December 30, 2020

Happy birthday to me, or not . . . it's up to you. No pressure. Well, maybe a little. AND PICTURES

I'm on the fence. Should I bother to bog? Is everyone still too busy enjoying family time to read blogs? 


Did someone forget my pants?

It's a pandemic people, AND it's my birthday. Let's all enjoy a little blurb about me. Then you'll each gift me, damn it, by leaving a comment for me. Today is the day you're ALL going to comment. Right? It can be a simple hello. Maybe tell me where you first stumbled upon my blog. Or your favorite blog post I've ever written. Or you can let me know that you're new here and that since I come across as very egocentric in this post, you won't be back. 

Personally if we're talking favorite posts, I prefer the AF post that I wrote while procrastinating a few months back. I'm also nuts about the mispositioned tampon story . . .  it was the funniest thing I ever witnessed. 

I get more comments when I post about earth shattering, sad stuff like Lad's mental illness or the heart-wrenching attempt at adoption post, but I'm not going in that direction today . . . even though I have a heart breaking ordeal I could share. I'm hopeful that that situation will turn around and I can share it more as a 'look at what almost got eff-ed up' story. Not holding my breath though. 

Me, freshly born.
My dad wanted to
 name me Bernadette.
I guess my
 nickname would've
been Bernie.
Turning 50 in a pandemic is gonna suck. No way around it. 

Remember last year when I shared that my vision of a 50th Bridesmaids-type-destination- birthday? I did NOT envision myself getting wasted, but inviting all of my friends somewhere might end up a bit like a scene from Bridesmaids. Not the puking scene. 

Most of my friends don't know each other, so it'd be a mixed bag of introductions, like when the ladies board the plane and become acquainted. I'd anticipate greetings like:  'Oh you're one of her swearing friends - I'll pray for you', or 'Hi, I'm quiet. This is the last time you will hear me speak', or 'I'm her sister in law, wait- what has she said about my parents on her blog?', or 'No, I'm NOT her sister - she didn't invite those two!', or 'Yeah, I used to Irish dance with her - she sucked', or 'That's what he said', or 'Anyone else ready for wine?' 

Ah, but alas - it's 2020 and that kind of mixed bag fun ain't happening. 

My birthdays aren't generally super awesome. So, bring it pandemic, you big ass hole. 

Other Holly Hobby fans? 

What I know about me after 50 years - the good, the bad, and the ugly . . . 

I like to write. I hope, for real, to get my first book finished and sent to a publisher or an agent or someone who might be interested later this year. Fingers crossed. 

This is one of my favorites. Is that a TV in the background?
 Never noticed. It's HUGE. I think this is at my grandparents' house. 

I'm stubborn, but not to a fault. Coach might disagree about the fault part. 

I'm oversensitive - wired that way and struggle to get past times when I've been wronged. I'm not even looking at Mary Ann here (although if the shoe fits . .  . ). The stuff my family of origin expects me to just ignore rankles me. Same with my in-laws. *I think things would've been smoother had Coach allowed me to tell his parents to go jump from time to time, instead of just grinning and bearing their shit. His style - not mine.

I don't consider myself confrontational - like I don't go looking for a chance to show off my mouthy side, but if you hurt me or one of my people or leave me on hold too long -  I'll tell you what I think without holding back. *Not one of my siblings does this. Just me. I attribute my insistence on getting in someone's face with the frustration I had growing up in a family that glossed over me. Things were rarely fair, and I fought hard against that. 

I rarely look cute after this age.
I love working out, well - when it's over. If you'd have told my younger self that one day I would almost NEVER skip an intense daily workout, I would've fallen over . . . and then struggled to get up, because "OH MY KNEES."

I miss gluten. Celiac disease has been a bummer, but there are definitely worse things and I'd probably be 20 lbs overweight if I could eat whatever I wanted. I made too many GF desserts for our Christmas and I appear to be making a run for that 20 lb version of myself. 

I started the plaid flannel fad. You're welcome.

I love to sleep. It's really that simple. Naps always welcome. 

I'm blessed to have a strong faith. No judgement here if you don't. This year more then ever, I've relied on my faith to keep me strong and hopeful. It's working for me. 

I swear like a sailor, despite the above. My God is a forgiving God who understands sometimes venting is good. It's just words, bitches!

Wish I'd been a teacher. I do, but I hope to be a better writer than the teacher I would've been. Having crap for a career has led me down this writing path. A path I still don't feel comfortable claiming for my own. I wonder will I FINALLY feel like a writer if I get this book published?

I suck at cleaning house and I'll make no apologies for that. Unless you come to visit me. 

I wish my hair was still this thick. 

I'm a wise ass. I like to make people laugh. Assuming you aren't here for my impressive vocabulary. 

Finally, I love my kids and Coach fiercely. I like my life. The stuff that hurts and drives me crazy and boggles my mind and weighs me down, all those experiences make me who I am. And sometimes, that shit gives me more blog content than I know what to do with. 

Here's hoping you enjoy what I share. Also,  I'm wordy. Thanks in advance for the comments that YOU WILL leave. I appreciate all of you and the time you spend here learning about me and my world. 

December 28, 2020

Guess what I got? And fun with Coach

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas. I have four words for you: 


If you haven't seen this hilarious video clip shared by my dear friend and hilarious blogger, Suz, please check it out now so you understand the significance of my robe gift. I'll wait. 

I couldn't stop laughing after I opened the robe. After everything was opened (thank God we don't have a dog. Turn the page, join us. I'm not anti-animal, just allergic and still referring to the above clip), I shared the SNL video with my people. They laughed their butts off too. Maybe a little bit too much.

I haven't worn a robe in FOREVER. Curly thought I needed one. 

I throw on workout clothes the minute I wake up, so no soup for me no robe for me. Back when I spent half the night breastfeeding someone or massaging someone else's knees (*explanation below), I threw on my robe and then showered during the 10 am showing of Sesame Street. Sweet Jesus, thank you for Sesame.

I'm not sad that my robe-wearing days are over - born of a too-tired-to-function necessity. Lounging sounds delightful, but it isn't in the cards for me. 

