February 24, 2021

tennis, pool side chats, and bathing suit stories

As I was drafting a post about my kids' sports happenings, I decided to back up the bus to the fall and share a tennis story. My reasoning will make sense eventually.

The mom of the twins that I sit for teaches math at our high school. Calling twin's mom TM for short. In case you were wondering, she hears from other teachers  when Tank incorporates one of the twins on his math Zoom calls.

One day in the fall Mini and I were telling TM about how a girl named Mandy was on the tennis team this year. She's AMAZING at tennis. Mandy, a state ranked tennis player, hadn't played for the high school team until this, her junior year. She was the only player not required to stick around during a match and cheer for teammates when her set ended. I assume she had private lessons, etc. and that her schedule with homework is busy because of her high tennis ranking. 

Of course the high school WANTED her to play for them, because they want to WIN. I assume the coaches made a deal: it was OK for her to play on the team, and unlike everyone else, be allowed to leave the minute she was done. Oh, and she wasn't required to attend practice. Just when she could make it.

Oh, well. Honestly I was like whatever. It is fun to win sometimes. 

It just so happens that Mandy thinks she is ALL that. And more. If asked, she would rank HERSELF highly from a non-sports perspective. 

Mini said it was awkward when Mandy showed up to tennis. Mandy doesn't have friends on the team. Well, her friends are limited since she only deems a certain group worthy. For Mandy, chatting doesn't come natural with commoners like Mini. When necessary though, she conversed with Mini and company, because she had no one else to talk to. Friendly Mini was OK with it, but she did note that Mandy would never talk to her in the school hallways, etc.

The crazy thing  . . .  when Mini was in 3rd or 4th grade, she was summertime best buddies with Mandy. I know, weird. 

Mandy's family belonged to the same pool that we belonged to. Her mom and I sat and talked while our kids splashed around. It was delightful. Our kids attended different grade schools, but we knew they'd be reunited in high school.

As a grown-ass-woman, I knew that Mandy's mom would never have chatted with me if we'd been in high school together. She was as cool as they come. The fun thing is though, we weren't in high school (um, she grew up in the south, so you get that we were never in high school together, besides I think she's older than me . . . that felt better than it should've) and when you aren't in high school anymore all you need is a good sense of humor and a willingness to laugh at yourself. If you need more than that, I'm screwed. So far it's been working for me. I'm sure Mandy's mom knew me for the role I could fulfill:  the goofy chick with the funny stories. Bingo. We got along great.

Oh, here's a Mandy's mom moment that will help put this in perspective. 

I bought a new bathing suit. It came with a cover up that showed one arm. I would model it for you all now, but I'm too pale, maybe after I return from Arizona. Anyway, she almost flipped over her lounge chair laughing when I described my shopping process. I tried on a suit and I couldn't quite figure it out. There were legs openings where I thought the arms should be. It was all kinds of twisted and once I got it on, I swear to you I almost couldn't get it off. How embarrassing . . . Um, I'll take this one, and I'll just wear it home.  I decided if I was struggling that much to put the suit on, then I didn't deserve to own it. I showed her the one I selected, and the coordinating cool coverup.

Mandy's mom:  OH, THAT COVER UP. YOU'LL WEAR THAT WITH A PAIR OF WHITE SKINNY JEANS. (said in a southern accent to make me feel that much more like a schlep).

I got her meaning with the skinny white jeans, but I knew that wasn't my 'look'. 


I'm sure you all appreciate how long it took me to find a photo of me wearing this bathing suit, circa 2013. The cover up was the same, but it hung over one shoulder. I'm in the orange/brown stripes. 

Present day:  Mandy and Mini's cute little buddy relationship went down the drain like discarded pool water after Mandy's family dropped their pool membership the next year. 

While looking for a pic,
 I came across this . . .
Curly in her
Lands End bathing suit.
Mine wasn't this cute.
TM was surprised to learn that Mini and Mandy had once been friends. She observes the social hierarchy in the school halls (or at least she DID when kids were IN the hallways). She told me that she had a hard time knowing who Mini was friends with because she seems to be friendly with all the girls. 

A gut busting pool story to follow. The laughing might count as an ab exercise, so adjust your workouts accordingly my friends. 

Anyone else almost strangle themselves trying on a bathing suit? That reminds me, I once wore a suit from Lands End with a built in skirt. (might be time to repost my first ever bikini wax story and then this will make more sense). It was navy and drab and it got too heavy when wet, making the skirt hang too low. Mary Ann belonged to my pool (this was before we were neighbors) and her MIL came with her one day and raved about my suit. Wanted to get one for herself. After she left, I looked at the other moms with a realization:  WHEN A GRANDMA RAVES ABOUT YOUR SUIT, YOU'RE WEARING AN AWFUL SUIT. (Well, dang it -now this post is longer than I intended, but the last bit was worth it, right?)

February 22, 2021

Hawaii 5-Oh, how wonderful?

As anticipated, Lad fell off the good-behavior wagon a week after he got home. Shucks. Really, we knew it was coming. His bad-behavior isn't really awful, so there's that. It seems that stress makes him spiral. We're his punching bags, so yeah . . . taken some direct hits. Again, I can't stress enough that the current climate is nothing compared to what we endured over the summer. 

He got a new general manager at his dealership. A micromanaging type. Lad really liked the last guy, so the change irritated him.

He came home and described how the GM was trying to help him close a deal. Constantly asking him if he wanted help. 


