November 30, 2020

the tanned raccoon look, a voice-over, and other updates

I'm late to post today. I've several timeless posts I could've plugged in here, but I wanted to share highlights of our busy weekend. So much has happened in the last week or two (in that time I posted pre-written, purely delightful content here, of course. Everyone nodding in agreement in my generous imagination) that I am a bit overwhelmed as I attempt to update you all, my blog friends. Gotta start somewhere. Writing this as baby twins are napping. Here goes:

Last night I stayed up way too late working on a WRITING FOR PUBLICATION class assignment that I wanted to complete. For a few hours I was so disillusioned that I thought I'd get a weekend recap post done. Silly me.

My hour plus long nap at 4:15 in the afternoon did not move me closer to my "and then I'll write a post" goal. I woke up dazed and confused at 5:30 pm having dreamt that we had a sun porch with a pool where a real live lion hung out on the regular. This epic nap perpetuated my jet-lag feeling despite not having flown to Ireland, or anywhere. Today I am going to require another nap, so hoping to reestablish normal sleep might be too lofty. 

Irish dancing competitions wreak havoc on sleep (not to mention bank accounts, holiday weekends,  nervous systems, etc.) - I know this because historically for the past 10 years I've spent the weekend after Thanksgiving at Midwest Irish Dancing Championships.

I usually avoid cooking for Thanksgiving because of the impending championships. This year, not so lucky. I went overboard with the cooking, which was dumb but I'm embracing the freedom from cooking dinner this week. Thank you piles of leftovers. More on our Thanksgiving later.

Kitchen: trashed. Hey, at least we have a hood. See my laptop at the bottom of the pic? Curly and Mini were glued to it all day. Watching the live-streamed competitions that happened on Thanksgiving. Curly's dancing bestie competed.

Coach kept saying he was sure the competition would be cancelled due to the pandemic. Part of me agreed, but as the days passed I thought 'SHEESH, THEY'RE GOING TO HOST THIS THING.' Curly hasn't competed at a big event since this time last year as Worlds (April) and Nationals (July) were both cancelled. I hoped that we'd stay healthy so that she could attend. My dancer works HARD and I wanted her to be able to participate.

Still, I was grumpy. This year it was scheduled to be in Chicago - like 35 minutes from home. Translation:  sleep in my own bed. No traveling. Then a few months ago, they announced that they were moving it to Indianapolis because the restrictions in Chicago were too, well, restrictive. Damn. 

Each dancer could bring one adult. Coach and I:  divide and conquer types so not an issue. Once basketball season was put on hold for Mini I was wishing Mini could come. Since she retired from dance, she has always joined us as Curly's biggest fan. Mini's a hoot. She keep things light. 

Not being tuned into the dancing school's FB page as my life gets a tad busy at times, I missed the volunteer signup. I could've signed up Mini. I reached out to Curly's dance teacher, Mary, and told her to let us know if she heard of any volunteer openings. Days later she texted - Mini was needed. Things were looking up. 

Tuesday night I started my food prep. The woman I had hired to do Curly's wig and makeup texted me to say she was no longer planning to be in Indianapolis. "Sorry." Holy crap. I can put on Curly's wig but for a big competitions I prefer someone else take on that role. Um, Curly's preference too. Big time. 

Makeup? No. I can't. Mini and I are helpless. I can barely work mascara on myself and I get all queasy getting that close to someone else's eyes. Nevermind the eyeliner and fake eyelashes. No one would willingly hand me a bottle of glue and instruct me to get close to my kid's eye with a thin wispy fake eyelash. This was going to be ugly. Quite literally. Years ago I bought makeup for dancing competitions. We only use it for the local, small competitions. I hire out for the big events, so our selection was weak at best. 

Mini insisted that she'd pull this off. She'd watch YouTube videos and do a practice run. Well, Tuesday night I tried to work on my annual Christmas poem late at night because I was not sleepy. The girls were in a giddy mood and they sashayed into the kitchen and attempted a synchronized dance routine to whatever folksy music Alexa was playing. I ignored them, but they were distracting me and getting on my last nerve. I finally told them to get to bed.  

Over an hour later I went to bed (kicking myself for staying up so late). I was switching a load of laundry and I heard something in the girls' room. I walked in, they turned off the light. Our bag of dancing makeup was spread all over the floor. Curly kept her back towards me. 

"Sorry, Mommy. We're going to bed now. Good-night."


Dear God. Mini had TRIED with our makeup. Curly looked like a tanned raccoon. We were doomed. I scolded the girls. Hello, we have to be up early in the morning in a few days and Indianapolis is a different time zone so it'll feel crazy early. No sleeping till 10 am or later. What were they thinking? I mean, I couldn't really get angry because they're hilarious. Curly's face was MAKING ME DOUBLE OVER. But still.

My equally clueless daughters and I went inside Walgreens on Wednesday evening and bought what we THOUGHT we needed in colors that we HOPED would work to the tune of $80.  

Curly's competition was Saturday, 8:30 am. We left Friday late morning. Freakishly I slept 9 hours Thursday night (overdoing Thanksgiving cooking will do that) and was ready to do this thing

After checking into our hotel, we walked to the venue and met Mary. I cannot tell you how incredibly blessed we are to have Mary as Curly's teacher. She's crazy about my kid. No pretenses, no worries, no wonder-what-she-meant-by-that vibe. She always wants what's best for Curly. Aside from Curly's dancing abilities she LOVES my kid. Curly is mature, respectful, and kind. All heart. Not all 12 yr old girls have it going on. Plus, it doesn't hurt that she can dance. 

I shared with Mary how we were stressed about the makeup. Another dance friend, whose kid danced on Thanksgiving day, sent me a link to a place that was doing wig appointments. I was thrilled. My turkeys (yes, two) were in the oven and Curly was scheduled to have her wig done by a professional. I asked Mary if she thought the wig people might plop those false eyelashes on Curly while doing the wig.

Mary:  Let's ask.

She walked us to the vendor area where the wig people were set up. The man and woman (Sean and Geri) running the booth were from Ireland. They knew Mary. She's helping run the event. They weren't supposed to do makeup because of covid, but Mary asked about eyelashes as a favor. Sean said sure they'd help. He asked us a bit about Curly's makeup and I explained:  clueless.

I was standing there in workout clothes after having driven 3 hours. No makeup. Rocking stringy, mangy hair. Homemade mask. I'm sure it came as a total shock to him that I claimed to be clueless about makeup. I took out my phone and showed him the dry-run that Mini had done the day before (Thanksgiving) with our newly purchased stuff.

People. I'm going to try to do my imitation of what he said in his Irish accent and then upload it here, because it was just too funny. Essentially he stopped in his tracks and insisted that we were not to put anything on her face. He whipped around and showed Geri the photo. She more than winced. As if we were physically hurting her. 

Thanksgiving dry run.