(*explanation:  looking at toddler Ed here with the constant TAP TAP on my shoulder in the middle of the night, "MOMMY, MY KNEES HEWRT." No joke, I sometimes hauled the world's largest baby aka Tank into Ed's bed where I served double duty:  MILK FOR YOU AND IF YOU LAY BEHIND THE BABY AND PUT YOUR LEG UP HERE I CAN MASSAGE YOUR KNEES TOO.

 HELLO, Ed's father is/was a PT . . . guess whose tired-ass self finally dragged Ed to the doctor? Not coach. Ed needed inserts in his shoes for his knock-knee issues. Ahem, and guess whose side of the family that trait stems from? Not mine).

Coach and I don't really exchange gifts. So I thought. He always says he doesn't need anything. I get him a few things. Like Peter Millar pants. Bought on sale. Can't resist those. I mean when they're on the sale rack, not on Coach. OK, maybe both.

I bought him a file crate (in addition to Millar pants). I hoped it'd clear up the paper/journal organization nightmare that surrounds his recliner. He started to set it up but was like:  WAIT, WHERE DO THE FILES GO?

Me:  Well, you get those hanging file things. They hook on here . . . (trails off as Coach becomes annoyed). What?


Me:  OK then. Send it back, but figure out another system because your papers can no longer be kept all around your chair. 

I then sashayed around the house spreading more Christmas cheer. 

On the 20th Coach and I went to church before the kids were awake. I broke out some new booties I bought myself. They're Josef Seibel. Feel like slippers. 

Coach:  Are those new?

Me:  Yes. I bought them yesterday.

Coach:  What? You got them yesterday? Why wouldn't you give them to me to wrap up for you? You usually do that.

Me:  Um, because you still end up taking the kids to get me something at Target. (translation: he is fooling no one here. The kids KNOW he doesn't shop. He says the kids insist on coming up with ideas for me and they want to be involved in shopping for me . . . SO WHY ARE WE STILL FAKING THEM OUT WITH THE STUFF I BUY MYSELF AND WRAP MYSELF?).

He's a man, so the mystery element here is implied.

In addition to the robe, I opened my booties that I took off in the garage and hid in Ed's locker after we got back from church until Coach could wrap them. Curly was awake in the kitchen when we got home, but didn't question why I was entering the house in my socks. 

I know, cute, right?

On Christmas Eve, he couldn't remember where he hid my booties for a little while. I was like -  why did you bother hiding them? He's a wonder, and he's all mine. 

If you don't get this, please see
my short post from just before Christmas.
 I'll most likely refer to this often.
Inside jokes are fun.

After I opened a sweater (something I also bought myself), Coach hopped up to turn the oven timer off in the kitchen.

The kids all leaned in close and shout-whispered to me:  WHY DOES DADDY DO THAT? WE KNOW HE DIDN'T BUY THAT FOR YOU.

Mini:  I was with you when you bought that.

Me:  He thinks he's fooling you. (eyerolls all around).

Coach also got me a desk chair. Previously my PT husband directed me to balance on a  giant yoga ball while I type. Necessitated by low back pain after sitting on a chair. The question:  why is my PT husband now advising me to sit on a chair? It hasn't been assembled yet. I'll report back. 

A potentially hurtful drama with my side of the family put a damper on Christmas evening. Twas a misunderstanding that was straightened out the next day. More later. During the icky-feeling, my kids and Coach were super supportive which restored my temporarily misplaced warm and fuzzies. 

In good news:  The used shit I bought all worked out, the kids loved their stickers from Red Bubble, I've slept like a log  3 consecutive nights, the laundry is all caught up (not sorted, but clean), and we've been eating huge delicious meals as if we might lose the privilege of eating very soon. 

Added bonus:  enough leftovers so that I do not have to cook all week. 

December 23, 2020

Who says size doesn't matter? A mostly photo post, with my new fav pic at the end

 I'm tired, so I'll be brief. (to quote Monty Python:  "And they all rejoiced.")

The dryer arrived today around 10 am. Perfect. I could spend the rest of the day getting caught up on laundry. 

*If I hear one more time that someone needs a pair of socks when there are 83 lone socks in a basket in my room that cannot be matched (none of which belongs to Coach or I), I will lose it. Clearly our otherwise super responsible and delightful children have a problem tracking socks. Now when push comes to shove I want them to all be forced to go find the matches in whatever ridiculous nooks and crannies where they shove them. Rant over.*

What came first the
 dryer or the door?
The issue:  the delivery men couldn't get the broken dryer through the laundry room door. As in, it appears our house was built AROUND our dryer. In fact, the contractor who moved the laundry room to the upstairs about 9 years ago most likely installed the appliances AND THEN built the doorway.

Am I the only one who fails miserably at finding smart contractors? 

A dreamy day off for Coach
with doorway reconstruction

Long story short:  we got the back off the old dryer, removed part of the door frame, banged the snot out of the protruding dryer parts . . . all while the delivery men stood and stared at us. Fairly certain we qualify as their worst delivery ever. I want a trophy. Even after we mangled it, the dryer was too big to squeeze through the door - but just barely.

The delivery guys suggested they bring the new one back to the store and I pick out a smaller dryer. I think I made all of you proud by REFUSING that option. 

Coach: The old dryer was 7.5 cu feet and this one was 9.5, so hey why not just stick with 7.5?

Me:  Well, the 7.5 cu feet is not fitting through the door either, so the only one that might fit would be like ITTY BITTY, apartment size. I can't make that work.

The delivery guys begged us to stop holding them hostage. We asked them to bring the new one upstairs. After they left, Coach removed the rest of the wooden door frame and the old one slid out and landed in my bedroom near the new one. It left my bedroom in a state . . . 

Sweet, my room the appliance graveyard, along with misplaced pack and plays, and baskets of dirty laundry.

View from my room, now crowded with two dryers,
to the laundry room down the hall.

Summary:  Coach removed the door frame, shaved off the drywall a bit, and the new dryer was SO CLOSE. He and Reg tried . . .  

Coach then removed the drywall on one side of the doorframe and then he yanked off the first round of 2 x 4s that frame the door.

I didn't know that what I really wanted for Christmas was a wider entrance to the laundry room. I know, you're all jealous.
He positioned the new dryer, hooked it up, and needed to go to the hardware store. Well, 2 stores to find one part - and that part didn't work. Then he went back to one of the stores and bought all the available sizes of the part. (Note: the directions claimed a specific size would work - but they were wrong, so that was fun).

