there to practice being silent like me?  In the cafeteria, I turned to my friend, pointed at the food and said, "C'est merde."  Translation:  this is shit.  No, I am not sharing my high school transcripts.  

Anyone else suck at foreign language?  Have you said something that qualified as an 'oops'? Who's tired of talking about cars?

September 28, 2020

still with the universe & say cheese

More on how things were getting nutty over here, or nuttier than usual: 

We had our grad party Saturday August 15th, and then Sunday night, the shit hit the fan.  

The teen's KIA died - right at the same place that the Tribute died back in March.  Lad was picking up Mini at a friend's house.  He called to say the car was dead.  Huh?

If you are following this, then you realize we had one car in the shop, a loaner car, the great white, and now a recently purchased used car that was dead.    

Coach was grilling dinner.  He sent Tank to go pick up Lad and Mini who were stranded in the dead Kia.  They couldn't get the car over to the side of the road.  Tank came home with Mini.  Lad waited with the car.  Coach and Ed scarfed down dinner and then drove over. They stopped by a friends' house to borrow jumper cables.  No go.  Damn it!

Mini's phone broke, she needed me to take her to Walmart, my least favorite place.  On earth. 

We recently decided Reg should play golf for the high school, since it's one of the only sports still happening in the fall.  He just participated in the high school soccer camp, but soccer was bumped to spring.  Tank plays on the high school golf team.  This made sense, right? 

Coach winced:  I haven't worked with Reg all summer.  The older boys like to golf and they always want to go.  Reg might be pretty bad.  

Mini:  See, isn't this what I always say?  Reg is the forgotten child.  

That doesn't make me lose sleep or anything, seeing as I grew up glossed over.  Shit.  

Coach planned to take Reg to the driving range after dinner, but now he was trying to jump a car that wouldn't start.  A car that we just bought in May.

To keep things interesting and stress-free, I insisted that everyone get dressed to take a family photo.  I know, I know.  I never pretended to be sane.  

Backing up the bus:  my sister, Ann, used my SLR camera to snap 20 photos of our family during the grad party.  She does a decent job of taking a photo, usually.  I didn't bother to look at the pictures . . . till the next day.  Um, a portion of Lad's face was cut off by Curly's mop.  Hello?!

I was hoping to use this pic for a Christmas card, but the missing part of Lad's face was a little distracting . . . so I begged everyone to prepare to pose for another photo.  Nothing fancy.  Ed was heading back to school a few days later, so I wanted to get it done.

Some of the kids were like, it isn't THAT bad, just use it.  It doesn't look too bad here, I admit BUT if you could see the full photo you would find it odd that Lad's face was partially hidden when all the other faces were in full view.  Full disclosure:  my hair also looked thin as a Jennifer Lopez dress with the light shining behind it.  Even Curly cringed.  She was confused because she swore I had a really good hair day at the party, it was the lighting or something - but it was icky.

I struggled to lock down a picture time, so earlier in the day I just assigned 'after dinner'.  Well, our after dinner time became a tad more tense than initially anticipated with the car thing happening and Coach trying to get Reg to the driving range.  

I failed to line up someone to take our picture.  I thought about calling Betty, Coach's former office manager, but I decided it was tough to call a friend and ask her to be here at an undisclosed time, so I didn't bother.  I hoped a neighbor would be outside.  As a last resort, I thought I could just use the automatic timer feature.  

Those of us not off messing with the car were poised and ready, translation:  I messed with my hair, put on the same dress I had on at the grad party.  Everyone else looked fine, I always need a bit more effort. 

Lad, Ed, and Coach walked in from the car ordeal.  Lad was on the phone talking to the tow place.

Me:  OK everyone, get in the yard for the picture.

This is where everyone hugged me and told me how much they appreciate my efforts to get a Christmas photo taken in August, then they skipped outside with arms linked.  

Lad was hoisting a chair on top of a table on the deck instructing me to put my camera on it.  I was peeking through my camera and telling my eager-to-help people to back up as they were too close to the camera.  