Photo of Curly and my imitation of this guy Sean talking to his partner Geri. (not sure why it says age restriction - if you click on it, it will work I think. Not actually restricted by age)

We were instructed to show up for the wig session ready and willing for them to do her makeup too. If not for covid, I might have kissed him. 

Sean: Bring what makeup you have. 

I told them that we were a little worried that the foundation was too dark (these girls tan their legs, so the faces often are made to look quite dark). "Not to worry. Just bring it. Don't touch her face." Geri apologized to Mini after she learned that it was her handiwork that they were shredding. 


We high-fived and celebrated and giggled all the way back to the hotel. "Did you see their faces when they saw the dry-run?" 

November 27, 2020

ALERT short post: random photos, a flashback, & garlic anyone?

Never been more random, but as I look through my google -photos I come across stuff I meant to write about and never did . . . so here's a treat.

I know the election has passed and I'm just going to say without trying to start a political discussion because that is just not my style,  . . .  this bumper sticker that is proudly displayed on all of our cars still holds up four years later, if you ask me: 

Someone needs a car wash, but once the gas cap stops closing on its own - who's really going to bother with car upkeep? I love this bumper sticker. No, I don't want to talk about it.

Below is a photo I made Mini pose for back when each kid needed to whip up his/her own meal . . . this was Mini's idea of chopping garlic. I wonder which family member she wanted to choke. Or perhaps she just wanted to keep vampires away.

"Why do the Shenanigans have SUCH horrid garlic breath," said almost everyone within a 5 mile radius of our house. Although I guess since it was lock-down, no one really would have been impacted much. Then again, those are some sizeable chunks so you never know.

Here is a photo that I obsessed over during lockdown. I don't remember why I felt so compelled to locate it, but I did. It actually didn't take me all that long to find it in the bottom of a bin. Proof of my style:  organized chaos.

It makes my heart so happy and wistful when I look at it. This, in case you couldn't guess is MY kindergarten photo from Davenport, Iowa. It may have taken me extra long to learn my right from my left or how to tell time, but my memory is as sharp as a tack. I remember so much about kindergarten. 

For instance, this boy in the front row was TROUBLE - note he is wearing a Farah Faucet t-shirt to our picture day. One of the other girls in the class warned me about him - like he had much older brothers, maybe one had been in jail. It makes me wonder what the real story was and where he is now.

Me: top far left on the end, long hair, gingham dress
3rd girl from top left with glasses, Theresa aka'square-head'
Front row, looks ticked, far right - Amy Hollinger, real name.
Farah wearing guy - bottom row, far left
My next door neighbor: John Barker - striped turtle neck, middle row, middle kid
Red head Sarah (I think, real name) - middle row 3rd from left
Blond who looked like Cindy Brady, but cuter - middle row, 2nd from right, Theresa followed her around like a puppy, Theresa was her henchman. NO one would mess with blondie. Maybe Blondie's name was Beth?

I always thought Theresa had a square head (she's wearing glasses). She was the blond girl's sidekick, only because I was in kindergarten and I was still young, but my adult self would march up to her if she pissed me off on the playground: "Theresa over there is your bitch."  Well as an adult I wouldn't say that to children - but if I knew that lingo back in the day . . . I remember they teamed up on me occasionally.

The girl with the red hair, Sarah, was one of my besties. I once attended a sleepover at her house and never slept. Mom wasn't overly impressed with that accomplishment.

Amy Hollinger lived in my neighborhood. I remember playing at her house. She had cool games like Mouse Trap and Operation, which we NEVER owned. A form of child abuse, perhaps. 

The bus stop was at Amy's house at the top of the hill. My next door neighbor, John Barker, and I used to walk to the bus stop ALONE - there were no sidewalks. Every day, as soon as we reached the base of the hill and began our assent (like the bus stop was probably 10 or 12 houses away from where we lived and no parents walked with us, red flags anyone?) John would ask me the same question:           


Not to worry, I delivered the brush off like an old pro. "John, let's not talk about it today." He was a persistent one. I imagine his adult self being  VERY similar to the character Dwight on The Office. 

I loved my teacher, Mrs. Haring. The first time I met her, she pointed to her bouffant hair and then her ring in order to teach me her name:  Mrs. HAIR - RING. She was the best. She loved the color yellow and embraced polyester pantsuits. Who didn't? It was the 70s.

Did you struggle in the kitchen as a teen? Eventually find your way? I'm looking for a glimmer of hope here for Mini. Memories that stretch back to kindergarten? I remember being so quiet in 1st grade that when I dropped my pencil while at the round reading table, I neglected to get up and find it. Well, that ended badly. I got scolded by the teacher for not doing  my work. But I'll stop there or this won't be a 'short post.'

November 25, 2020

Mini and I in a truth telling drive

Mini decided to hop in the car and drive with me the hour and a half round trip to drop off the dreamy loaner car (that I will miss dearly) and pick up our car that I wasn't sure I would recognize since they had it for 2 entire months.

Mini swore she had a ton of reading to do for school. She'd read while I drove. Um, we talked most of the time. It was DE-light-FUL. Not gonna lie.

The car place had called the day before to say:  "I think we have your Kia." When I said, "Oh, do you? I was starting to wonder." The guy told my wiseass-self that if I decided to come late, the sales team would get me the car vs the service guys. He said the sales team was there till 8. 

The sales team acted as if I was asking to pick up my space ship. They were all: "Huh? Hey Mindy, where's Mork?" 

This was a nice car. It had some get-up-and-go. It also had satellite radio that was educating me, as in "Oh, that song was from the 70s" - while listening to the 70s station. Curly thought after all this time we should just keep this car.

Mini whispered something to me about how this was looking grim. I assured her I was armed with all of the car dealership brothers' cell numbers (I potty trained most of these brothers in my teenage babysitting years, so you can say I have an in) and these dudes were gonna hand over my car in a hurry or it was gonna get ugly. 

I spelled it out to those-who-never-saw-the-memo about customers coming late to pick up fixed cars:  "Last name Shenanigan. Kia Sorrento. 2012. You've had the car for 2 months. YES, I did receive a call that the car was done." SIGH.

They found our car, complete with the Costco cases of water and napkins I bought for the Aug. grad party - the things that no one ever unloaded. Plus half of Lad's wardrobe in the backseat and at least 3 of his chargers, or 3 of his family member's chargers seeing as he had sticky fingers when it came to chargers.

Somehow on our drive, Mini and I reviewed some of my not-so-finer moments that sort of makes my intelligence seem questionable. This probably started with me saying, don't you have to get your homework done (while mopping my sweaty brow thinking I had contributed to her academic delinquency by dragging her in the car)? 

Mini: OH, I GOT THIS (waves hand at the book/notes she brought but was now ignoring). WHAT KIND OF STUDENT WERE YOU?

Me: Um, early on I had a few academic hiccups. 