The dryer is working - but Coach spent approximately 9 am till 9 pm dealing with this nonsense. 

A beautiful thing. Gray dryer on the right LEFT: "Hey, I'm new here."
The dryer is flashing a warning: vent is blocked. But it isn't. And Coach just mentioned that the directions call for the dryer to be connected to a cold water spout. Huh? We are hoping that the dryer will still function - maybe just not some of the fancy cycles? So smooth as silk.

Remember when I posted how everything seemed to take longer than necessary? Understatement. 
And this is the bonus pic . . . I was baking and the kids kept saying "someone texted you" - it was a text from Tank with this photo. Confession:  before being diagnosed with celiac I had some wicked bad gas. The kids still act as if this is an ongoing issue. It isn't, I swear . . . feel free to invite me to your place, in say Georgia. (wink, wink)
This photo had me doubled over. I didn't even notice Tank putting the dryer's sticker on my back.
Merry Christmas, my friends. Enjoy celebrating whatever it is you celebrate. I hope you are able to be surrounded by some of your people and relax and create wonderful memories. (I'll probably still be catching up on laundry).

December 22, 2020

Deliver me, oh Lawd: how sharing a house number with Mary Ann is my cross to bear

I don't think I shared the last Mary Ann summer package dilemma. "Stop me if you've heard this." Well, that might be tough. That comment might make more sense if you ran into me at a barbeque and I'd just had a few adult beverages and was slurring my words and swaying. Dare to dream.

I've glanced through my posts (about as thoroughly as one might do a few days before Christmas with other things that still need attention), and I don't think this story ever made it to the blogosphere.

*As a reminder, earlyin the summer  Mary Ann was mad enough to chew nails because a delivery guy handed Curly a package while she was playing on the driveway. Curly plunked it on our kitchen island. We all ignored it for no more than 45 minutes. It didn't arrive in your typical Amazon brown box. Instead:  white box. Picture of a fan. White label with Mary Ann's address. Guess what's tough to see? A white label on a white box. Plus we were busy, and unaware that if her new air purifier didn't get delivered there might be hell to pay. I texted her after she scolded Coach thinking one of our kids had opened her outer brown box. More reason to think she runs a drug ring through her deliveries. DID YOU OPEN THIS? I NEED MY CHILL PILLS. MY UPPERS, MY DOWNERS. WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY? Anyway, my text was to the point. It basically spelled it out:  didn't open it. Didn't notice the white label. Didn't ask for your package to be delivered here. Up. Yours. - in so many words.*

In August, she texted me. It was one of those 'WHERE'S THE BEEF MY PACKAGE' texts, but I noticed a sickly sweet after taste to it. Bottom line was she had yet to receive her daughter's covid test kit. Daughter wouldn't be able to go to Notre Dame for her scheduled time slot if she didn't take the covid test 10 days in advance.

I'm not a monster. I didn't WANT daughter to have a screwed up college experience. I just found Mary Ann's change in tone interesting. Maybe she FINALLY got the message from my 'take your white boxed air purifier and jam it up your ass' (not in those exact words) text. She asked about Ed: "When will he return to school?"

I'm always touched when an extremely self-involved person decides to pretend to be interested. 

Daughter's covid test package never arrived here. I assume they received it at some point because about 10 days later there was a commotion on Mary Ann's driveway.

Mary Ann's car radio was cranked up. The car was loaded with college stuff. Grandparents were there delivering hugs to daughter. It appeared to be a college sendoff. Then a thing happened that I cannot un-see . . .  

Mary Ann stepped next to the car and danced IN BROAD DAYLIGHT to whatever music was blaring (sorry, you know me and music. -can't remember the song). A self-righteous, uptight, high strung, white woman attempting to dance is not a sight that should happen unless we are standing at a barbeque armed with the afore-mentioned adult beverages. 

Daughter probably couldn't get her shit unloaded in her dorm room fast enough. 

For the record, I didn't respond to Mary Ann's 'and what about Ed' text with any Ed info. Just the facts:  NO COVID TEST HAS BEEN DELIVERED HERE. WE'LL KEEP AN EYE OUT.     

Enter the Christmas season, also known as HATE THY NEIGHBOR SEASON for those of us who live across the street from someone with the same damn house number.

I've gotten a couple of "HEY ENRIE, HAVE YOU SEEN MY PACKAGE? FEDEX CLAIMS IT ARRIVED 11.5 MINUTES AGO AND I DON'T SEE IT. THANKS!" texts this month. We always scurry around looking through the stack of boxes by the front door in search of her stuff fearing the house might spontaneously combust. But we haven't found any . . . until today, as I prepared to draft this. Honest. UPS delivered a package for her and I made Reg run it across the street like the wind.

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Then the other day she texted me this:  

Riveting, I know.
The messages are more civil, thanks for small favors. But she'd been asking me about a box from Ulta. So I asked if that's what we were still looking for. Then she decided to share what was in the missing package - which honestly wouldn't help me because I opted not to renew my x-ray vision this year.

I saw:  DEACON ALB in her text and I thought. Oh, yeah - wait, WTF is that? I googled it. 

Mary Ann's husband became a deacon over the summer. He's a nice guy. Tank heard her order him around on the driveway a few months back and it made him shudder. Just so you know, it isn't just me. 

Anyway, after a thousand years of Catholic school I learned that a Deacon Alb is a garment. Anyone else find it interesting that Mary Ann wanted me to know what was inside this particular box? She's transparent as hell. At the risk of sounding envious of her 'situation' for being married to a deacon and all, which really, I embrace my faith and feel blessed to have it, but she can go ahead and be married to the deacon. I'm good, or should I say I'm NOT good? . . . I don't think deacon's wives are allowed to swear like a sailor, so I've already braced myself to never be part of that particular designation. Shucks.

I have a theory:

Having a husband as a deacon is a feather in her cap, and  mentioning it would insure that I KNEW he was a deacon. I mean, feather away, lady. Load your damn cap with feathers. But if new feathers get delivered here by mistake, don't get all cranky and then a minute later start dolling out the 'Have a blessed day' stuff. It's really tough to swallow.

Have you ever seen a deacon's wife in a movie? Is it me, or aren't they always the pucker-faced, tight-ass types who don't ever have any fun? If the shoe fits, or in this case the Alb. 