I started to feel the pressure of pulling this off.  I haven't auto-timed on my SLR in forever.  I couldn't find it.  Believe it or not, there were hecklers in my yard.  I may or may not have given birth to them.  Just as I was about to give up, a voice called out:


No, it was not Mary Ann.  Good guess though.

It was a car I didn't recognize.  It was a woman with sunglasses on.  I was so confused, till one of my kids hollered, "Hey, it's Betty!"  

I have NEVER seen her drive down our residential street before, but apparently her boyfriend's mom lives nearby and they drive past our house sometimes.  When Betty used to work for Coach, she used to say that she wanted a live feed to watch as we road-tripped to a national park.  She found our family dynamics/antics entertaining.  I assume that she  drives by our house sometimes because she misses the nonsense.  

Not gonna lie, I miss the glory days when I could call Coach's work and get instant advice, assistance, attention . . . like:  "Oh, you don't want Coach to know that?  OK, I will work it in somehow, but I won't tell him that you called.  Don't worry." 

So, Betty saved the day and snapped a bunch of photos.  I mean, Reg looks like he's social distancing from us, but at least his face isn't hidden.  Ann has no problem barking at family members to take a photo, but barking isn't Betty's style.  I was happy to check that take-photo box, so thanks Betty for saving the day just like the good 'ole days.  

ANYWAY, Coach raced off with Lad and Reg to hit balls.  Mini and I went to Walmart to replace her phone.  It was a quick and painless trip to Walmart, praise the Lord.  

Coach came home, bummed that the golf place closed before they arrived.  Nuts.  

The Kia update . . . good news and bad.  The engine is blown.  But, the manufacturer was having trouble with these engines and they are replacing them for free with a brand new engine. 

In closing:  Our used car will have a brand new engine.  Our Christmas card photo is taken.  Coach came home at lunch on Monday and took Reg to hit balls an hour before tryouts.  Reg made the golf team (which is essentially no-cut), and was grumpy about it initially because he is a perfectionist, but a week later he is improving and has stopped pouting.  The car situation got a bit more interesting, because of course it did.  That's a story for another day.  

Anyone else ever have two cars in the shop at the same time?  Or have you ever had someone take a photo of you and they cut off your heads, or otherwise screwed it up?

September 23, 2020

Universe, stop it already - unrelated to covid 19

We spotted a bride and groom on the
beach when we went to see the
 sunset one night in Michigan.


The universe lately, well it's just driving us crazy - 'driving' being the operative word here.

When we drove to Michigan, Aug. 7th we took two cars.  This allowed us to divide into:  

1) relax on the beach group or

2) play golf group.

If you recall my spa that was invaded by raccoons, then you know I opted for the beach.  I don't golf.  Why get sweaty and frustrated chasing a tiny ball around a golf course, when your golf clothes could mess with your tan lines?  I prefer the option to get wet, read, and nap.  

When we arrived in Michigan, I scolded Coach for taking the exit SO FAST.  He sort of cut us off, Ed was driving the Kia and we were in front of Coach when he buzzed past us and exited first.  

Coach:  Um, yeah.  I didn't have a choice.  There are like no brakes in the minivan.  

Me:  Oh, shit.

When we got home, I texted one of the brothers at the dealership where Ed is interning in the accounting department.  So, not sure I have mentioned this, but I babysat starting as a teen until I was out of college for a family that owned several car dealerships.  When I met them as a 12 year old, they had 3 little ones.  They ended up with 8 kids.

In March our 'teen car', a Mazda Tribute died while Mini was practice driving with Coach.

Of course the boys sort of blamed Mini for 'killing' the car.  Honestly, if a car is going to die, then let it die during a pandemic, I always say.  We really weren't going anywhere.  We reached out to the brothers (whose diapers I once changed) who now own, co-own, or work for their dad at his dealerships.  They shared some possible good 'teen replacement' cars.  

After all of our chats, they asked Ed to send a resume.  He landed an internship doing accounting for the summer at their dealerships.  Since it's really hard to score an internship a) after freshman year, and b) during a pandemic . . . he was thrilled.  