She wanted details. Mini is very bright and I only felt slightly dopey for admitting my shortcomings.

1.  It took me years to learn to tell time. I don't think my folks ever checked that I caught on to the concept in 2nd grade. They were probably busy praising the shit out of my brilliant siblings (brain-iacs Marie and Pat, the other two were more like me - smart, but regular smart. I was sandwiched between the two kids who might cry at dinner if they only got a 97% on their honors physics test. Please). Mini was like, HUH? Realizing I missed some major concept, I was super grateful for digital clocks.

I once got called on to tell the 2nd grade teacher the time from my 'I can see the clock, but she couldn't' vantage point. The whole class was gathered at her feet as she read us a story and I was sitting farthest back in the circle. It was the end of the day and she wondered if it was time to get our coats, etc. I told her something ridiculous like 6:25 instead of 2:55 - in front of the entire class. So, that wasn't embarrassing.

2. In third grade I still couldn't tell my right from my left. A girl named Monica tried to teach me one day. She showed me how to make an 'L' with my thumb and forefinger. I told Mini that even this hint still didn't always help me because I thought they both LOOKED like an 'L'. 

Mini convulsed here, slapping the dashboard gasping for air:  WAIT, SO YOU WERE DISLEXIC?

Me:  No, I wasn't. But I struggled.

3.  I was such a slow reader that the teachers were dumbfounded. The 6th grade teacher told my folks at conferences that she noticed that I moved my mouth during silent reading time. They asked me to stop doing that. Well, that was hard. Still slow at reading to this day. 

I was in the Great Books program. Anyone else do that at your school? It was enrichment reading, or gifted, etc. I couldn't have been included in it if I was illiterate, so that's a relief because I think it offers some context to my reading issues. Certainly not extreme.

Ali at Bibliomama DID recently point out that I used debauchery in place of debacle  though. Proving, always room for improvement.

My good friend, Chris's mom was the Great Books leader in like 7th and maybe even 8th grade. There were about 10 of us who left regular reading to meet Chris's mom in the Annex. Chris always scurried ahead so she could get the seat next to her mom in our little circle, as if anyone else was dying to sit next to her mom. Chris was all ass-kissy and goodie-two-shoes-ish about having her mom there. 

She was my friend, but at this point in junior high it was uncool to be excited when your mom volunteered at school. I know this, my mom was a substitute teacher. I opted to keep my enthusiasm in check. I mean we WERE the goodie-goodie girls and all, but let's not live up to our title or anything. 

4. Even now:  I am going to confess right here that my adult self CANNOT spell the word 'exercise'. I just can't. Thank you spell check.

I dreaded having to drive to the middle of nowhere to get that dang Kia with it's new engine but weak-ass breaks. Having Mini there to laugh her ass off at my ineptness was seriously pure joy. Now that you get our frame of mind, you might grasp the post from the other day a bit better. We could NOT stop laughing at poor Coach. 

What academic concepts did you struggle with? Don't leave me hanging out here feeling like the only dummy. 

November 23, 2020

Technologically impaired, not me this time

Coach was teaching a virtual class recently from our house. He told me in advance, but it didn't really register. It sounded like "yadda yadda class yadda." 

The only PT related words I understand apparently are those that might benefit me, like massage. I guess that's it, just the one word.

He showed up at home knowing that he couldn't use our bedroom:  napping twins. During the day we are almost at a 'no-room-in-the-inn' situation with e-learners and babies. We selected the study for him. He put on a tie. Paced. Arranged his notes. Shooed me out of the room. He had done a dry run practice the day before.

The scene of the class. The abandoned tie looks so sad. E-learning stuff is everywhere, thus the algebra book on the floor. He used the white box of clothes that Lad had delivered to the house to prop up his computer. Must be nice to go on shopping sprees when you are basically broke.

It was an hour long class that the PT company he works for asked him to teach. He does occasionally teach for other groups, but this was through 'corporate.' 

When the class was over, he exited the study and suddenly bent at the waist. Loud moaning, followed by many, MANY "Oh, no! No, no, NO! 's - as in this string of the word 'no' was repeated multiple times. I'm more of an 'Ef'-word string-together type myself, but I think we've established that. To each his own.

I looked at Mini and I grimaced. WHAT? - we both asked him, although I was afraid of the answer.

"I never shared my screen. They couldn't see my presentation. At all. Holy shit. They were texting me the entire time, but I was not gonna be one of those easily distracted people, didn't even look at my phone . . . Oh, my computer volume was apparently NOT up, so I couldn't hear them asking questions . . . I just kept talking. WHAT THE HELL DID I DO?!"

Mini and I shared a look. We said small, insignificant things like 'sorry'. 

He had to go back to work, so Mini drove him because later that night I planned to pick the car up from the shop . . . it only took TWO whole MONTHS to replace the engine in the KIA. This way Mini and Tank had cars to go to tennis and whatever the hell Tank does.  *I wrote this over a month ago, but it still holds up because I kid you not - in 2020 we seem to be professionals a-car-in-the-shop people.*

Mini (who was STILL wearing her PJs and it was now 3:00) got back home after dropping him off (it's only 7 minutes away) and shook her head.

Mini: I feel SO bad for him, but how do you not share your screen? He did say that he sent people the slides in advance SO if they wanted maybe they could've been following along. Doubt it though. He's a mess. 

I texted him a few hours later to say that I hoped he would SOMEDAY look back on this day and laugh. 

**Of course I hoped this LAUGH OUR ASS OFF AT YOUR DUMB-ASS-NESS would arrive sooner as opposed to later, but one can never tell. BTW we're all still laughing AT HIM for the car parking incident in my last post.**

Mini came with me to pick up the Kia (our drive is a whole other post and will explain our giggly dispositions when we picked up Coach as we neared home). He was in the backseat. I asked him if he was feeling any better, while secretly squeezing Mini's elbow. We were both wondering, "Too soon to laugh?"

He said he still hadn't heard from the woman from corporate who orchestrated the class. He read us the 6 texts she sent during the class, groaning between each text. (To be clear, in case anyone else is as technologically clueless as me - the people could see him, just not his SCREEN aka slide presentation).

He said he had texted her afterwards apologizing and explaining how he was just SO focused/not looking at his phone, etc. Um, she never responded, 6 hours later.

Mini:  Maybe she's drafting the paperwork to terminate you. (We laughed our butts off here, because that place would fall apart without Mr. I-make-everyone-better-and-people-come-from-miles-away-to-see-me, how's that for job security?)

I stopped at a light:  "I do not like the brakes in the Kia. Like do they need to be replaced? Because they could've done that in the 2 months while they had it." (I hadn't driven the Kia much before it went into the shop, aka kids' car).

ANOTHER groan from the backseat . . .

Coach: Swell, after I read those texts to you guys, I was putting my phone away and then Mommy did her jamming on the breaks thing and I just pocket dialed the woman from corporate (at 8:45 pm).