Me:  SO DID YOU TELL HIM, WELL I TOLD MY CUSTOMER BUY THE FUCKING CAR YOU ASS WIPE. Was that the kind of language he was looking for?

One day Lad was leaving for work and he opened his mail and realized that a red light camera ticket doubled from $100 to $200. He was distraught. As he left the house he told me that he wouldn't do any of the testing (that we made him agree to complete) until Coach and I paid his unpaid toll bill (separate from the red light bill). 

Well, that wasn't our arrangement and I asked Lad to try to take some responsibility for the fact that he'd not paid a toll in 5 months. And, ya know - he has a long ass commute.

So, it went like that - him not coming home for 3 days, demanding things, breaking our agreement, insisting we give him his grandparents address so he could stay at their empty place since it is closer to work (that was part of our arrangement - YO, GET YOUR EVAL DONE AND YOU CAN STAY AT THEIR PLACE WHEN IT WORKS FOR YOU). Manipulating us. Or trying to. We didn't cave. 

What I did do, was call the ipass people to ask about Lad's bill. Like how much does he actually owe? 

Might I suggest, if you're ever in the mood for a frustrating conversation, call ipass. I'm pretty sure that's what they're there for. I can get you their number. You can tell them that Lad's grouchy-ass mother sent you, the one they spoke in circles with. 

The bills they send don't add up what is owed from prior months. Have you ever? So, Lad is confused. I mean, I'm confused too and I share the same reality as the general public. Can't say that for Lad, so how ideal was it for him to get a bill with a number on it - that had NOTHING to do with how much he really owed? A.prefect.storm.

I found out, please sit down if you have a heart issue, that Lad owes - seriously this might be shocking to your system . . . $3,409.  Well, that was last week - it's at least a few hundred bucks higher by now. Unfamiliar? If you don't pay within 14 days, then the rate goes up. 

Unthinkable. (not the 14 days part).

Totally not what I'm here to talk about, dang it - but it's the punch line to this here post, so let's roll forward and gloss over this horrid fact that just goes to show that our guy is not behaving in an accountable way. 

In case you are wondering, Coach and I are standing firm. It isn't always pleasant, but we are trying to deal with the unpleasantness while sticking to our guns. Even if Lad gets the testing done, no guarantee that he'll be receptive to the help he might need. *sigh*

Anyway, Coach forwarded me an email last week from the PT place he teaches classes for. He used to teach in person (remember when we went to Dallas, North Carolina, and Arizona, ah - the life), and now he's teaching from zoom one night a week. Not as much fun, because I'm not laying in the sun while he's teaching. 


I meant to start this post with GREETINGS FROM THE TUNDRA. Seriously, the SNOW and the COLD. Well, those two need to stop teaming up. We've had SO MUCH SNOW. 

Is it me, or does he look like Olaf?
I made this snowman with the tots.
Over the next few weeks, he looked like this . . . 

I seem to have dropped my glasses.

There are several inches on top of this.

Snow days seem to have died an untimely death here, because now kids can e-learn. Too much snow? That's OK, you can skip school - just hop on your laptop at home

What's the point of being a kid if you can't look forward to a snow day now and then? 

Oh, the email Coach forwarded:  WE'RE LOOKING FOR FACULTY FOR OUR HAWAII LOCATION (or PT college or something) . . . 

Coach's forwarded the email message to me with:  WANNA MOVE?

My response:  HELL YES!

Well, I wouldn't really want to move NOW, when I finally got my kitchen hood installed and Mary Ann's husband just used his snow blower to clear our driveway (really, he's very nice, still -this was an unexpected gift. My kids who were outside trying to move THE ENDLESS SUPPLY OF snow were TICKLED). 

But, oh my gosh. Hawaii. I've never been, but I hear it's kinda nice. That would be a helluva way to mark my 50th year . . . thus the title. The kids caught wind and they were like YES! Mini in particular. I was like, YEAH, FUN - BUT NOT HAPPENING.

Coach is a partner in his business here and he'd love to teach full time but he can't really switch gears right now. 

You'd all come visit though, right?

I emailed Coach a perk I thought of:  HEY, IF WE MOVE MAYBE THE IPASS PEOPLE WON'T BE ABLE TO FIND US. 

Later, I also made the realization that Hawaii might be my only chance to escape Irish dancing. No Irish dancing and a constant tan? We might have to re-think this. 

February 17, 2021

more 'not one to complain, BUT . . . ' thoughts

(Drafted in October - why didn't I post it? No clue. I must've had more pressing things pop up. I've tried to update the lingo so the October references make sense. The living room stuff is from yesterday).


Kari recently posted lovely photos of her house. I looked around. Um, this is what we've got. A stationary bike in our formal living room. Not complaining at all - it's new-to-us and on wheels. We move it to the family room as needed. Such a lovely space:  piano, black and white photo collages of each baby decorate the walls.

Oh, as I pan the room . . . Mini's e-learning space also in this room.

Oh, and boxes and bins on the left from when we cleaned Mini's room - still undecided what we're doing with these. Welcome to our home.

Oh, and as I was leaving the room - on the edge of the piano near sweet photos IS AN EMPTY JUICEBOX. WHY.ON.EARTH? Just so you know I'm not making it up. 


I don’t even know if I have enough space to describe to you with enough foul language how much I detest group texts, or similar group messages. Dear Lord, I clearly have less of a command of the internet than most of the population, but


Is it me? Am I some kind of anarchist? A grumpy old woman? Wait, don’t answer that.