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm not as scroogies as this post makes me sound. If you aren't too busy wrapping, check back tomorrow . . . I might have another post up my non-Alb wearing sleeve. (it's just too easy sometimes)

December 21, 2020

a no-laundry hack, no longer Beverly Hillbillies, & Merry Christmas to us

I've learned how to avoid laundry when feeling over-tasked by Christmas-related chores. Lean in close and I'll share my secret  . . . get your dryer to die. 

OK, so maybe not the most economical suggestion. This could lead to a bit of a headache. For starters, you'd have to shop for a dryer - during this, the most financially draining time of the year. Plus you'd be forced to go without clean clothes for a few days. You'd have to free up your calendar so that when the new dryer arrived on the 22nd you'd be willing and ready to do approximately 10 loads of laundry. 

Yes, unfortunately, I speak from experience.

Curly had four little friends over to bake Christmas cookies on Saturday. I made a mountain of dough the day before. That's where my well-organized plan ends. They hung out in the basement while I covered my table with wax paper. Who knew that could take so long? 

I was dripping in sweat by the time I had shoved their individual baking sheets in the oven. Taken them out. Shoved them back in. Set them on drying racks. Lit the candles on the cake, took their photo (while having Curly facetime the one girl who couldn't come), videoed them singing happy birthday, whipped up a bucket of frosting, divided frosting into little bowls with various colors, and scattered about 25 cookies cutters all over the table. SOLO. 

The only food coloring colors they had at the tore were weird, but they made them work. The orange was the most unseasonal.

Mini DID bake a boxed cake for the party that morning without burning the house down, which is a huge accomplishment for her. Then she napped all afternoon after sleeping over at a friend's house the night before. 

Coach preferred to disappear, so he went to workout. 

Curly couldn't have been more grateful, but I was exhausted and so glad when it was over. 

Anyway, as we were cleaning up the house before the girls arrived, I sent Curly to see if her jeans were dry in the upstairs laundry room. 

ASIDE:  A little fun trivia about the Shenanigan laundry method:  I wash whatever loads look like they're in need of getting done. I have 3 baskets labeled in the laundry room. My friend, Becky, died laughing the day she saw my choice in basket-labeling verbiage. 1. Underwear & socks. 2. Workout clothes. 3. Real clothes.

My reference to 'real clothes' pertains to clothes that one wouldn't wear while working out. Coach's casual work clothes, jeans, tops, sweaters, things that should be removed from the dryer so that they don't wrinkle - those are real clothes. They require real attention. I mean workout clothes ARE real, but if I leave those in the dryer or don't fold them right away NO ONE WILL CARE. 

The boys rarely wear jeans or anything 'real'. Mini leaves her dirty clothes in a corner until her only option is to be naked. So, the real clothes bin isn't typically begging to be washed. 

Curly pointed out to me the day before that I hadn't washed jeans in FOREVER. Oops. I guess I was on autopilot and hadn't even glanced at the towering pile of real clothes. I did a load early Saturday morning so that she'd have something to wear when her friends were over.

(back to our story in progress)  Curly came downstairs frustrated that her jeans weren't dry yet. She alerted us that the upstairs smelled REALLY bad.

Bad smells in our house can be easily attributed to a brother, so I thought nothing of it. When I ran upstairs to shower, I checked on the dryer. Um. I smelled burning rubber. No repair guy necessary. The dryer has been with us since the last one broke a few days after Reg was born (another bad time for a dryer to die, what's your worst washer/dryer dying story?). Translation:  it was almost 15 years old. 

I laid my hand on it and whispered:  You're work here is done. 

There were jeans hanging all over the house.

Well no, I didn't actually say that. I believe I strung together some other choice words and announced in a semi-hysterical huff to the household that our dryer bit the dust. 

While the girls decorated their cookies, I dabbed the sweat from my brow and looked at the Sears Outlet (now called something else) on my laptop. It's less than a mile from our house.

"Hello. What's the biggest gas dryer you sell?"  

$1,000 later, Coach said those words every woman dreams of:  Merry Christmas, here's your new dryer.

Today I wrapped gifts. Baked desserts that I can freeze. I'm positioning myself to handle the laundry storm come Tuesday. 

We paid to have the dryer delivered. Extra to have it hauled up the stairs and have the old one hauled away. Who are we? In the olden days when we were more prone to rub two coins together (when we could find 2 coins), we would've been more likely to do our best Beverly Hillbilly's imitation. This, my friends, is a sign. We're moving up in the world. Or getting older and less stupid. 

So since there won't be much congregating on Christmas, will you be wearing 'real clothes'? Or will you not bother? 

I'm planning to post a holiday Mary Ann edition tomorrow. A little something for you to enjoy while I claw my way out from under mounds of laundry.

December 18, 2020

Wait, where are my hashbrowns? And other adventures

Today I ran to the grocery store. At 11:00 in the morning. 

This daring feat was made possible by the fact that I had babysitting-aged, responsible e-learners home, aka Mini and Curly (my apologies to Tank and Reg who are both fine if I'm absent for 10 minutes, but let's not push it)

The kids were giddy with 'it's almost Christmas break' happiness. Which made it a good time to slip out and not have people ticked at me. Or, so I thought. They each kept entering the kitchen to make me aware of the number of hours, or homework assignments, or Zooms they had left till break.(I kept nodding at each countdown as I baked cookies for the families I babysit for to go along with the homemade photo collage ornaments we made late last night, prompting Mini to ask the pressing question:  WHY DO WE ALWAYS WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO MAKE THESE?)  

My ornament making sweatshop. Should I be concerned
that Curly is addicted to modge podging?
I also had a car. Temporarily. Tank would be taking it to his job when the half day of e-learning wrapped up. 

The clock was ticking. 

The twins were my only charges today. They were napping. Should I have bolted the minute I laid them down and done the cookies later? These are the unknowns my mind grapples with daily. 

I never said it was easy being me. 

Curly was e-learning in the kitchen and she agreed to listen for the twins and get them if they woke up. I hoped not to be gone long. 

I never said I wasn't delusional and silly. 

Curly turns 13 on Saturday. She invited a few friends over to bake cookies. I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be fine. She hangs with them outside of school pretty regularly, so they're in our bubble. I guess. 