Whether it was appropriate or not, Mini and I doubled over laughing the rest of the way home. I laugh whispered to Mini that it was as if Daddy had morphed into my elderly parents overnight. 

When I told Mini the subject of this post, she just shook her head."I mean he told me he practiced SO much, but you don't need to practice sharing your screen. It's just a button. How does someone even do that?" 

** Coach just got home (the day after the 'incident') The corporate woman never reached out aside from one message that sort of recapped the disaster of the presentation. He's ticked because she never said THANKS FOR PUTTING THAT TOGETHER FOR ME, etc. I was like, Huh -this was a favor? They weren't paying him extra. I didn't know this. 

Gathering info, practicing on the weekends during time off and no payment? Guess who is now GLAD the ef-ing thing was a debacle. Like I said I'm more of an 'Ef' this type vs the 'Oh no' type. Shock that my business career never took off.

Zoom issues? Technology issues? Like my mom who got a cordless landline in the 90s and thought she could bring it to her school where she taught in case Dad wanted to call her during the day.

November 20, 2020

Coach's epic fails for the family laugh

A while back - the very next weekend after we visited Creighton, we took the four youngest kids to see Ed. He goes to school in Indiana. Just before we left, the powers that be announced Indiana as a do-not-visit state. DAMN.

We went anyway, but instead of eating out, I made chili and we ate in the hotel room. The next day, we walked across the enormous campus wearing masks and ordered lunch and ate outside. That was over a month ago and we all remained healthy. It was a quick visit, but not without entertainment, thanks to Coach.

Before we left, I made 60 cookies and 3 loaves of pumpkin bread for Ed. Mini wrapped the cookies in a box and wrote on the box that it was Ed's birthday so that Ed could walk around his fraternity and pass out his birthday treat - I know, no longer a 1st grader but still! (every kid in fraternity has had covid now, so walking around sharing cookies is OK). 

Mini decorating box 'o cookies with b-day wrap.

I dashed upstairs to finish packing while Mini worked on the cookie box, and Coach asked me if I knew what time we'd leave the next day to come home.

Me:  Um, for what? Church? We can always go on Sunday.

Coach:  No, like what time do we need to arrive at Xavier. 

Me:  Huh?  Xavier is the next weekend. 

We initially were going to see Ed, then drive to Cincinnati to see Xavier and then come home but Xavier didn't offer tours that weekend so we split the weekends up. Coach KNEW this. At one point. 

The day we walked around Ed's campus, Ed insisted on dropping the minivan off in the town. He didn't want us to have to walk 30 minutes back to the fraternity house after lunch. I was FINE with the walk - the weather was brisk but nice, but whatever. 

Campus was fairly empty and this could count as a college visit. Mini might go to school here if she wants to do business. It's really big though. Ed has already decided what sororities he would allow her to enter or forbid her to join based on the fact that some of sorority members rarely eat or they all look and act the same, etc. Nothing like having a big brother to look out for you. For the record, Mini is skittish when it comes to being ranked based on beauty and body type, etc. so she is grateful to have Ed tell her what's what, if it comes to that. 

Ed followed Coach to the town in his roommate's car. Coach parked and I guess Ed picked him up on a different street, then they showed up at the frat house and off we went on our walk. After lunch, we walked towards the car so we could hop in and drive back to the fraternity house. We walked all. over. the. place. 


Mini and Tank (Tank usually prefers to poke fun at me to see if he can get me riled up, he's successful about 50% of the time) both threw their hands up and proclaimed a truth that I now know is understood but not stated OFTEN ENOUGH:


I tried not to enjoy the moment TOO much. I bit my lip to stop smiling excessively and resisted the urge to bow..

Two carloads of Ed's friends parked near where we were standing at 15 minute intervals, well we were circling the area so our standing places moved around. Each time they were like ED, HOW'S IT GOING?

Ed:  Been better. Can't find the car. (lots of chuckling)

Car was found and we listened to Coach explain his theory to Ed about why he thought he was on that 'other' street. 

I could do a whole post on what Reg does to his shoes. Suffice it to say I feel like all I do is buy this kid shoes and yet every time I turn around his shoes look like this. I threatened to leave him in the car for wearing these shoes on our visit to Ed. What on earth? I have since cleared the mudroom and tossed out any shoes that were this crappy.

Last stop was the bookstore. While I got a birthday card for Delilah the day before, I failed to buy one for Ed, so Coach went to get Ed a card and I hit the clearance area on the 2nd floor with our offspring. We Shenanigans are clearance-rack types. 

Tank grabbed a shirt right away and I told him to go downstairs and get in line with Daddy. The rest of us were walking downstairs a few minutes later, and Tank texted me one of my FAVORITE all time text messages.

Tank:  Daddy just asked me how old Ed is. Um, he also forgot where he parked the car. I think we need to stop at an urgent care on the way home and have him assessed.

I died laughing. 

The following weekend was Ohio. Loved the campuses of Xavier and Dayton. Xavier has something called a 'super fan' - like a club of kids who run the spirit section at basketball games. I almost put down a deposit for Tank on the spot.

Taking a tour at Dayton.

For these trips we ate most of our meals in our car - food I brought, all hail the budget. We only bought gas in Ohio. That college tuition is going to hit hard . . . in 2 years we will have 3 in college.

Nothing beats leftovers. I can eat them in a car.
I can eat them when we go far. I'll stop there.

I informed Mini and Tank that they need to agree to go to the same school to make our driving easier. I was NOT serious, but this prompted Tank to turn to Mini and say in his super-cheesy voice:  HEY WANNA ROOM TOGETHER?

What'll we do without his nonsense next year?

Anyone ever forget where you parked, like for a LONG ASS TIME?

November 18, 2020

reinstating Netflix, dripping, and projects

Those of you worried that I wouldn't manage quarantining without Netflix . . .  I reinstated it. Opting not to be deprived while stuck at home. 

I  explained to Coach, who decided after our 30 day free trial that he wasn't going to pay for it, that my vote counts. I make money (well, not for the next few weeks thanks Tank for the positive covid test, not bitter though) and this isn't 1954 and I don't wear pearls to dinner and tuck a cloth napkin under his chin before I feed him a casserole I just whipped up, SO NETFLIX IT IS, DAMN IT

Mini later told that my Netflix address to Daddy was "boss". 

Which reminds me, she recently told me when we were at church that I was dripping. I thought at first that I just couldn't understand her through her mask. I leaned in closer, "Huh?" I was 'dripping' because she liked my outfit. I was hip. Cool. Being a fashionista. 