A bonus to being tight with this awesome family is that they look out for us - thoroughly check over a used car before they sell it to us, and they give me a family discount.  Sweet, right?  Did I mention that I potty trained most of their offspring?  Paybacks, people.  

I think I blogged about the car that was perfect, and how they agreed to sell it to us, but then Charlie (the brother I nicknamed Baby Face as a tot) forgot to set it aside for us and it got sold.  Ouch.  So, back to the drawing board.  We ended up paying more, but at the end of May we bought a 2013 Kia Sorento.  It's now the nicest of our 3 autos.  Our children drive it.  How dumb are we?  

I took this prize winning shot when I pulled up to Coach 
on our way home from the dealership in May.

Meanwhile Coach and I tool around in a beat up looking red minivan, or the great white - a 12-seater, Chevy Express, former airport shuttle, whose paint job is chipping away rapidly, but I've never experienced a car with better AC. I know you're jealous.

On Wednesday August 12th, Doug, a brother at the dealership, responded that Ed could drive the red minivan into work the day after Michigan.  They would replace the brakes.  

Later the service manager called to say the front two tires were bald.  What is wrong with us?  Are we on a secret suicide mission driving with no brakes AND bald tires?  

Ed works over 40 minutes from home and how would we manage if we had a car in a local shop and still need to get him to work?  Two birds:  he could sit at work while the minivan was getting fixed.  Perfect.

Or, not.

At 4:00 on Wednesday he prepared to leave the dealership but was told they hadn't finished the car (in fact they failed to even start working on it) and could he get another ride home?  They said the car was in such bad shape they wouldn't allow him to drive it.  

Red minivan should've stayed
 in the garage in a timeout.

**Coach and I are awaiting our parents-of-the-year award for sending a kid on a 40 min drive with bald tires and no brakes**  

I was at Costco with Reggie getting his glasses adjusted when Ed called.  

** another reason I was in panic mode on that particular Costco trip**

Ed:  Can someone come get me?  The car isn't done?

Me:  SAY WHAT?  No, we have Reggie's confirmation in a bit and I'm at Costco. 

He hired an Uber for $40.  He's 19 and you have to be 25 to borrow a car.  Dang.

Delilah came by to cuddle a
baby and to see me,
who are we kidding -
she was 100% baby
 focused, and she snapped
this photo of me and the
 5 month old twin girls. 
This was NOT the day
 I was super tired.  I'm
sure you can tell - I look
 ready to conquer the world,
 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

The next day, Thursday, happened to be the third consecutive day of a lack of sleep for me after those maybe gluten-ed tacos, so I was strung out.  I was enjoying that over-tired feeling that makes my head buzz and makes me feel woozie.  It was my first day sitting for the baby twins, and when they got picked up I intended to nap.  That didn't happen because Reg was done caddying at the golf course.  On my bleary-eyed way home from getting Reg, Ed called.  The car was STILL not ready.  Could I come get him?

Tears.  I was like, TELL THEM WE CANNOT BE WITHOUT A CAR FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND.  Ed doesn't intern on Fridays, so if he came home with no car we would be up a creek for the weekend.

Sorry, but three cars for 6 drivers is a pain, 2 cars is not even a thing.  I was maybe going to have to ask Mary Ann to borrow her broomstick (couldn't resist). 

I told myself I could do it.  Go pick him up.  Then we would have to drive him back on Monday morning though.  It was too hard to process.  My phone rang again.

Ed:  Doug happened to overhear the issue and he gave special permission for me to take a loaner car even though I'm not old enough.

Tears, of joy this time.  

Temporary joy, because if things didn't seem a bit nutty already - a shit storm was right around the corner.

Any guesses on the next bump in the road?  You will not believe it.  

September 21, 2020

Since you asked: what we eat (links to recipes) , plus what we drink, & watch

I'm so ashamed. Look at this drawer.  It needs attention.  The front corner is my recipe box and all of the recipes I have used in the last year, maybe?

I need a better system.  Admitting it is the first step, right?  For those of you who think I am Ms. Organization, prepare to be shocked.  My recipes are stuffed in a drawer next to a recipe box that used to be orderly.  In order to find what I want to make, I have to shift through the stack of cards and papers.  Sometimes twice.  The horror.  
This is the box and pile of recipes begging for order to be restored.  