My mission at the grocery store was to load up on baking supplies. And liters of pop. And some other stuff. Well, lots of other stuff. I overdid it. An older woman  gasped loudly when passing me:  OH, YOUR CART!

I considered sharing a true story with her:  after we quarantined for 2 weeks I came to the grocery store just before Thanksgiving and pushed two carts to the tune of $700. But the clock was ticking and the store was crowded.

I decided to grab a few bags of frozen hash brown potatoes in case I decided to make a breakfast casserole for Christmas. The isle was crowded, so I left my cart at the end of the isle and grabbed the spuds. I darted to the chip isle next to stock up on salsa. **Lord, thank you for making chicken tacos possible in the crockpot, and thanks for reminding me that I struggle to keep the salsa in my pantry while I was still at the store and not just after I'd gotten home.**

I grabbed salsa and loaded it into my cart . . . um, but the cart WAS NOT MINE. This mystery shopper also bought butter, and yogurt, and Christmas tissue paper but WHAT THE HELL WAS ALL THIS OTHER CRAP?

I've NEVER done this. To be clear, I'm not sure if I took her cart of if she took mine. I've decided this fun sawp-o-rama could only happen if we were buying a few similar items and if we had our carts filled with about the same quantity. With all those boxes checked, it now lead to a fun adventure which caused me a bit of a panic. I didn't have time to retrace my steps. This was a covert operation. 

I raced back to the frozen isle. A woman was wandering around with a few items in her hands looking somewhat confused - I could read her expression despite her mask. 

Me:  Are you looking for your cart? I think I took yours (OR she took mine, but I wasn't about to point fingers and since she was without a cart, I'm going to admit fault. People around us laughed).

Tank called me. He wanted to know when I'd be home. Both babies were awake. I told him to have Mini warm up bottles. I was on my way to checkout. 

My total was $400. So much for a quick run. 

On my way home, I called to make sure the babies were now drinking their bottles.

Me:  I want all of you on the driveway ready to unload. 

One of the 9 mo old twins refused her bottle. She likes me to feed her, even then - crapshoot. After hauling in enough to feed a small army, we discovered that we had no room in the Inn fridges. Ms. Fussy Pants was crying. The kitchen was covered in groceries. The twins needed lunch. My teenagers were hollering at me for taking so long. I needed a do-over button. Or a Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Me:  (to my teens) Zip it. You seem to like to eat food. You're welcome. You don't want big loans for college, right? Well, my babysitting fund is your tuition ticket. You're welcome, again. Pitch in and help, it won't kill you.

(to the twins) You're fine. I'm-a-coming with the lunch food. Chill. (tosses a handful of Cheerios on their trays while unloading a grocery bag with my free hand).

(to Reg, who I heard did little to help while I was gone) Don't leave this room until all the cold stuff is put away (cringes as he grabs milk gallons to bring down to the basement).

While the girls ate their finger food, I organized the main fridge. Coach came home and was like: DID I FORGET TO TAKE THAT GARBAGE CAN OUT? HOW DID WE FILL AN ENTIRE GARBAGE CAN TODAY? 

Me:  That was stuff from when I cleaned out the fridge. 
The kids like to ask me to buy more cream cheese, but they don't throw away the empty containers. (insert 18 other examples). HEY FAMILY, YOU'RE WELCOME!  

Another person who should show me some gratitude:  the woman in the grocery store whose cart I briefly hijacked. Bet she didn't even KNOW that she wanted two 30 oz bags of frozen hash browns. Since my two bags never made it to my freezer, I assume I left them in her cart. You're welcome!

Also:  In my rush to race to the store, I failed to take inventory. Oops. We are currently storing 10 dozen eggs and one dozen hard boiled eggs. You're welcome, breakfast lovers. 
What on earth is wrong with me? I do plan
to do a lot of baking, but this is a lot even for me.

What do you overbuy? Do you live with people who don't toss empty containers? Or people who open ANOTHER identical, giant salad dressing?

December 16, 2020

envelopes, a new best friend, overdue adult beverage, a trick on Curly

I attempted to print envelopes Saturday night despite my growing awareness that everything this season is just going to take me LONGER than necessary.

I congratulated my '19-self for being so stinking clever. I saved the mail merge file with instructions:  ADDRESSES 2019 JUST ADD RECEIPIENT LIST FROM COMPUTER FINISH AND SEND. Country Mouse (reference from last post, in case you are confused) was acting all techie and shit.  

My printer wouldn't print. It finally printed 6 of 215 envelopes after hours of me trying to coax it to do its job. Then it kept telling me:  'out of paper.' Telling the computer I was printing on envelope-sized paper wasn't enough. The sensitive printer insisted I change the settings on the actual printer. Still wouldn't work. What. The. Hell. Naughty words launched from my mouth faster than you could say this is almost as bad as buying a phone at Walmart. 

Coach tried to help. He craned his neck to look in the printer. Um, there he found not one BUT TWO PENS in the spot where the paper feeds. Oops. We unplugged. Cleaned nozzles. Realigned. Begged. Cussed (just me, not Coach). Nothing. I called stores, tried to find someone who could help, asked about inventory. The little old lady who fixed it a few months ago in the shop out of her garage answered her phone at 8 pm on a Saturday night and tried to talk me down. 

It would print nothing. Normal paper or envelopes. Guessing using it as pen storage was unwise. 

Tank:  Let's all take a stack and write the addresses on the envelopes. 

That would be confusing - who is writing which ones. Plus I sometimes make last minute adjustments, and hello poor penmanship.  DON'T WRITE ON THAT!  (that's our family's favorite all time clip. It's like 10 seconds) Besides, the mail merge WORKED. A small Christmas miracle. It'd kill me to not use it. 

I checked printer inventory online at area stores. It was Saturday night, places were closed. Then a Target  (not our nearby Target, of course) claimed to have one. I called. They had two. I got ready to leave. Coach had retreated to the family room to watch football with Ed and Tank. He had that WHO-DID-I-MARRY expression on his face. 


Well, sure you can ask Ed, but since you're a man I don't suppose you know what it means to make a list during the holiday season and to hope to wake up without the same shit on that list. My house doesn't have ONE SINGLE decoration up yet. Unless you count lights outside that look slightly better than the way Coach usually does them. (And we all rejoiced).