This is my 'dripping' outfit according to Mini. Who knew? These are my favorite pants that I stalked at the mall in order to get them on sale when Mini behaved like an animatronic creature behind some racks. 
That's when I told her that my grandma and my great aunt used to point out people who were dressed frumpy or who had zero personality as 'drips.' Thankfully, that's not what she meant. A 'drip' and being 'drippy' - different. I'm realizing that she gets a burst of happiness using lingo to make me feel clueless, and I'm OK with it.

I do have several projects to work on during this, our 14 days of hell togetherness. 

1.  I have a dress (think comfy, wear-with-leggings kinda dress, I will post pictures) that I'm going to sew arms on. It has arms, but untimely and unsightly holes popped up in the arm pits. Odd because I didn't wear it all that often and the body of the dress is the SAME fabric, yet not holy - you know what I mean. I swear I wasn't wearing kryptonite for deodorant or anything. Weird as shit, but I loved that dress, think housedress minus the polyester floral print. I assure you, I didn't wear it enough to warrant holes in pits. I bought fabric and everything. Updates as progress warrants, fingers crossed. 

Cute, right? Plus, I love pockets. Add brown
 leggings and boots and it is a cozy winter ensemble.
It's blurry, but you get the idea here. What the hell?

2. My closet. I started cleaning it out during early-on lockdown, but Mini was in a mood and I prefer to utilize the daughters' suggestions so I skipped the thorough overhaul. Working to keep her in a better mood, so I can get her opinion without crossed arms and teenage angst. It's all about timing.

3. Writing:  I vow to get some more writing done. I went back to the Irish dancing book and I found that it was actually fun to edit or write or compile two projects at once. I never thought that would be the case, but it gives my brain a rest from the memoir book and vice versa. Changing it up is awesome as it turns out. 

4. I will have to reschedule Coach's birthday dinner that was planned for Saturday (Nov. 14th) with his brother and sister and their families. My sister-in-law asked me when I initially invited them if I would be inviting his parents. Silly her. The plan was to have FUN, so that'd be a hard NO. 

5. Working out. This'll be so hard for me. I hate missing my classes. It was one thing when NO ONE could go to the health club but NOW - I'm missing out on all the work-till-you-wanna-cry fun five days a week. I hope I'll remember some of the exercises so I can recreate here at home. Nothing like giving my e-learners something to poke fun of me for. My pandemic workouts remind me of the beginning of Bridesmaids when the women are outside working out and trying to 'steal' the moves from the nearby outdoor class. That's me in my family room:  trying to recall the good moves and replicate them.  

6. Ed's brining a friend, Al, home from college for the first few days of Thanksgiving break. Al, who's from California, was supposed to room with Ryland. He'll stay a few days in ED & LAD'S MESSIEST ROOM EVER in order to visit with Ry. before flying to California. Hard to classify it as a 'room' in its current state. Mostly stuff Lad left. He still had bins FILLED with dirty laundry that he never dealt with when he moved home from college in March. I vow not to share anymore, but trust me it's a horrible job. Coach and I spent a few hours in there a few weeks ago. Not gonna lie, it hurt our hearts. I wept a little. It has been hard to carve out time in there. Reg e-learns at the desk and has been sleeping there since Tank tested positive. I'm going back in there TODAY. Wish me luck.

7. The Christmas poem. It's long and goofy and I've decided to try to get a jump start. Needing to rhyme things like:  raccoons in blow up pools, Reg's recent GIANT MESS, the godsend of a ping pong table from Santa, Zoom mishaps (upcoming Coach post), babysitting laughs, misplaced tampons (kidding, but still a fav moment of this year), surviving as a shoemaker's child, lost cars (upcoming post), Mini's twisty turban driving, car juggling, and cancelled trips for dancing to Dublin and Nashville plus ANOTHER rescheduling of Yellowstone

1.  Let me know if I am missing one of your favorite Shenanigan memories from 2020 and I'll add it to my growing list. 

2. Embracing quarantine -if I don't get all this stuff on my list done, I might have to fake a positive to stay holed up at home without babysitting until I clear my list of this shit. (NOT REALLY, BUT TEMPTING) Do you have a favorite accomplishment during lockdown/quarantine?

November 16, 2020

proof that only angels wear halos, no use crying over spilled . . .

Another of our offspring chose to test us while quarantining. As I said earlier, I wasn't sure if we would all come out of this two week stretch unscathed. 

Exhibit A:  

Reg finished the last of a gallon of milk just as I was putting dinner on plates. Mini reminded him that whoever finishes the milk is expected to race down in the basement and retrieve the next gallon from the fridge down there.

Off Reg went.

Curly was on her stage in the basement warming up for a Zoom dancing class. This was one of those nights when I didn't start dinner early enough to accommodate a 6:00 dancing lesson, so Curly ate leftovers beforehand.

I heard Reg on the stairs as he was heading back up. 

I heard Curly gasp and call out:     REG!

I heard liquid. Lots of it. I heard some babbling dialogue. 

Reg:  OH . . NO! HELP. . . I CAN'T. WAIT . . . GOSHHHHH!

Curly: Reg MOVE! GOOOO!

Note the crack BELOW THE HANDLE.

Reg popped up from the stairwell with a broken gallon of milk. To the naked eye, he appeared to be holding a fountain OF MILK

It was still gushing EVERYWHERE.

Coach moments after we started the de-milking process.

It reminded me of when I used to work at Burger King in high school and I was an 'opener.' I had to get there early and set everything up alongside my boss. One morning I was trying to fill the shake machine. The shake mix was in a bag, whose idea was that? I was supposed to hold the bag, remove the screw on lid, and dump the liquid into the machine. I failed to grasp the bag of mixture under the neck of the opening when I removed the lid. I stood there juggling a bag of shake mix and in no time flat I was WEARING said shake mix and wondering how this situation had unraveled so damn quickly. I had to go home and change my clothes before returning to work. Massively embarrassing. 

Back to Reg and the mess that had me momentarily contemplating moving to a different house . . . 

He tried to say he was 'just carrying it up the stairs.' When you have a bunch of siblings, it's hard to get away with that kind of shit. 

Curly corrected him right off the bat: Reg, you were spinning it around your head and when you turned to go up the stairs you bumped it on the low part of the ceiling.

Defense rests, your witness.

I sometimes do a move in my workout classes that is called a HALO. It sounds to me like my 14-year-old son (who is NOT an angel) was performing a halo with a gallon of milk. Lugging it around his head in a tight circle. Focusing on building up his triceps and biceps and not bad for core strength either. I discourage anyone from doing this at home . . .  with a  gallon of 2%.

This is one of those times when I am grateful for the 35 white crappy towels that gradually littered our home during Lad's four high school swim and four high school water polo seasons. Those towels soaked up the milk. 

Coach as he stomped on the white towels on the stairs: IT'S EVERYWHERE. ON ALL THE PICTURES, THE COUCH, THE CEILING. THESE STAIRS ARE SOOO WET.

Then we ate a very surly dinner. 