It started innocent enough.  Me in a hurry, not putting things back in their little filing system.  Well, hell.  Now it's just anarchy.  

These two recipes Chocolate Quinoa Snack Balls and sea salt dark chocolate energy balls I stumbled upon online two years ago in a desperate attempt to find something tasty, since cookies and sheet cake are no longer my friends.  These are my FAVORITE SNACKS.  

These are some well-loved, and now sticky recipes.

I nibble on the quinoa snack balls with my protein shake after my workout 

(*I keep them in the freezer in those little reusable 1/2 cup Glad lunch containers, I love the crunch, and lawdy rolling them into balls was almost the death of me*

and the other one serves as my dessert after dinner.

(*I cover my energy balls in more chocolate, and I also freeze them*)   

All the stuff for choc energy balls. 
 In these parts
we just call 'em chocolate
 balls because we
 enjoy a good chuckle,
plus taco fixings
on the other side of the island.
  Got it all going on.

Chocolate energy balls in
 my food processor. 
Kinda labor intensive.

I bake a TON, but I don't bother making my baked goods GF.  I don't think it tastes the same, plus I find it highly caloric.  I mean that stuff is highly caloric anyway - who needs to compound it?

This is a vegetable recipe I just discovered and I love it.  Many of you are probably 'real chefs' so you could make this in your sleep.  With Lad eating vegetarian, I made a recipe that I stumbled across on my favorite Chicago morning news show (I think it was called Mediterranean vegetables - not the news show, that's WGN), and we liked it. 

Confession time:  I didn't even really know how to prepare fresh vegetables.  Are you laughing at me?  I don't blame you.  I'm honestly embarrassed at how clueless I was.

I cling to the excuse of growing up in an Irish American household where vegetables came in a can.  Salad was a bit of ice-burg lettuce with a few pieces of tomato, occasionally a hard boiled egg, and a sprinkle of shredded cheese with French dressing.

As I approach my 50th birthday, I suppose I'm too old to keep recycling that tired 'my mom did it this way' excuse, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, the next time I made the vegetables, it wasn't great.  I googled and found the above recipe to replace it.  Delightful.  I made three trays of it and we ate it as a side all week.  That's how I cook:  wear myself out making a pile of food - then heat up as needed.  (insert Tank's eye-roll here.  Spoiled kid hates leftovers)

Hey, at least my kids have eaten fresh vegetables.  I have been rocking peppers, and onions with balsamic chicken over the last year - not even sure how that started, who am I?  I wonder if someone will show up one day and label me as 'no longer Irish' in a shameful, quick ceremony.  

Confession time:  I tried to whip Balsamic chicken up without consulting the recipe a few months ago.  I only used olive oil, skipping the balsamic vinegar completely.  I was like, Hmm, what's missing?  As I was driving home from Irish dancing (where else would I be?), it occurred to me.  I poured some balsamic in, stirred it up over heat, and saved the day.  Curly ate more after dancing and was relieved I hadn't lost my touch.  

How 'bout some meat?
I serve Sloppy Joe's a lot, and I think Beth requested the recipe for that crowd pleaser.  I am including a photo of my recipe card.  Note:  Instead of 3/4 ketchup I do 1/2 ketchup and 1/2 barbecue.  I'm  VERY generous on the chopped pepper and onion.  (my feed the masses version is on the back of my card).

A lot of this and a lot of that.

And vegetables?

I was about to end it here, but I realized I haven't touched on the drink and watching subjects.  I'll be brief:

Drinking:  One question:  


What on earth?  Whose idea was this?  It tastes like water, but gross.  I can't.  Am I alone on this?  I love Mike's Hard Lemonade.  Dark Cherry, or whatever is the red one.  A bottle of Riesling is still my BFF.  I can count on one hand how many drinks I've had over pandemic.  It's a slippery slope.  Life has been challenging (upcoming posts might reveal some of that - still on the fence), and I don't want to start a habit I can't break.   