Example:  Curly’s dancing teacher moved classes back to zoom for a few weeks back in late October. No dancer had tested positive. A few dancers have family members who were exposed. I think it is a bit of a stretch, but I embrace the zoom component whole-heartily and am THRILLED not to haul ass up there for a few weeks. Also the teacher’s daughter who lives with her happened to be in labor when the message was sent moving class to zoom so I suspect the teacher might be happy to just teach from the comfort of her home for the next few weeks. 

Again, I’m fine with it. Curly’s disappointed because she was still waiting to see if the stars would align, so that the Midwest championships would take place over Thanksgiving in Indianapolis. It wasn't great timing to not be dancing in the studio, but that’s the reality.

Mary, the dancing teacher, sent out the ‘switching to zoom’ message on Facebook messenger. Every parent felt the need to respond. Why? WHY?

“Thanks for keeping us safe!”

“We appreciate you, Mary!”

“Thanks for the update!”

With every message my phone pinged and my blood boiled. People SHUT UP. Can’t we all just assume that everyone appreciates the teacher and that we all hope we stay safe? Am I the only one that does stuff in my waking hours and doesn’t want to get constant USELESS messages?

I had to laugh, because in addition to this string of messages Mary sent a text message. Covering all bases, I suppose. A class this Sunday was initially cancelled, but then Mary shared in the text that it would be done via zoom.

Every school has one ANNOYING mom. Our’s is Lulu. Lulu texted Mary the teacher back to correct her.


Mary: No, it’s going to be done on zoom.

That was the only message I enjoyed in the 25 messages. Sit down, Lulu - you bossy, psycho lady. I told Mini later that I am THIS close to sending a message like this:



The nice thing about remote learners is that I could go for a walk when the weather was cooperating and the babies/tots were napping. I'm trying not to become overly attached to this practice because eventually I'll not have built in helpers.

I walked in October when it was 75 and sunny out. So wonderful for October in Chicago to get this little nugget. I walked past a house in a different neighborhood  as I was at my farthest point. A few women, who I know, happened to be out getting mail, taking out a dog, etc. They called out to one another, crossed the street, and stood talking to one another while socially distant. It was SO pleasant, and unfortunately for our little corner of the world - so unheard of. 

Coach called me while I was walking to say he was taking the rest of the day off (a few hours early), since he had to work late that Friday anyway. He asked where I was, and I told him I was halfway through my walk. Just after I passed the chatting neighbors, I heard someone call my name. I turned around and there was Coach.

Apparently he'd called to see where I was on my 4.5 mile walk. Then he had Mini drop him off - seeing as we still had 3 other offspring home with the nappers.

I'd JUST decided to shake my fear that he was coming home early because he had some upsetting or disturbing or crushing news about Lad (who at the time I wrote this was no longer communicating with us. We were moving though our days concerned about him). Deciding that I would've heard emotion in his voice if something had happened, I literally brushed it off and kept on walking.

He and I finished the rest of my walk together, which was nice.

He said the 3 neighbor women looked confused when he came hustling along to meet me. Since they know us, they thought he just couldn’t keep up with me. As if I'd walk so fast to leave him in my dust intentionally. He and I laughed and I told him how quaint it looked to have people stand outside on a beautiful day and chat. He laughed, totally agreeing that this would NEVER happen in our weird-ass neighborhood.

February 15, 2021

growing 'em tall, entitlement screams for ice cream, and enter Landon

We took the kids to Dairy Queen for ice cream in September. It was their idea.  Who are we? Well, I will tell you who we used to NOT be, the caving type.  I sort of object to their approach to it, but Coach was like 'sure' and who am I to turn down a Reece's Blizzard?

When I refer to 'their approach' I am referring to the fact that they sort of whined about having to clean the house.  Um, it NEEDED it, and why the hell should I clean what's largely their messes?  Even just general dust and vacuuming - they live here, they're capable, QUIT YOUR DAMN COMPLAINING.  

I suppose they needed ice cream since all of our boxes of goodies were empty . . .  this is what I'm talking about.  Why can no one else BEND DOWN AND GRAB A BRAND NEW BOX FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE PANTRY & TOSS AWAY THE EMPTY BOXES?  You knew I had a back up supply of food, didn't you?

There were lists, upon lists. Initials next to items. Assignments. Check-marks. All of it. And at the end, ice cream.

Anyway, at DQ I stayed in the car and let them order for me. I was finishing reading something on my phone for a writing group.

My window was cracked and I heard this other family come out of DQ and get in their car.  

Guy:  That was a tall family.

Other family person:  Yeah it was!

Me:  (to myself) Ha! Eddie, our tallest, is not even here and they didn't even see me (it's true I'm shrinking, but I'm still on the tall side). Lad was not there and he's over 6 feet.

When I joined my people on the sidewalk, I told them about the guy's observation.  They agreed:  the guy wasn't wrong.  

My kids all arrived kicking and screaming and being BIG. Tank, my largest at 10 lbs 3 oz, was induced 3 days before my due date. 

When I had Tank, I was put in a tiny 'waiting' type room. The nurses thought my delivery would take a while because induction. Well, Tank had other plans. The room didn't come equipped with a TV and the nurses had to borrow a boom box so I could play my music. Coach and the doc had to do a little do-si-do at the end of the bed in order to switch places as Coach moved to the other side of the bed. 

Our biggest kid arrived in the smallest room.

Speaking of babies . . . Coach got to meet his employee Jennifer's new baby, Landon, just before Christmas. She was due  around Aug 13th. We went to Michigan the weekend before. For weeks before our trip, Coach: "I hope Jennifer doesn't go early."  