After dinner Coach had to teach a class on Zoom. He asked me to figure something out. Well, the carpet cleaners weren't likely to come anytime soon since we had a positive covid kid. Reg and I spent some time blotting the carpet (did I mention our basement stairs are carpeted? Insert growl here) with soapy water. Followed by more white towel drying. I thought the bad milk smell was already forming. Now I wonder if I'm just nose-blind to it.

It doesn't look bad, but it feels
crunchy and then there's the smell.
Tank called down from his the tower room where we keep him locked up:  WHAT HAPPENED?

Us:  You don't want to know. 

My feet, Reg's arm. Me barking mad, implied.

I had just started a load of towels before the milk flood, hours later I carried two MORE FULL LOADS OF milky towels up there. 

In more of the Shenanigan folklore that I believe but I do NOT remember, Tank reminded Mini that she was in no position to tease Reg about this mishap. 

Tank: Remember Mini, when you threw a gallon of milk at me and it exploded in the basement?

Mini: Yeah, but that was before Daddy fixed it up and it was just that gross tile and no carpet. 

Check out Elmo photo-bombing in my old Burger King booth in the basement. Reg wore Elmo for a few minutes on Halloween. Yes, Halloween - weeks ago and he has since been told to put Elmo away. When the kids were younger, I'd go in the basement regularly. Now they're SUPPOSEDLY able to carry up a gallon of milk on their own, so I'm a less frequent basement visitor. Crunchy carpet and bad smells threaten me less.

Wait, is she justifying throwing a gallon of milk at someone? I honestly don't remember this other milk gallon incident. Does this mean I will forget this one? Eventually maybe, but not anytime soon. 

The worse mess you ever encountered? Did you move?

November 13, 2020

Zoom laughs with footage of Curly's science class

Mini and Curly were doubled over the other day.  When they could finally breathe, they filled me in on what was so dang hilarious:  Curly's science teacher, Mrs. North.

It just so happens that Mrs. North lives in our cul-de-sac, two doors away from us.  I know, I know, more neighbor news.  As teachers go, she ranks pretty low.  As a neighbor, she's friendly and nice.  We don't really socialize with Mr. and Mrs. North, who are our age, other than to chat in passing.  I imagine she steers clear of fraternizing with parents of school kids.   Or maybe she sees us delivering Mary Ann packages and she's jealous.  

The junior high is blocks away from our house.  Mrs. North rides her bike to school sometimes and since we are on the corner, the back of our house has a great view of people coming and going in and out of the neighborhood.  Over the years my kids have gotten a chuckle out of seeing Mrs. North drive a car or walk her dog, but they especially enjoy seeing her ride her bike to school.  

I'm not gonna lie, someone usually hums Wizard of Oz bike scene music as a backdrop.  I remember as a kid being totally surprised to bump into a teacher outside of school - like the grocery store, but seeing a teacher while playing in your yard brings it to a whole other level.  

Our school had an amazing science teacher for grades 7 & 8, but they didn't replace her a few years ago when she retired.  They rely on Mrs. North, who used to only teach grades 5 & 6, to handle ALL of the science lessons.  She is weak at best.  Nice, but weak.  

Um, her control of a zoom classroom is the stuff sitcoms/movies of the future (when film makers portray 2020) will be made of.  

Curly has been telling me how some teachers suck at zoom.  I am laughing at this but I will be the first to admit that I would be one of the teachers who couldn't figure out the technological side of all of this, so I feel their pain.  

Back in the spring I witnessed the suckiness.  I heard Curly on a social studies zoom while I was at my desktop.  She was sitting behind me on the couch in the study.  

The teacher (not Mrs. North) told students that she had called on more than once in a frustrated tone, "Un-mute yourself," which made me chuckle.  

Then a few minutes later the teacher said something like, "OK, well I guess that's it."  Not sure what happened, but she didn't come back and class still had 15 minutes remaining.

I sat and listened to the students getting unruly and call out to each other across the internet.  It sounded just like a classroom without a teacher despite the fact that it was not taking place in an actual building.  Curly was like 'what the heck?'

Back to Mrs. North . . . Curly explained (while her computer was on mute during her science class) that Mrs. North started class with a guitar, pushing she and Mini over the edge with gut-splitting laughter.  

Mrs. North:  (this bit of dialogue was sung by her while strumming a guitar) Class, sometimes it helps to memorize things if you set it to music.

She went on to explain that she had a guitar with a broken string, so there wasn't much she could do with it, and she doesn't know how to play it anyway.  

Curly then described how Mrs. North doesn't know how to screen share.  She puts something on an overhead on her board and then walks in front of it, making it hard for students to see it. Plus the camera on her computer only captures a portion of what she has on the screen - leaving the kids to guess about the stuff at the perimeter.  

The class was winding down, so Curly asked Mrs. North if she would play the guitar again as a fun way to end the class.  Whose bold child is this?

I took a video of Mrs. North with the guitar and of her walking across the screen.  If you watch the video you can hear Curly scolding me for leaning in too close, fearing that I could be seen videoing the class.  

That's all I need, to get in trouble with yet another neighbor.  

One more e-learning tid-bit . . . 

Last week (this was actually a few months ago, so Tank didn't have covid yet) Tank insisted on driving to Culvers for lunch.  He found a coupon that NEEDED to be used because it was about to expire.  Why not eat the lunch meat that I buy so IT doesn't expire?  When he came back he asked me where Curly was because he bought her lunch.  No idea why Reg was left out of the fast food deal.  He was the only other kid home since Mini usually e-learns at a friend's house.  

Tank:  Where's Curly?

Me:  I think she's upstairs in a gym class.

If you had told me a year ago that those words would have come out of my mouth or that I would be spying on my neighbor playing a 3 string guitar for a bunch of bored 7th graders, I would have thought YOU CRAY-CRAY!

Anyone else have a memorable teacher run-in out side of school from their past?  Or anyone have a zoom story to share? 

Coming next week: the behind the scenes fun while we quarantine and how Reg made the BIGGEST mess ever. I still can't believe it.

November 11, 2020

Vanilla and the video

Turns out Mini's election video on Instagram got some attention. (this election thing happened in late September).

Vanilla, the MOM from across the street, forwarded Mini's video to another mom:  Nettie. Nettie's daughter DeeDee is one of Mini's closest friends. DeeDee and Mini:  best friends at Catholic School, where Mini attended through 2nd grade. Present day:  DeeDee and Mini are at the same high school, and have picked up right where they left off.

Meanwhile, Bean across the street, who attends a different high school (Catholic), knows DeeDee from grade school - which means Nettie and Vanilla know each other.  

Vanilla forwarded Mini's video to Nettie with this message:  SO THIS IS MEAN, RIGHT?

Just so we're all on the same page, a grown-ass woman who lives across the street from us, but doesn't speak to us for no ACTUAL reason . . . contacted another mom (Nettie) and asked her if she thought Mini was being mean. 