Watching:  I like my aforementioned WGN morning news.  They're local, and funny.  Since Coach dropped direct TV, I can no longer rewind.  This is one of life's little adjustments which displeases me.  God help the child who speaks too loud and makes me miss a laugh on my morning show since I CANNOT REWIND to see what I have missed.  They've all been warned.  Hey, some people have coffee in the morning, not me.  We had to get an antenna just so I can watch this show.  Coach was all 'ridiculous' and I was like, 'hey I have a few things that I enjoy . . . my inflatable child's pool/raccoon spa and WGN, so back off.'

While in Michigan we watched 'Bird Box.'  People, have you seen this?  It is a reminder to all of us that our pandemic could be worse.  What if we could not go outside without being blindfolded?  It is like the seeing version of 'The Quiet Place.'

So, how do you organize your recipes?  What movie did you watch recently that you liked?  How do you feel about White Claws?

September 16, 2020

re-defining zoom bombs, and threatening the friendly version

After the first full day of e-learning (when Ed had not snuck off to college and left everyone wondering about his whereabouts), I told the three high school kids that I felt there should be a competition to, you know, keep things interesting during this dang e-learning time.  

Me:  Why not have a contest to see whose parents can come up with the funniest Zoom bomb during their kid's class?  

I even demonstrated me walking up behind a kid with a computer and hollering out to the teacher 'Oh, hey - just have to go downstairs to get something' - followed by the fake-descending-stair-mime thing with no actual stairs.

Various responses from my offspring who apparently don't love me anymore included:  You're dumb.  What?  Stop talking.  Did you mean to say that out-loud?  Why do you think you're funny?

Why are dad jokes funny, but moms have to shoulder the burden of sucking?  And, just so we're clear:  "Not sure what goes on over there, but my kids' friends think I'm hilarious" is not an acceptable comment.

Side note aka selfless plug so you know I do have a sense of humor that my children used to enjoy:  I once went outside a restaurant pretending I was just going to the ladies' room.  I left the four youngest sitting in a booth at the window having milkshakes after a particularly grueling Irish dancing class.  They were surprised when I appeared outside the window and then waved to them and proceeded to do the going downstairs mime.  They died laughing.  

Timeless?  Apparently not.  

A moment later, Ed mentioned that he saw Tank's 'thing' on Zoom.  "Classic.  That was so funny.  Well done."

Mimi:  (chuckling)  

Me:  (Glancing back and forth bewildered)  Wait, what did you do Tank?  Someone show me, or tell me.

They refused.  Awckk!  They were purposely leaving me out of the loop.  They swore up and down it was nothing bad, just funny.  

I do not have photos of my kids e learning, but this is typical Tank while we were in MI.  Ed is in the far left corner near our beach blankets.  Coach and 3 youngest playing Slammo in the background.  We did NOT pack an umbrella.  Some beach goer put this umbrella up and then maybe went for a swim.  Tank pulled one of our chairs under it and continued to alert us of how comfortable he was.  The real umbrella person NEVER returned, and I half wondered if the person couldn't find his/her umbrella because he/she was looking for one WITHOUT anyone sitting under it and Tank's presence was throwing him/her off. 

Anyway, Tank had a small group of his closest buddies come and hang out in the basement a bit after my zoom contest suggestion fail.  He rarely has friends over, claims there are too many people in the house.  Fears I might greet them, or God forbid engage them in conversation.  

He insists his friends think I'm weird, etc.  Moi?

His buddies were milling around on the driveway.  I could see them from the snack-bar/mini island in the kitchen where I was set up with my laptop.  Ed was still home, and he was like "Tank, why are your friends outside and you are just laying on the couch in the living room on your phone?"  Before Ed started scolding Tank, I was on my feet.  I threw open the garage door and invited them in.

His friend:  Oh, we texted him.  We were just waiting.

Me:  I know texting is the new doorbell, but you can just come in.  Tank is apparently laying around -too lazy to get up and open the door.