Guess what?

Landon arrived 3 weeks early.  

In. her. car. on. the. way. to. the. hospital. 

Coach:  (he has worked with Jennifer for years and when she stopped by the clinic to show off her little nugget Coach asked for details . . . if she was comfortable) Do you mind if I ask you to share the car story?  What HAPPENED?  

Jennifer:  Well, I had contractions but assumed they'd stop because it was so early.  I called my midwife after a while and she told me to get in a warm bath. Hubby called the midwife a little later to say that he could see the baby's head.  She told us to either call 911 and wait for the ambulance or start driving to the hospital.  

The hospital- 30 minutes away. She told Coach that she felt it was silly to try to put on a pair of pants, so she put on a robe and grabbed a towel and draped it beneath her - um, sumo-wrestler style.

Hubby drove. She was on all fours in the backseat. 10 or 15 minutes away from the hospital the baby just came out in her hand.  After a minute she realized she could look to see what the gender was, still on all fours.  

Rather than go the gender reveal route, they did the let's-be-surprised-and-see-our-baby's-gender-in-our-car route. Less of a crowd, but still dang exciting.

She called to Hubby, "Do you want to see him?" His stress level was too high to rubberneck and take a peek at his son, who was, um,  riding without a carseat.

She said Landon's face was a little puffy as a side effect of still being attached to the umbilical cord or something. Perfectly healthy though, thank God.  

Tank's small room delivery sure as hell sounds boring now, right?

Doubting anyone knows a good baby-born-in-the-car story, so let's go with what's your favorite DQ blizzard flavor?  Or, do you bribe your kids to clean the house?  Money?  Ice cream? Or do you pay someone else to do it? If so, do you clean up before your hired cleaning service arrives?

February 10, 2021

I'm NOT one to complain, BUT . . .

If you're interested in where the "I'm not one to complain, BUT" lingo came from . . . check out this post. If not, carry on. These are the things lately that are making me nuts, and they aren’t necessarily related to the pandemic.


When the hand soap in the little dispenser runs low, Coach will add a few centimeters of water to the dispenser as if that has now extended the life of the soap. He gets this habit from his mother. No comment.

I come along and decide to wash my hands (so this SEEMS related to the pandemic because we are all very focused on hand-washing, but I was washing my hands long before it was a crime not to - as I know we all were, my point - Coach has been doing this for a long time). 

I've been correcting him forever, but he's often not in close enough proximity (at work) to hear me holler about it, so I fear my frustrations are not always heard. Trust me though, I know we have conversed about it. Still he persists. He and I have things to discuss at times that are very pressing and we embody the ‘two ships passing in the night’ scenario that makes it hard to remember to discuss soap dispensers. 

When a small puddle of water shot out at me from the dispenser in the bathroom a few weeks ago I LET HIM KNOW THAT HIS PRACTICE OF ‘JUST ADD WATER’ IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. This is not pancake mix.

This man is a biology major. How can he be confused to think that a bit of water extends the life of a drop of soap? He tried to defend himself, but I made it clear that this practice was not amusing and as far as I'm concerned - not to happen again.

I KNOW that I have a photo of several of these large soap refill containers. I bought them a while ago and they were CRAZY over-priced, unless I bought a butt-load of them. I can't find the photo and didn't have the energy to drag them out of various bathroom cabinets to pose for a photo. I tried several google photo searches including 'big jugs.' Well that almost ended badly, but apparently no one in my photos registers as having big jugs so strange photo collection avoided.


I am the main user of the desktop. I also have a laptop. I have been keeping the laptop on the kitchen counter. The kids occasionally use the desktop and they usually ask me if they can use my laptop, maybe for something quick while in the kitchen. As of this writing (Oct. 9th), they are all still remote learners which means our house continues to be a busy place full of ‘where’s my chargers’ and ‘can’t you keep those babies quiet’ and ‘is there going to be a baby napping in my bedroom later?’

My kids and Coach make fun of me for keeping a good 70 tabs open at once. I like all my stuff open at the same time, and because I suck at technology I also keep things open out of fear that I might not be able to find them again. I have absolutely no idea how to bookmark something, and if I did - how would I then find the bookmarks?

As you can see, it is not always easy to be me.

Occasionally I will sit down at my desktop and I will notice that a kid has done something: checked email, shopped for shorts that would fit a size 14 girl (that one was a dead giveaway), etc. When I click out of their window, I often discover to my shock and horror that ALL OF MY TABS HAVE BEEN CLOSED.

If a kid is around, they can sometimes recover them, but not always.

A few weeks ago, I opened my laptop to find the following search:  ‘Girl names that start with D.’ That would not have bothered me in the least, BUT all of my tabs were closed. I could not retrieve them.

The girls sheepishly admitted that while they were attempting to name their future offspring, Mini challenged Curly to come up with a girl’s name starting with ‘D’. This non-earth shattering search had me floundering to figure out how to re-open the tabs I use. I was super nervous, for instance, that I would not be able to figure out how to get back into Blackboard for the class I was taking at the time. 

Anyone want to be a wise-ass and suggest that maybe an aging-before-her-time person should not be taking an online class if she may or may not be comfortable getting onto the class’ platform?

Let’s just say that my children now seem to understand that searching for pictures of puppies and funny videos should never be done on one of my devices.

Well, I didn't get very far on my gripe list. There are more things on my NOT ONE TO COMPLAIN, BUT . . . list, but seeing as I sometimes get wordy, I'll save the others for next time.