As a general rule in a printer emergency one should only shop for a new device at a store that sells alcohol. Skip Best Buy. I grabbed a Brother printer vs the Epson that I already have, and hit the booze isle. I bought me some Mike's Hard Lemonade and Ed/Coach some beer. I cannot remember when I last drank an alcoholic beverage. What is with that? It's a flipping pandemic, woman. This is about survival. Bottoms up. 
My cart.
I headed to the store at 8:20 pm. 45 minutes later I was home and a wilted Coach and a perky Mom-bought-me-beer Ed were setting it up. I did the self-checkout and the dang printer still had an alarm on it when I got home. When we cut the alarm off the box, the thing started beeping like crazy. No, we did NOT sneak over and leave it on Mary Ann's front porch - tempting as that was. Instead, Ed took it out on the front porch and beat the snot out of it.
Result of Ed's smashing. Coach in
background reading instructions. 
Someone needs to be responsible.
"Hey neighbors! Nothing to see here. Just appears that we stole something, but I swear we didn't."

Coach moaned that this was going to take forever to setup, but then a guy in the football game, they were taking breaks to go watch, took an opponent's shoe and chucked it 20 yards down the field. I always say, there's nothing like an unprecedented football shoe tossing to keep the I'M-AFRAID-OF-MY-CRAZY-WIFE-WHO-MIGHT-THROW-OUR-PRINTER-OUT-THE-FRONT-WINDOW mood from getting too heavy. 

They enjoyed their beers and the setup really didn't take that long, plus they enjoyed grilling me about how I got a printer out of a store while it was still wearing an alarm. It was only $153, was an alarm necessary? I have the receipt to prove I bought it, in case you're wondering. 

I considered using my new purchase and returning it the next day, but I LOVE IT. My new best friend. My envelopes were printed by 10:30 pm. I knew something was going to run amuck when I bought my Epson printer a few years ago and specifically selected the one with print cartridges that never run out. That ended well. Print cartridges are still plenty full. Score one for Epson's marketing team.  

Curly and Reggie were at their friends' house for the tale end of the PRINT-MY-ENVLOPES-OR-DIE-TRYING drama. When they got home, I was in the study typing away on my blog and occasionally filling the paper tray with more envelopes. I felt all warm and delighted with my Brother printer, running smooth as silk. Guzzling my first Mike's in FOREVER was not hurting. 

The smashed up alarm was in the kitchen. Curly asked what it was. Coach told a tall tale.

Coach in a loud whisper:  Well Mommy was so mad that her printer broke (which Curly already witnessed) that she went to Staples and stole a printer. She was like "it isn't right that my printer broke, so I deserve a new one."

From my spot in the study I decided to play along. 

I conjured up my recently utilized angry voice and shouted:  Coach, I wasn't going to tell Curly that. WHY'D YOU TELL HER? Just forget Daddy told you, Curly. My damn printer shouldn't have broken. 

Coach burst out laughing a minute later. He said Curly's face was all kinds of horrified. Even Mini fell for it, briefly. 

Glass of Mike's hard, black cherry. 
Nothing like a little alcohol and the hum of a new printer to lead to bad parental choices. Anyone else struggle with mail merges and printers? They switch off for me:  mail merge works, printer sucks. Next year I'll lead with Mike's. Maybe I should save THAT message in my document title. 

December 14, 2020

twining with Kristy, country mouse, no wearable blanket, & dress me like a donkey (NOT)

Today I woke up looking like Kristy McNichol, so that's fun. Too young to remember Kristy? I've supplied a photo. 

Thank you biographypedia for this photo
I went to bed WITHOUT a blemish on my face - note I didn't say wrinkle free or anything crazy -and I woke up with a red circular scratch-like-thing. My mark shows up in the same place as Kristy's. Same size. No joke. 

Coach was like, "Did I do that?" - but not in an annoying Urkel voice (from Family Matters). I'm really dating myself. Rest assured, my facial blip is NOT the result of, well, anything that went on in our room last night (wink, wink). How did I scratch myself and not wakeup? Did something bite me? This morning I thought I'd fallen asleep with chocolate on my face. I tried to wipe it off. 

As the day unfolded, I decided waking up with a mysterious facial mark was a sign. I should've stayed in bed. Here's why:  

I'm noticing a trend this holiday season. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is taking me at least 20 times longer than it should. Killing me. 

Dad's list:  My dad gave us a list of books he wanted for Christmas. He didn't give links. I saw his list in my email and  I mistakenly allotted 10 min to order him a book or two. Over an hour later, I wanted to pull what little hair I have out of my head. 

My Christmas poem:  This was the earliest I've sent it to the printer. I emailed him a copy late Wednesday night. I checked my email a few times on Thursday morning for his response. 

He's been printing my poem for YEARS. The year I learned that they'd also fold it in a machine for next to nothing, I almost wept. He usually emails the minute he gets it and then lets me know  within hours that he has a proof for me to look at via email. I was walking out the door Thursday evening to Costco when I realized that he hadn't emailed me. Had his business closed? 

I called him. He answered. (Costco trip delayed). Told me he loved this year's poem. We chatted, as we do. His daughter Irish danced back in the day, so  he's a survivor he likes to hear how Curly's placed at Thanksgiving each year. I finally admitted that I hadn't seen an email from him. 

He HAD emailed me - it landed in SPAM. Darn it. Why? That's never happened. I was hoping to get the poems back ASAP so I could stuff them in my cards over the weekend. Foiled. 

Late Friday, I remembered to check SPAM. He'd emailed me AT 9 AM THAT MORNING to say they were already ready. Great turn-around, but now the warehouse where I pick them up was closed. Till Monday. Gosh. Darn. It.

But I was like, no worries. I'll focus on the envelope printing.

You know where this is headed don't you?

New-to-us-gifts:  Before I could tackle the envelopes, I drove all over kingdom come to collect the giant moon chair that I bought for Tank for Christmas. It's gently used - prefect for his future college dorm room. By the time I thought to get him one there was no inventory. Again:  added time, no easily clicking a few buttons at Amazon.  Remember how I had to redo my iPad shopping after that moron Kee decided not to 'reserve' for me. See? My timing trend is real.