A few minutes later I got an email from the high school principal, Ms. Lypp.  This woman is the best principal.  She was alerting parents of an incident at the school.  An 8th grader from a feeder school Zoom bombed a class that day.  He shouted racial slurs and then mooned a Zoom class.  Police were involved and they were able to identify the kid (birthmark on his butt? I shouldn't joke because the verbal assault was horrible, but the butt part, couldn't resist).  His parents were contacted.  

Well, that was AWFUL.  I was glad to know that they nabbed the kid.

But I was taken aback - I wanted to make sure my kids knew I was NOT suggesting that parents ACTUALLY Zoom bomb classes.  It hadn't occurred to me that it could take the form of a frowned upon, delinquent kind of behavior. 

I thought I created it, for God's sake - well not really, because who hasn't seen the funny clips of people in serious Zoom meetings when a family member does something dorky in the background?  I didn't know kids were getting a code and then showing up on the internet in a Zoom class that they weren't supposed to be in.  I had only suggested that parents sneak up behind their student while wearing an Elmo mask or doing the stairs mime or demonstrate severe bed-head or something silly, not MEAN or HORRIBLE.

I tip-toed down into the basement with my laptop in hand.  Tank and his buddies were sprawled on the sectional, the beanbag chair, and the floor.  From my vantage point on the stairs, I could look down at all of them.

Tank:  (eye-rolling because I was in his friend zone.)

Me:  Tank, I just got an email from Ms. Lypp.  She wanted to let me know that there was an issue with Zoom bombing today.  Your name was mentioned.  (dramatic pause while Tank shot up from his reclined position and jerked his head in the direction of each friend).

Now who was bewildered?

Me:  So, do you have something to tell me?

Tank:  WHAT?  Are you being serious right now?  I didn't do anything bad!

Me:  (waited for him to look back at all of his friends again, and then I switched from my stern-mom-face to a huge smile that only his friends could see, followed by bicep flexing)

Tank's followers:  (rolling around on the floor laughing)

Tank:  Whatever.  Shut-up.  I knew I couldn't get in trouble for what I did.  Duh.  

This is the kid who refused to take improv classes last summer.  I believe he will be the next Chris Farley.  

They still haven't shown me video clips of Tank entertaining his classes, but this is NOT over.  I have other sources.  I will report back.  

September 14, 2020

eating out, transplanted taco inserts, and I scream for ice cream

I thought I'd share a few more nuggets about vacation, although my contact-lens-stealing, willingness-to-toilet-dive story cannot be beat.

Dinner out, take 1:  We ate dinner out twice.  The first night we walked into town.  I decided in advance I wouldn't make a big fuss if we didn't find something I could eat.  I would not punish everyone else for my celiac thing.  

Historically I have struggled to find a menu with enough GF options, and it has perhaps dampened the my mood.  Ahem, I'm looking at you Vancouver restaurant.  

The first place had Tacos.  I can usually eat tacos - minus the flour tortillas.  Coach insisted we check a few more places to be sure I had enough to choose from, as much as I was trying to be chill, he was trying to be accommodating.   We ended up back at the place we started.  Curly, a burger lover, was all set.

I asked if I could do tacos without the tortillas.  Um, no.  Their tacos and burritos had gluten in them - like in the meat or the sauce or something.  Sorry.  I panicked. Already ate a salad for my lunch.  

Coach later claimed that he did NOT start to grow impatient with me, but he DID bump the table hard and turn away in frustration.  I know this.  I think he caught himself and realized I was scrambling to choose under pressure.  Then he tried to act smooth, like he hadn't just behaved like a jerk his father.  I just wasn't feeling the burger with no bun.

I ordered chicken in a peanut sauce on a bed of noodles, hold the noodles.  Well, guess what's gross?  An abundance of Thai (was that even it, I don't remember) peanut sauce without pasta to soak it up or tone it the hell down.  I could barely eat it.  I picked the chicken out of it, and then offered it to family members who wanted to try it.

Ed was sort of giving me a look, like 'It looks and smells amazing, stop being difficult' then he sampled it.  His eyebrows shot up and he agreed, without the noodles it was all wrong, way too strong.  

Dinner out, take 2:  The last night we ate out again, technically it was our anniversary. Coach thought I was serious when I suggested we leave the kids at the house with a pizza while we went out.  I was like, NO.  Not doing that.  