Anyone have a family member 'add water' to soap? Close out your tabs? Or otherwise drive you batty?

If you're looking for something to complain about (or celebrate, depending), I'm planning on limiting myself to 2 posts a week . . . for now. Lots going on in Shenanigan-ville. On weeks when I gotta share, well - then additional posts will pop up. This is me, living on the edge.

February 8, 2021

the history of a family quote, and it's a small world

When we went to Michigan in August, Lad opted not to come. He caddied while we were gone for a man, Jack, who offered him a job at one of his many car dealership (but didn't mention which location).

Because it’s a small world and nothing is ever simple, I used to babysit for Jack’s kids. I started  when I was expecting Lad and putting Coach through PT school. As a teen I'd sat for Jack’s brother Dave’s kids. Over the summer, Ed had an accounting internship at one of Dave’s dealerships. Should I draw a family tree here?

Anyway, it turned out that Lad’s new job was in a far north suburb, over 40 miles from our house. We didn’t tell him that he couldn’t take the job but we sort of assumed/hoped he wouldn’t. Remember, we walked on eggshells with Lad all summer.

We'd hoped that Lad would complete a neuropsych evaluation and get the medical help that he clearly needs BEFORE HE STARTED A NON-CADDY JOB. He had a head CT. Never followed up: bloodwork, results, etc. Long story, but we urged him to get the test pointing to his occasional headaches since his last concussion 18 mos ago (this is a snippet of a different story, that I shared a while back).

He started working at the dealership that, it turned out, is owned by Jack’s oldest daughter - one that I used to sit for. She remembers infant Lad coming to her house with me when she was 12. If he wanted to give car sales a try, we were supportive. We wondered how long he'd stick with it. I braced for the fact that he'd be working for someone who I consider a 'family friend' and hoped it wouldn't end badly.

When the drive was annoying or something inconvenient happened, Lad insisted that we pressured him to take the job. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He creates his own reality.

SO THE CRAZY PART . . . just before he started the job I asked him where in the town the dealership was located. The town ‘Justiceville’ is ironically the same town where Coach and I met. I moved into a house down the street from Coach, ‘the boy next door’, the day before my first day of freshman year of high school started. My younger brother, Pat, was in Coach’s 8th grade class and they became good friends.

You didn't know you'd be getting a history lesson today, did you?

I took this photo of my old house back in
September when Coach and I had to go up to Justiceville for something.

It was 1985 and not a great time to buy/sell a house. My folks were devastated because they'd built the house that they now had to sell. They'd thought that they live in it forever. We were all sad. The house that we moved into (above photo) was a downgrade.

Our new house, in Coach’s neighborhood, backed up to a car dealership. Justiceville is known for the plethora of dealerships.

This dealership had just been built. At the end of our yard there was a berm, which took the shape of a substantial hill - great for sledding. The dealership was planting evergreens along the berm to give the houses privacy. There were meetings about rules: lighting, volume of loud speakers, etc. Mom attended all meetings.

One day she was lying on the couch in the family room watching TV. It was warm. Windows open. Mom shot up to attention like someone had just pinched her.

She called the dealership. We listened. It went like this:

 Yes, this is Patrica McIrish. I need to speak to the manager. Yes, well they just paged me. I am sitting in my family room and I heard over your loudspeakers MRS. MCIRISH PLEASE CALL 123-4567. So I'm calling. Ya know,

I’m not one to complain BUT, you ARE NOT supposed to have the speakers up that loud. You're testing me. See, I CAN hear every announcement you make. I’ve attended every single town meeting about the rules and we just moved into this house, and YOU need to turn your speakers down.

This, my friends, is the day the loud speakers at the dealership were heard ‘round the world’ - or more accurately ‘in our family room’. Mom’s pledge that she was not one to complain BUT . . . became one of our most quoted family sayings.

From that date if ever someone in my family of origin complained about something, they prefaced it with that catchy little phrase. 

So, that day when Lad gave me the address for his new job I punched it into google maps, and a moment later I shot up off of the couch

Me:  Coach, it’s the dealership behind my old house! (In our old stomping ground where Coach courted me)

The significance of this was completely lost on our offspring. I lived in that house through high school, college, and a few years after college until I bought my condo. Lad's job is at the same dealership (now different owners) that once paged Mom to test her claims of too-loud-speakers. That dang town is riddled with dealerships, what were the chances he was going to work in my old backyard? 

I had to share that story with you because as we roll forward on this blog I will now begin each ‘complaining post’ with the infamous and totally appropriate quote from Mom:

I’M NOT ONE TO COMPLAIN, BUT (big emphasis on but, as it should be) . . 

Yes, a post in which I share things that get under my skin will follow this. Get excited.

February 5, 2021

nervous nelly budded into a landscaper who's always working, plus wiseass specialist

As a kid, Tank was a nervous nelly. He claimed to be interested in Irish dancing but he cried at the first class. Same with sports. He wanted to be signed up but trying new things made him wig out.

Imagine my surprise when he was 11 and I left the house for a run while he was mowing our lawn. When I came back he was mowing the lawn across the street on the corner. A lovely couple, hard to believe - but yes they do live in our neighborhood. They're a little older than us. Tank waved and shrugged his shoulders while motioning around the yard like a young Bob Barker:  'All this and so much more can be yours . . .'

Inside I asked around if anyone knew if Mr. Drummond had asked Tank to mow. No one knew a thing about it. Later the Drummonds filled us in. Tank rang their bell and handed them a paper with a million misspellings.