Mini makes fun of herself in the video for NOT having a dating life. How was THAT mean?

A mom I sit for (aka Twins' Mom) teaches at the high school. She told me before this election stuff that she wasn't sure which group of girls Mini hangs out with the most because she always sees her with a different group. Many girls are happy to chat with Mini. She has a very close-knit group of friends (BFF, DeeDee, Giggle-puss, Jeanie, and Addison), but she's friendly with most of her class.  

Anyway, I wanted to fight Vanilla. I would totally win. (I have visions of all of you shaking your heads saying, "NOT THE POINT"). I have enough anger about the other stressful shit going on in my life that I have ZERO patience for petty bull shit. 

Maybe Tank isn't the only boxer in the family.
Anyone out there who hasn't read this one? It's pretty humorous.

I MUST confront this woman. Tank is all in- ready to cross the street with me.  

Mini WAS fired up and ready to cross the street that night, but a few days later she became a little hesitant - not wanting to make Nettie look bad. Mini fears that it'll look as if Nettie called us up and told us about Vanilla questioning the video. I told Mini that Nettie can fend for herself. 

I have no problem telling Vanilla that DeeDee was in the room when her mom got the video and was like, "Huh, what's this?" causing DeeDee to bring her up to speed.  

People, hold me back.  This witch already doesn't give us the time of day, so nothing to lose. I might hand deliver her a magazine about available hobbies for her to peruse since she clearly has too much time on her hands.

I assume it's the middle child in me, but I have to speak up. Coach is totally OPPOSED. Don't stoop to her level, blah blah. Stooping to her level would be to ask another mom to weigh in on something Bean was involved in. BUT I DON'T CARE WHAT BEAN DOES.

I say take the bull by the horns.  

Weeks went by. I waited for my chance. I rehearsed my verbal assault while I cleaned the house. Finally one day, Tank came running in the house: 

Vanilla is out walking her dog. It's time. 

The babies had just been picked up. I got my shoes and my coat. I was ready. I invited Mini to join me, but she took a pass. Tank WANTED to join me, but Coach had just called. He was dropping off the Great White to get air in the tire and the people needed him to leave the car (it is all we do lately, get cars fixed). Tank had to go pick him up.

Vanilla walked in the opposite direction. Tank drove away and then called me to say she was heading back around towards us. "Over and out, the eagle flies at midnight."

I marched across the street when I saw her. She started to look a little uncomfortable the closer I got . . . still six feet. 

Me:  Hey, so . . . Mini is friends with DeeDee. DeeDee told her that you sent Mini's video to Nettie to ask her if Mini was mean.

Vanilla:  No, I wondered if the OTHER girl was mean. (So, the other girl, aka Tracey Glick goes to public school, doubt they have ever crossed paths and MINI SAID THERE WAS NO CHANCE SHE WAS CURIOUS ABOUT TRACEY. I believe her).

Me:  Whatever. You were asking about Mini. That's the way you worded it.

Vanilla:  Well, there's no tone in text. (I wanted to say, YOU KNOW WHAT DOES HAVE TONE? MY BICEPS AND YOU'LL KNOW MORE WHEN I KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF . . . kidding, a little).

Me:  I think it's super odd for an adult to follow what teenagers are doing on Instagram and then talk to other adults about it. 

Vanilla:  Well, it's public (Mini later pointed out that IT WASN'T PUBLIC, but Bean had been following her, isn't any longer - she thought it was weird since Bean cannot even say howdy from her yard. Here's where my lack of social media knowledge cost me).

Me:  Listen, Mini isn't mean. Everybody likes her. She has a self-deprecating sense of humor. I find your interest in her Instagram hard to grasp.

Vanilla:  Understood.

Well, that felt good. 

I intended to say 'Get a hobby' but I don't think I did. 


Me: Oh yeah, what're you gonna do about it? 

Kidding, but I have started wearing a black leather jacket and I'm keeping cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of my white t-shirt, and a blade in my sock in case Mary Ann wants to rumble one day.

Anybody else feel like a freak magnet? Where are all the normal people?

November 10, 2020

breaking news: BOUND TO HAPPEN

The inevitable has happened . . . one of us HAS IT. Damn it, this sucks. Big time.

I don't even think I can write about our quest to find him a test. It's still too fresh - and that was Friday . . . this is Monday. I'm not over the locate-a-test nightmare. I wanted to get him a 15 minute deal SO WE KNEW. Those seemed to only be available to people willing to donate a kidney or something. No idea. We didn't find one despite the delightful 4 hours I spent online trying.

Our pediatrician office is at the end of our street. Crazy close. They HAVE the quick tests, hooray - oh, wait . . . 

I switched Tank to our Family Practice awhile ago. The pediatrician wouldn't test him since he is no longer 'their' patient. I was tempted to have him walk in on his knees and hope for foggy medical person's PP gear (I'm calling it this because I don't know the name, Personal Protection gear . . . work with me, I'm stuck at home with ticked off kids and I'm losing a butt load of money, so GROUCHY).

The doc at the Family Practice called us at 1 pm on Friday - after I called there at 8:15 am. Oh, I guess I should point out that Tank started with a fever on Thursday evening. Backing up . . . 

Thursday night went like this:  Tank left his big ass size 15 men's shoes in my kitchen. I SCREAMED his name. Got distracted. Screamed his name again. While I shoveled dinner in my pie hole, Curly took over SCREAMING for him to get to the kitchen. I started to realize he was either dead or he had headphones in.

He walked into the kitchen looking dead. He'd been napping. Huh? At 5:30 pm. Why? He insisted he wasn't sick. 

I drove to my favorite place (Irish dancing). At a stoplight I texted the BRAND NEW FAMILY that was starting the next morning. "Remind me please what time you are dropping off?" 7:15.  Perfect, time to get to my early workout class.

Instead of waiting in my car, I came home. My house was begging to be organized. Tank called me on my way:  "Where do we keep the thermometer?" 


30 minutes later I called the BRAND NEW FAMILY (after I JUST asked them what time they were dropping off) to let them know my son had a fever. 

He couldn't have gotten sick while I was still sitting 3 days a week? Had to wait until I was bumping up to 5 days a week and getting paid 5 days a week? 

This poor family. Her first week back to work after having a baby and WHAMO - lost their babysitting. I feel awful. 

Anyway, the doc said he'd call in an order for Tank to test at a hospital. What if they had called in a test right WHEN I CALLED IN THE MORNING? He said I'd get the results on Sunday. Apparently he meant Monday. So, that was fun.

Hey, at least it was 74 degrees out when we waited in line FOR TWO HOURS.

Boring picture, but this was what it looked like
 once we got to the front of the line.

That's my silver lining.  The 74, not the 2.

Tank waited in the car, because his back hurt. Um, I waited in line for HOURS the previous morning at the DMV so my back felt perfect, thanks for asking. 