A storm was coming.  Like a big 'un.  We found the place we had looked up.  They were no longer seating folks outside because it was about to get all 'Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore'

We decided to try a Mexican place in a strip mall.  Not the atmosphere I was hoping for.  I preferred a place near the water.  They told us it might be a 45 minute wait.  Nope.  

At last we went back downtown to a cute bar and grill.  The storm hit just as Coach parked across the street.  They could seat us, so I waved the gang inside.  The power went out right after we got to our table, but it came on a minute later.  We watched torrential downpours blow through the streets.

Coach ordered a pulled pork, nacho thing as an appetizer.  It was amazing and I had high hopes for dinner.  I asked for the tacos.  No tortilla.  On a bed of corn chips would be great.  The waitress acted like, YES.  NOT MY FIRST RODEO.

We waited forever for our food.  My tacos came out in flour tortillas.  She sent them back when I pointed out that I couldn't eat them.  Then they arrived at our table 1 minute later in a new basket.  Yep, we are classy people and eating food out of baskets on our 24th anniversary is acceptable.  

Me:  So, can you find out if this is the same taco dinner that you just brought me, because if the chicken was in the flour tortillas then I cannot eat it.  I'll get sick.

Waitress:  Let me check.  (a minute later)  Well, they aren't sure but they don't usually do that.  They usually start over, so let know if you want to re-order just in case.  

Me:  I'll just eat this.  (I didn't want to sit there and wait all over again, and I hate to make a fuss)

Um, the chicken was cold.  Was it the same taco inserts just dumped on chips?  There was hardly any food, mostly chips.  Coach was annoyed.  It couldn't really be classified as an entree.  

Meanwhile:  Reg, Mini, and Curly all ordered a southwest chicken wrap.  The girls wanted plain mayo instead of the spicy kind.  One of them ordered crispy chicken, the other two grilled.  Their dinners were all-kinds of messed up.  They just ate what they were handed with an obligatory eye-roll.  

I contemplated ordering another round of the appetizer since my meal sucked.  Ed admitted that his dinner was not really filling, but he wasn't interested in more appetizer.  Mini later told me that she wanted to strangle him for not agreeing to order it with me.  It was our last night at the house and I was out of other GF options in the fridge.

When we were packing for MI, and by 'we' I mean 'me', I started calling out things for people to grab.  I had a list of my GF food.  Curly grabbed the list  and packed my food.  She forgot to pack these.  It's my favorite food item.  Protein/granola thing with toasted quinoa and GF oatmeal and dark chocolate chips.  It was rough to get through the whole trip without these little yummy treats.  I keep them in the freezer.  Love the crunch.  

We drove downtown after dinner, and Coach asked if I wanted him to stop and get me ice cream.  We had taken the kids out for ice cream the night before.  I hesitated.  Then I said, HEY, YEAH.  I WOULD LIKE SOME ICE CREAM. (damn it - implied).

I got a smaller size than the night before.  None of the kids complained that Coach wasn't buying everyone an ice cream treat.  He reminded them that he had hidden bakery cookies back at the house.  We crossed our fingers that Tank hadn't found them.

I'm not sure if it is a coincidence or not, but after that taco 'meal' I did not sleep great for 3 nights.  That is sometimes how I react to trace amounts of gluten.  Fuzzy head, unable to sleep.  

I used to be big on packing food to save a buck when we traveled.  Then my motivations shifted - I bring food to avoid eating out and getting gluten by mistake.  I do better eating out near home, because I have a few go-to menus that I trust.  

This is just a portion of what we packed.  Some of this is food.  
The cold food was in a huge cooler.  It is a darn chore
 to pack food, but it makes so much sense.

Can I get an amen to the universal mindset:  Hooray for ice-cream?!

Well, I was going to share movies that we watched on vacay, but I gabbed too much about our eating out experiences.  More on movies later.  Oh, and the unexpected visitor on the beach.  Get excited.

I want to find a recipe for this pulled pork nacho appetizer, so if you make something like this please share.