His offer: he'd mow their lawn. If they liked it he instructed them to circle $5, if they didn't think he did a good job - they circled 'not good' and his service was free. They told him to go for it and they insisted on paying him $20. He behaved as if he'd won the lottery.

They referred him to a couple in the culdesac. Tank gave the woman his pitch. She said she wasn't sure. She had no money and her husband wasn't home. Tank left her his number and went home.

Later the woman called. Coach answered the extension in the basement. The woman said she decided that she DID want him to mow her lawn.

Tank: Well, I don't know. You just told me you don't have any money! (imagine Coach in the basement FREAKING out at how rude our kid sounded to a neighbor - one we didn't know, but STILL).

And so our little entrepreneur was born. The next summer as a 12 year old between caddying and mowing, he earned over $4,000.

Since then, Tank mowed lawns, planted bushes, did spring clean ups, handed out fliers, met people on places like Nextdoor, got referrals, trained siblings, took a portion of the siblings' pay for jobs they covered for him, got stitches when he stabbed himself with a landscaping knife, acquired another mower, got super excited when my folks gave him a blower for his 12th birthday, and has refined his people skills but not necessarily his spelling skills.

Next, he met a woman who runs her own commercial landscaping business and started working for her on the days he didn't caddy. He learns a lot there and has been given a few raises over time. During the lockdown, he helped her on days he didn't have to e-learn, following rules like wearing masks, driving in separate car, working outside, etc.

Somewhere along the line he started working for a family friend who works for his family's business. They make labels for things like engine parts. The guy's son is one of Ed's best friends. During covid when that place was closed, Tank agreed to take a project and complete it in our home. He had to attach grommets to something. It included punching 80 billion little holes into these red vinyl banners.

Guess what's fun? Finding over half of those 80 billion little red circle cutouts all over my flipping house since this little lockdown project. Tank worked in the basement, but failed to sweep up the scraps until I started to notice these odd little red circles all over the house. Then I ventured down into the basement. I WAS ASTOUNDED.

Doesn't look like much, but these little buggers
were harder than shit to pick up.

It appears that the vacuum gobbled the circles up, but
most of them needed to be picked up by hand.

You're here for the riveting photos, I know it.

We are friends with the guy (Ed's friend's dad) - and yes, I do send him photos occasionally of little red circles as I find them. 10 months later.

This summer, Tank planted a watermelon that his landscaping boss gave him. We are not planting people. I was surprised when he opted to grow his plant along our front walkway - near our front door. Anyway, it didn't grow all that big, but he enjoyed the experiment and we enjoyed getting the occasional photo of his budding watermelon and a message like: "I'd like to thank all the little people", etc.

Cute, but not likely to satisfy appetites in our family.

In the fall, Tank met a kid who runs his own landscaping gig. He attends our rival high school - Entitled High. He owns his own equipment, like big league stuff. The kinds of stuff Tank drools over, and that we cannot afford and even if we could - our garage is LOADED. Hard pass. Anyway, Tank reached out to him, and they met recently. The kid (also a senior) hired him to help out whenever Tank has time, etc.

In case I haven't summed it up properly, this kid is a shaker and a mover. He's going places. And when he isn't going places, he leaves his size 15 shoes in the middle of my kitchen floor.

When we met with a member of the business faculty at Creighton, I told them that Tank is geared towards sales. One point the man made was that they have awesome internships. A guy on staff goes out and comes back with amazing internships, you name it - he makes it happen. I told the professor that this guy sounds like Tank. A get-it-done kind of guy.

Tank turned around to look at me in the presentation room with his intentionally fake sincerity look because he is a comedian on the side: Hey, thanks.

Me: No problem.

Hopefully he'll get accepted based on this mother's ringing endorsement because his math skills aren't gonna have anybody tripping over little watermelon plants to get to him.

I intended to post this in December when Tank was turning 18, but then a dryer broke and doorways needed to be expanded and I was labeled as a gas appliance. I share it now, so you know a bit more about my senior in high school. He likes junk food, so gifts of junk food are welcome as he copes with his non-existent senior year.

Kidding, but I cannot imagine our home with him away at college next year.

February 3, 2021

"It that Lad's car?" . . . Nancy's fast work

(This is the continuation of a post for yesterday . . . an update on Laddie. Click here if you want to read that post that I snuck in on a rare Tuesday before you read this)

Monday of last week:  When I was looking for the cute 'BEARS TACK YOU' clip of Curly, I came across another clip. In our Yellowstone cabin, Curly has just gotten out of the bath. She's dancing around naked. The kids are chanting:  NA-KED DANCE. Their chant had a nice beat and was accompanied by clapping. Strange that we haven't made it a family tradition.

I will not post the video here because people trolling for 2 year olds dancing naked aren't really my desired reader. 

12 year old Lad turns on the video and announces:  LOOK MOMMY'S SMILING FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THIS TRIP. 

I lashed out:  REALLY LAD, I WONDER WHY? I'm implying here that dealing with Lad's nonsense on the long car ride, etc. has been the reason I've been grumpy. 

I already knew before running across this clip that I was short tempered with Lad when he was younger. This was not new info. Still. It killed me WATCHING it. I felt low all day. WHY? Why had I treated him like this? It was like I got stuck in a rut and couldn't get out of it. 

When Coach came home, I told him about the video. I felt miserable. He wilted. He has his own guilt about being at work too much - about not giving more time to a kid who needed more attention, but he pointed out that we did the best we could.