From that moon-chair-place 30 minutes from home, I drove another 30 minutes downtown - as in walking distance to Navy Pier, like DOWN. TOWN. I met a guy there with Powerbeats3 by Dre. Wireless headphones. It's a teenage thing. These were new, never used. I waited in my minivan outside his hip building for kind of a long time. Maybe 10 minutes. I wasn't even sure which direction he was coming from because there were lots of buildings . . . 

 . . . someone I know is suddenly sounding like Country Mouse visiting the city for the first time. 

He approached my car. I handed him $55, only it turns out - we agreed to $65 and I messed up. I had 3 singles. He had no change for my larger bill. He finally accepted the whopping $3, shrugged and said no big deal. I FELT LIKE AN ASS. Really, I cringed for most of the 30 minute drive home.

I texted him when I got home and asked for his Venmo or Quickpay so I could send him another $10. He said not to worry and Merry Christmas. I told him it was my mistake and that I really hadn't intended to behave like an idiot. Still, he wouldn't take any digital moola. 

So he's the alter ego of Kee. Grateful that I came across a forgiving dude, since I was off my A game. EMBARRASSING. 

In other shopping/ family news:  I am refusing to purchase Mini her request for a wearable blanket. This girl. She can get way too comfortable in sloth-mode. These are not even cheap - like over $50. And what's wrong with the 8 hoodies she owns?
Photo of wearable blanket, compliments of Amazon.
I got an email from Williams-Sonoma that my mom's gel mat is going to be late. I ordered it on Dec. 3rd. What in the world?

I texted my sister, Marie, to ask if she was going to be in town from Milwaukee or if I should mail the gift I bought for my goddaughter. 

Marie:  I don't know yet. I'm trying to figure out something fun to do for mom and dad. So far the only thing I could think of was to do a living nativity in their backyard for them.

Well, dress me up and call me a donkey, I just didn't see that coming. Marie is a kiss ass, but seriously?

Thank goodness this was a text, because I wouldn't have been great at concealing my response . . . which was WHAT THE HELL? DO NOT INVITE US TO JOIN IN THAT FIASCO. I have to wonder, is it exhausting for her to work so hard to maintain her (perceived, but most likely accurate) number 1 position? Embracing my low rung on the family ladder over here. Gel mat gift late or not, acting out the nativity is not on my bucket list and I'm just not that generous a gift giver. 

Anyone else anticipating shipping delays? Plan to act out the nativity? Oh, the envelope story . . . tomorrow or Wednesday. It's hilarious, promise. Thanks to my friend, Hindsight. 

December 11, 2020

jinxed myself, ding-a-ling-long, AND SHARING BEST PHOTO EVER

Curly was due December 25, 2007. She arrived the 19th. The doctor said my babies were too big to let me go late, so he insisted on inducing me. I had hoped the baby would be born AFTER Christmas. In my experience babies were usually easier to care for when they were still 'cooking'. 

Sweet Curly. Still sweet, now with lots of fluffy hair and
look - she was pointing her toes even then!

Doc:  I'm afraid you'll end up going into labor on Christmas Eve. The other 5 kids don't want mom in the hospital on Christmas. 

He won, even though I had a very good argument:  my babies had always arrived after a doctor forced them out. I didn't anticipate this one being any different.

I made all of my birth announcements, and Curly's was one of the most memorable:  combo birth announcement/Christmas card. Before she arrived, I wrote a short poem (like 12-16 lines) fashioned after 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'. I drafted a version geared towards 'IT'S A BOY' and changed a few words for the 'IT'S A GIRL' version to be prepared. The day after I got home from the hospital I happily printed out the girl version with Curly's info inserted. We snapped a photo of all the kids in Christmas attire, stuck it to the front of the card, and mailed them out. They arrived (at least locally) on Christmas Eve. 

My wonderful elderly neighbor asked me shortly after:  You know all your friends hate you right?

Me: Huh?

Wonderful elderly neighbor:  I mean your birth announcements were handmade. They rhymed. The photo was perfect. They arrived in mailboxes 5 days after you had your 6th kid. Your friends hate you for making them all look bad. (then she laughed her butt off. And so did I. She was a great neighbor). 

Taking a chance here that some person from my actual life will stumble across this photo, recognize us, and share it with Mary Ann. Don't care. Too cute not to share. This is the actual photo that was on our Christmas card. (We took about 100 shots). Mini has never been so happy. This photo alone oughta be responsible for my most comments ever, bring it people.

That poem birth announcement received such rave reviews that I did a new version the next year detailing what we were up to as a Christmas card minus the new baby details. I just sent version 14 to the printer a few nights ago. The Christmas poem has gotten quite lengthy in recent years. Sometimes it requires the front and back of a legal size paper. I add photos along the edges and along the bottom. It's a labor of love. My kids kind of roll their eyes about it, but I do received notes from people saying it isn't Christmas until they get my card. 

Anyway, this year one of the best lines is: 

Just as the shoemaker's children have no shoes, guess what happens to a PT's wife?

When the meniscus in my knee complains off and on, I hear about how that's just part of life.

The morning after I sent it to the printer I woke up and my bum knee that has been basically fine for MONTHS was all wonky. It was stiff and tight and begging me not to use the stairs, etc. 

A day later it has improved greatly, but still not 100%. Can you EVEN though?

Shopping updates:  I'm not opposed to buying used gifts for my children, or even Coach. Curly has been using my ancient iPad for Irish dancing Zoom classes. The screen is cracked and it barely holds a charge. Time to upgrade. 

I plan to give an iPad to Curly with the understanding that it needs to be available for siblings who need to Facetime for fiddle lessons, etc. We usually don't do such pricey gifts, but after eliminating so much stuff from closets, I don't feel like adding unnecessary clutter. 

I figured I'd save a bit and buy a used iPad online.  This sounded so simple. I've bought stuff on LetGo, FB marketplace, and Craigslist. The issue:  I didn't know much about the many version of iPads. I read up. Hello, time consuming.

You know what else is time consuming? Checking various websites, waiting for responses to questions, comparing listings, re-checking to see if anything new has popped up, comparing used stuff with similarly priced items on Amazon, and then wondering WHAT'S AN APPLE PENCIL AND WILL SHE EVEN USE THAT? 

For the love of God - at this point I think it would've made more sense to JUST BUY A NEW ONE. 