This is not much of a photo, but this is the line at the DMV after I was done and in my car. You can't see how far the line went but it was BLOCKS long. Nuts. I got there at 6:07 am and they opened at 7:30 am an I was done at 8:45 am. For all the lines I waited in last week, I could've been having some serious fun in Disney World.

Fast forward to today. Tank admitted that HE called the doctor's office yesterday (Sunday). I was like, huh? Tank:  "It's a doctor's office, they're always open." Sure.

Reggie has moved into Ed and Lad's empty room. Tank has been banished to he and Reg's room, the smallest room in the house. When he leaves his prison, he wears 4 masks on top of each other and uses hand sanitizer. 

I felt a little flush Sunday afternoon. I took my temperature several times. It got up to 99. I laid in my bed for a bit. My eyes felt a little sucked into my head. And my head felt a tad woozy. But all these things can be attributed to an impending lack of iron as I am INCREDIBLY anemic, and Aunt Flo is about to visit. I rallied, and got out of bed and went for a walk. 

Tank escaped last night to beg for more food (he usually texts or video chats to let us know that he needs nourishment and once to ask if he could shower). He shared that he was sort of wishing that I DID have covid because then EVERYONE would get it and he could re-enter shared spaces. 

Then he pointed out that his lamp wasn't working (I've been meaning to replace it, because even a new lightbulb doesn't always work, not reliable). He described how he sits in darkness. Eating his meals on the floor like a dog. He has moved a folding chair in there. In typical Tank style, he had me doubled over. 

If I could be guaranteed that we'd all end up with very mild symptoms like Tank (who had a fever on Thursday and a slight cough, but nothing since), I think we'd all share a cup of juice or a toothbrush or something. 

What if we quarantine, and next month someone else in the fam gets it? Then we have to quarantine all over again. No babysitting, etc. So, I want it but I don't want it. 

I just got the high school to put Reggie in the E group, so he can attend school daily. That guy NEEDS classroom style learning. *sigh*

I guess we will all get tested in a few days to see if anyone has it while symptom free. When I suggested this to Mini, she said, "Well, I mean you'd probably know if you had it because really only young people get it with no symptoms and you are old."

Pray for us, because after comments like that I'm not sure we are going to survive quarantining together. 

On Wednesday, I will return to my neighbor story - it's the finale (although with my neighbors, is it every really OVER?). Get excited. I think you will be surprised and pleased. 

November 9, 2020

enter Vanilla & old-enough kids: why God created windows and independence

In one of the venomous calls from Moody, she accused me of letting my kids play outside while she and the other moms (Vanilla and Wilson) supervised. My kids were now old enough to play without supervision. I can't help that some people park themselves on their driveways and stare at their 10 year old-ish kids. That's why God created windows and independence. 

I later learned that Moody was also upset because Tank had been invited to a kid's lake house for 5 days. Moody was ticked that Chuck hadn't been invited too. The lake house was owned by her good friend, who she doesn't speak to anymore (pattern forming?). The lake house mom (that mom is 'Friend-across-the-street' who still usually invites Tank on spring break with them) was like:  "Typical.  Nothing you can do."

Moody has not spoken to me since-8 years?  All three of her boys are on the golf team with Reg and Tank. Tank tells entertaining stories of their meltdowns and throwing golf clubs and threatening to tell on each other when they get home . . . as high schoolers. 

Moody HAS made it her life mission to convince other people to dislike me.  A mom actually said to me early on in this saga that people were relieved that Moody was fixated on hating me. Moody usually rotated her hating-focus on a different mom about every year (according to urban legend). Supposedly one of the moms was hated in part for wearing pig-tails. Moody was so busy hating me that she left everyone else alone. ** Insert me taking a bow.**

Enter: Ms. Vanilla.  As in, she's never had an original thought. She lives directly across the street from my front door also at the opening of the cul de sac. She has a husband (who is a great guy with a good sense of humor, Coach and I scratch our heads over this - so unfortunate because we would TOTALLY socialize with him, if his wife was not an impressionable poop).   

The Vanillas have two kids, their daughter, Vanilla Bean or just Bean, is the same age as Mini. Bean was friends with Mini when they were in Catholic school together. 

Moody hated Vanilla prior to hating me. Coincidentally, Vanilla's real first name is the same as my real first name. Moody used to say (in the days when she spoke to me):  

We call you good Ernie, and her bad Ernie. 

I didn't get it - is it really worth hating someone because they don't do much of anything and (one of Moody's issues with her) because they don't wave at you as they drive down the street? I was younger then and afraid to rock the boat. I was also the new kid on the block. I kept my mouth shut . . .  I started finding reasons NOT to hang out in the cul de sac with Moody.

The early years:  3 or 4 of my kids hanging in the cul de sac with the neighbors. Mini and Curly are sitting on the green riding car back to back, both with bows. Reg in the back of the red wagon. Might be Tank in front of green car but I think that's one of Moody's kids.

Vanilla and I were never close, chatted here and there.  Friendly-ish.  

When Moody nominated me as her person-to-hate, she took Vanilla under her wing and urged her to go from being somewhat friendly, albeit vacant, to hating me. Lord only knows what Moody said to Vanilla. I sensed Vanilla was super relieved to be off the hate list and on the good-neighbor list. Vanilla's family stopped talking to us, too.  We were no longer at Catholic school so we crossed paths less often.

About 3 years ago, we were out doing yard work. I know, shock. The Vanillas came into their front yard and froze (maybe they were in as much shock as you are), unsure how to proceed. I waved a very exaggerated:  "Hi there!"  They still sort of stood there. It's THAT awkward and we've NEVER done one thing to them. 


Moody's dad was a famous Chicago Blackhawk hockey player years ago. That impressed Vanilla, who probably hoped to score tickets, etc.  

Comparatively:  the day we met when Moody told me:  "My Dad is Mr. Famous" (and I didn't recognize it because I don't follow hockey), I was like:  "Oh, my dad's name is  Ralph." I thought she was just telling me her Dad's name, vs bragging about having a famous dad. Time to stop claiming:  Nothing gets past me.

I know, you've seen this - but I am pretty dang pleased with my little map.

To clarify:
  Mary Ann, and all of her pleasantness, is across from our side-entry driveway (see map), the front of my house faces the cul de sac. So Mary Ann's drama is separate, because life is a freaking party and maybe we should've stayed in geriatric-ville and just put a damn addition on that house.

So, that's the backstory, not as quick to 'splain as I hoped. If you read this you'll be rewarded in the next chapter . . . when Vanilla crosses me. There are also funny singing science teacher zooms on the horizon.

Oh, for 10 years the house behind us was vacant or occasionally rented out short-term.  I would often stare at it and hope for nice neighbors to move in, but I gave up.

Have I convinced you that we lost the neighbor lottery, or are you scratching your head thinking - it must be you?