The next day he came home with flowers for me and a mini GF Bundt cake, which was nice and tasty but I still feel like I failed my kid. There are no do-overs. Not enough GF cake to cure this feeling. 

Note: no self control - ate half the cake
(I mean it is a MINI CAKE) before I took the photo. 

Reg told me that Laddie texted him to see if he wanted to shoot hoops at a local gym. 

Me:  Laddie who? (Lad's real name is fairly common)

Reg:  Um, my brother, Laddie. 

When Lad lived here this summer he tormented Reg. Hollered unwelcome b-ball critiques at him on the driveway. Reduced Reg, who is well versed in older brother crap, to tears. Despite our pleading, Lad was unable to stop. 

I wondered, what's Lad's motive? Is he going to get Reg to a court and embarrass him? I hoped not.

Sunday:  Thanks to mountains of snow, Coach insisted we drive to Curly's travel b-ball game crazy early anticipating bad roads. Reg came along to shoot around at an empty court. In the car Reg asked how he should respond to Lad.

Curly's games were far away and we passed Lad's new gym. We were nervous to have Lad drive Reg anywhere, let alone in the snow. Reg sent:  OMW TO CURLY'S GAMES. MOMMY AND DADDY CAN DROP ME OFF AT YOUR GYM AFTER.

Reg and Curly ran inside when we showed up grandma-style early so they could shoot around. I refused to sit in an uncomfortable bleacher while masked for an additional 30 minutes. My hair was still dripping wet from when I raced out of the shower to leave earlier than anticipated. I gave Coach the "hope you're happy because I'm thrilled to hang out in the car with wet hair for 30 minutes and read my book while I listen to you record video critiques in response to your students' crappy recorded evaluation assignments. This is fun" look. 

I have special powers and my 'look' often says a lot. 

Just before we were done drip drying/grumbling about students who don't follow instructions and were about to exit the car, Coach gasped:

Is that Lad's car?

It took a few minutes while Lad was bent over shuffling things around in his car before we decided it WAS him. Who else drives a Mercury? He must've texted Reg to ask where Curly was playing. We sat. Frozen. 

We got out slowly. No sudden movements. Coach went over to Lad's car and said we'd pay for him to get into the game. They hugged. Then Lad walked up to me. We hugged. Long and hard. I MISSED YOU, I whispered. I MISSED YOU, TOO, he whispered back. I got choked up. 

When we got inside, Lad found Reg and started chatting with him. Coach and I stood there and stared off into space. I finally turned to Coach.

Me:  What just happened? Like, he hugged me. I told him I missed him. He doesn't seem angry. (I sobbed quietly for a moment, not an ugly cry because hello, we were in public).

After Curly played, Lad took Reg to his gym. We told Lad he was welcome back to the house for dinner. He said MAYBE. He came for dinner. When I went upstairs to throw the sheets in the dryer, I ransacked my closet looking for the 'I'll give this small gift to him someday' Christmas gift water bottle and stickers I'd gotten Lad. My mind: what if he leaves before I get back downstairs? I had to take a deep breath and gather myself. 

Lad's water bottle with water polo stickers.

He loved the water bottle and stickers. We chatted during dinner like there wasn't an elephant in the room. Mini kept her nose buried in her school work before dinner refusing to come into the kitchen and say hello. I didn't blame her. I told her he was behaving. She could just say "hey, how's it going", as she told me I'M NOT A HUGGER. 

After dinner, kids went off to study. Lad sat in Coach's recliner and called to us:  DO YOU GUYS WANT TO TALK ABOUT STUFF?

What? Is this a dream? 

We talked. We cried. We apologized for missing things when he was a kid. He tried to brush that off saying it just made him stronger. 

A few things that came up:  a co-worker named Craig who is 48 years old had been talking to him. His advice was always:  GO HOME, YOUR FAMILY LOVES YOU. An angel on earth. Then, a piece of metal flew off a truck and hit Lad's car on the expressway a few days ago. He realized that if it had gone through his windshield, it would've killed him. *I've been praying to his guardian angel.* 

He texted Craig:  THAT'S IT. I'M GOING HOME.  

He tried to explain that there were things he needed to learn on his own. Things he needed to figure out. He no longer wants to lie. No longer wants to worry about appearances. He wants to rebuild sibling relationships. Wants Ed to be his best friend again. I gently pointed out Lad's refusal to own his behavior. He said it's something he's working on. 

We told him that we expect him to compete the neuropsych evaluation that he started over the summer. He tried to ask if we thought there was something wrong with him (clearly he doesn't), and I just said it makes sense to check things out. Plus, we already paid for the pricey MRI . . . it never hurts to take the frugal angle. We told him we'd like to be involved in the medical appointments so we can help him sort through any information. 

We told him to stay the night if he wanted. He agreed. With the snow and a headlight that he still needed to fix, he'd rather stay. Ed had just gone back to school on Saturday. I texted Ed who texted back TRYING NOT TO GET MY HOPES UP, BUT THIS MADE MY DAY.

I'm no dummy. I'm certain there is a  bumpy road ahead. Things to sort out. I don't expect smooth sailing, but like I told Lad, THIS WAS A HUGE STEP AND IT COULDN'T HAVE BEEN EASY.

Today, I texted people who've been praying for us. For Lad. Since you're not all in my contacts, consider this a message to you  - thanks for all of the support and prayers. Much appreciated. 

Coach's sister's mother-in-law, Nancy, passed away last week at 80 years old. At Nancy's funeral, I asked her to help us with Laddie. 