*imagine me banging my head on the wall (and then stopping because "Was that a ding, did I just get an alert that someone from FB just messaged me back?")*

So this has been my life for the last week. The other day I pulled the trigger and asked Ding-a-ling (I'm being generous) if I could buy his 7th generation iPad with case, keyboard, and lots of extra storage for $300. He was asking $325

Ding-a-ling:  No. 

I wanted TO BE DONE. So, I said OK. $325 it is. I wondered if I could pick it up on my way back from picking up another item way up north. 

Ding-a-ling:  No, I won't be back in town till this weekend. 

Me:  OK, can we just agree to meet this weekend then? I'd like to check this off my list.

What the hell is wrong with this dude? Yes, his name is Kee. Ding-a-ling is an upgrade. If anyone out there knows Kee in person, make sure you tell him that he is a clueless jack ass. 

I'm not asking for a reservation. I'm asking to buy it - pick up when you are back in town. NOT. COMPLICATED.

I hope he NEVER SELLS THIS. I mentioned my knee jokingly in a Christmas poem and I got jinxed. So KEE (if that is your REAL name), I hope your weirdness and your cluelessness on selling your stuff jinxes your dumb ass and you stare at your stupid iPad forever and wonder why you didn't sell it to me when you had the chance AT THE PRICE YOU WANTED. 

Not bitter though. I only spent another umpteen hours trolling the internet for ANOTHER option and offered to buy one from a lovely woman for $225 (minus the keyboard and lots of storage). We plan to exchange money, iPad this weekend.

*In the interim, I did send messages to people whose prices were the same as new products on Amazon saying: I CAN BUY THIS ON AMAZON FOR THIS PRICE. Because sometimes I like to rid the world of people who don't know diddly-squat. You're welcome, World.*  

The only bummer is that the woman I plan to buy from thought she had the original box and she then realized that she didn't. I still think I'm going to buy it, because I don't want to be a jerk. And Curly will be so delighted, she won't notice if it's in a box wrapped in tissue paper. 

Do you vote I buy from the woman whose kid used the original box for a school project? Am I the only used-goods shopper out there? Is there a time-suck that you get caught up in when shopping: new or used? Comment challenge:  Read Reggie's mind (bottom right of family photo, not quite 2 yrs old).

December 9, 2020

a few of my favorite things (cue the Julie Andrews' singing voice)

Speaking of what gifts we need to purchase and who is hard to shop for, we were recently discussing this, right? Not yesterday. Yesterday was an unplanned post that's short (for me), in case you missed it. 

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things/gift ideas:

I love this website  I'm not getting money from this site, but I enjoy it and maybe you will too. I googled a list of gift ideas for teenage boys and Redbubble popped up. The stickers are apparently cool to put on Hydroflask water bottles, or other water bottles (I imagine). 

I went a tad overboard. I think I bought around 70 of them. 

In my family and Coach's, we only buy for godchildren. On my side, we buy for our parents but otherwise the adults don't technically buy for each other anymore. By technically, I mean that my  sisters were ticked a few years ago when I suggested we stop buying gifts for each other (especially Ann), so my two sisters now exchange fabulous gifts with each other on Christmas while the 'Grinchs' of the family sit by and admire them. 

Have I mentioned my family is odd?

Anywho, since we aren't getting together this year I decided that I'd pick out a few of these stickers for family members, and college roomates, and other my friend in Texas who used to play for the Bears. The stickers don't cost much and they are funny, so why not? Note:  it wasn't my intention to buy a butt-load of stickers for family members (adults and kids) but I found it impossible to scroll through the options without getting excited about stickers that I KNOW family members would enjoy. If they don't use them, no big deal - it is the $1.25 thought that counts.

For example, my brothers are huge Star Wars fans. They dress up in costume and go to see the movies at midnight on opening night and stuff. Yes, they're 'those' guys. How could I pass up a sticker like: 

(image from the Redbubble website)

 Get it? (Sith is Star Wars lingo, in case you are more of a Star Trek type). 

I get inspired when I see stuff as I'm shopping - something I usually do in person, but I had so much fun browsing these that it felt like REAL shopping. Oh, the decisions. I plan to send little stacks of them off to my siblings and their families as an unexpected treat. My sister, Marie, was a huge Rob Lowe fan as a teen. She's getting a Rob Lowe sticker- it's a photo of him from his early years. 

I might label the package:  DO NOT OPEN UNTIL WE ARE ON ZOOM TOGETHER, because I want to see their reactions for some of them.

I bought my kids stickers for their existing water bottles, or their dorm room fridge, or whatever. I selected a variety:  HGTV, The Office, Irish Dancing, college teams, favorite sports, etc. I didn't want to leave out 'don't-buy-me-anything' Coach, so I got him a large glass of Guinness (in a sticker, not the actual drink. The drink would be his preference).

A few of my kids need new water bottles, so I bought them new water bottles that are more affordable than the Hydroflask brand. I cannot say whether or not these water bottles are as good as the reviewer claims that were, but here is the link on Amazon in case you want to give them a try.  

**I just realized that the ones I ordered are plastic, and I MEANT TO ORDER THE INSULATED ONES IN THE LINK I SHARED. Now, I plan to reorder them and return these. Dang, I hate it when I suck.**

My personal favorite thing for my hair is Botanical Boost. If you know someone with wavy or curly hair, this product is the bomb. I spritz my hair with it and give it new life. Well, as much life as my thin, listless mop can get. I love the tiny bottle for traveling (dare to dream) and to just keep on hand in my purse, but they don't always have the tiny version available. You can also get it at Ulta. 

Because I'm me, that is where my beauty tips end. I hear MAC cosmetics is a must-have though. (see what I did there? Those of you who read the recent Irish dancing saga are appreciating that jab at myself, I assume).

Not exactly earth shattering ideas, but if you want to buy something fun for people you don't even normally shop for - I think these stickers will make people chuckle. 

Your favorite little gift ideas?

Oh, and I almost forgot - the point of the exercise (yes, I spelled that wrong, thanks spell check) . . . a gift I bought today for Coach. It's a narrow, small filing cabinet that I am thinking will fit next to his recliner. Translation:  it's a gift that keeps on giving (to me). Coach stacks all of his PT journals and legal case files (because he is a professional witness) on either side of his chair. No. More. Excuses. *He always says he doesn't want anything. Making it work for ME.