I texted my sister in law, NANCY WORKS FAST!

February 2, 2021

A Lad update & bonus: 'Take my car and shove it' rant

 I've often considered writing this post but I wasn't sure what to say, or how to start.

The day after my b-day I got a text from a woman (so tempted to say 'girl' here but she's a grown up) who I used to babysit for. I assumed it was a belated b-day wish. It wasn't.

Her ex-husband had killed himself the day after Christmas. They have 3 young children ages 5-7. Their marriage ended a few years ago, but they'd been handling parenting responsibilities together. They were committed to their children. She and I usually get together once a year. She brought the kids here for taco night in February '20. Then we got caught up during a 2 hour conversation over the summer while I chilled in my murky, but refreshing Raccoon-Infested spa. All seemed to be going fine. 

She texted that her ex suffered from depression. No one knew how bad. It was a shock. My heart breaks for them. 

I couldn't help it. My mind went to dark places. Where was Lad? What was he thinking? Did he feel alone? Would he ever agree to sit down and talk through things with us? 

Don't get me wrong. Lad isn't suicidal. As far as we know. That's the thing though, what do we know? What if he chose to make an impulsive decision because of whatever issues he is struggling with? He hasn't been diagnosed with anything, but we suspect Borderline Personality Disorder.

My mind couldn't relax and be assured that he was fine.

Backing up the bus:  We invited Lad for Thanksgiving, then for Curly's birthday, Dec. 19th. We told him he was welcome for Christmas. We suggested he stop by to see Coach's family (the less judgmental and more fun side) the day after Christmas. 

Always no. And by no, I mean there were scathing words. Accused us of barely attended his water polo games his senior year. This was a slap in the face - a reminder that his version of reality was far from ACTUAL reality. We attended most of his games that year.  

It was exhausting. 

Ed pointed out that if ever there was a Christmas to miss, this was it. There were no family gatherings when Lad's absence needed to be explained, except the one we hosted and Coach's sis and bro already knew that something was going on, but his other siblings are out of town as are his idiot parents. They know nothing. 

We plowed through the days and weeks and months. Lad texted Coach regularly demanding money that we 'owed' him. He wanted 'his' stimulus check, but he was still a dependent when we filed our taxes so he wasn't getting a check. We offered to help him with some financial stuff if he'd just come and sit down with us. 

He refused.  

A few weeks ago, the doorbell rang. Reg went to the door. He called out to me:  


I was holding a baby. My knees buckled. I tried to convince myself that it was going to be OK. Whatever it was, it would be OK. I held onto the wall in the front hall and tried to breathe as I made my way towards the door. 

Hi there. Your neighbors have complained that you guys park a car on the driveway that blocks the sidewalk. You can't block the sidewalk. 

I nodded. Said something with a mouth as dry as the Sahara. Motioned for Reg to close the door. I made it down the hall and back to the couch where I slumped and shook for several minutes. 

Late at night, Tank didn't bother to adhere to our new parking methods. More like Coach's new parking methods. I don't usually drive this car, but when I do I'm not all that careful with the damn sidewalk. Arrest me.

My legs were weak the rest of the night. I was mad. People with nothing to do in their miserable little lives have to call the police because they can't haul their asses around the front bumper of our kids' car when it's on the driveway? Of all the stupid things! I told Coach I was going to borrow Curly's sidewalk chalk and write "If you're the ass hole who called the cops, get a life." 

I was jealous. This is someone's biggest gripe. 

I get that blocking the sidewalk is against the rules. Don't get me wrong. Please don't point out to me how essential the sidewalk is. Loads of people walk in the street when they approach a crowded driveway (or just because they prefer the street) . . . there is not much traffic on my street AT ALL. 

A cop at my door. Bad timing. My mind jumped to conclusions. 

The kids aren't seasoned enough to park it at the VERY end of the driveway in an attempt to not block the sidewalk. This is Coach's handiwork. If I ever get the nerve to write my handiwork in a chalk message, I will share a photo of that. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote Lad a letter. Sent it to his work. The gist:  we miss him, we support him. I apologized for the mistakes I made as a parent. I wished I'd seen things more clearly. 

Lad learned to take my negative attention growing up and the more he pushed my buttons the more irritated with him I became. I'm not proud of this. It hurts my heart. All I ever wanted to do was be a mother, but I feel like in many ways I failed him. 

It was the perfect storm. Coach worked too much. Lad was picked on at school. He came home and picked on the little kids. I hollered at him and lost my patience. He always ended up with the crap teacher - while Ed ended up with the perfectly patient teacher who adored him. I could go on. 

This sums it up:  we drove Lad to college for his first year in New York. He was transferring as a sophomore. We stopped in Boston for a few days. Lad had been an ass all summer. Unbearable. Mini was his biggest target. Boston was miserable. He walked behind us. Refused to be in photos. Sneered at us. We dropped him off at his new dorm. 


I missed it. Again. I didn't get that he was wired different than my other kids. Kept things bottled up. Acted out instead of verbalizing stuff. 

On the day we assume he got my letter, he texted Coach. He just wanted us to know that he wasn't going to be opening any mail we sent to his work. We still believed he'd read it. 

It was long . . . are you surprised? (there's much more, but if I didn't divide it this post would be twice as long. Sorry to those of you who'd rather power through and read to the end. There is quite a development that happens in the next installment in case you fear more of the same. I'll post it tomorrow. Thanks for reading, I know this was long).