May 26, 2021

my kindergarten-like zoom behavoir

I joined a writing group about 2 years ago, so I know most of those who attend. Last night we had a zoom. It wasn't my turn to share. I listened and provided feedback. These writers blow me away with their talent. We all stay muted until it's our turn to critique. One time this woman kept hollering to someone in her kitchen asking them "HEY, what else you got to eat?" while unmuted and chewing loudly. This went on while some poor soul was TRYING to read his pages. Otherwise, we've been incident free. 

Until, I tried something new. 

Curly didn't want to get to dancing 30 minutes early so that I could be on time to my zoom. I said, HEY, I'LL JUST ZOOM FROM MY CAR WITH MY CAMERA OFF. I JUST NEED TO LISTEN. 

I was almost home. I had my phone in my lap and connected to the zoom at a stop light. I checked to see that my camera was off. Initially people were giving instructions to help an older gent named Lee share his screen. 

Just before Lee read, someone asked if they could hear that sound. "IT SOUNDS LIKE AN AQUARIUM. ANYONE ELSE HEAR THAT?" 


I looked down and realized my mic was on. The humming of my car was making everyone believe they were underwater in an aquarium. I muted myself, and they all said:  OH, IT WENT AWAY.

Then I unmuted myself and fessed up, never having zoomed from my phone while driving- I didn't realize I was unmuted. All was forgiven. 

When I got home, I tried to sign in from my desktop. The admin guy didn't see me in the waiting room. I decided to type something in the zoom's chat.

The zoom experience looks different from a phone. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. I touched a pen symbol on the screen. Thinking, that's how you start typing in the chat. Nothing seemed to happen, so I sort of swiped my fingers across the screen. 

Um. I was in drawing mode, apparently. Translation:  I drew red streaks across this guy's page AS HE WAS READING like I was an angry kindergartner and he was only letting me use the red crayon. The shame. 

He stopped reading, or in actuality I fear that my red scratches froze him momentarily . . . but I'm trying not to think about that. When he was unfrozen, he said with a chuckle:  LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE DOESN'T LIKE WHAT I WROTE. 

I gasped so loudly that even though I was muted they probably heard me. I didn't realize that THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE GROUP COULD SEE MY RED LINES. I THOUGHT IT WAS ONLY ON MY PHONE SCREEN. 

The red scribbles remained on the screen the
entire time he read and scrolled through his work.
So distracting.

I hit the erase button, but I think I would've had to swipe at the random stripes on the screen to erase it and I was too chicken-shit to embarrass myself further.

Lee is a good guy with a sense of humor. Thank goodness. When he was done reading, I held my hand up to be the first to praise his writing. First I cleared the air:  IT WAS ME THAT SCRIBBLED ON YOUR PAGE. I'M SO SORRY, LEE. I WAS TRYING TO USE THE CHAT BUTTON. THIS IS WHY I SHOULDN'T BE TRUSTED WITH TECHONOLGY. 

I will email him to apologize for my kindergartener tendencies. 

Mini snuck into the study towards the end of the video chat. She likes to listen to what people read and likes to know who's who. Larry's my favorites, not because he is over the moon about my writing. He's honest, direct, and well spoken. He'll be 85 Wednesday. So, she asked if Larry contributed anything, etc. 

There was a new guy, who was using a blackout screen so we couldn't see his background - I think that's what it's called. Anyway, it produced a weird shadowy effect. He looked dark and mysterious and parts of him disappeared when he moved as his screen sort of swallowed him or pixelated him. 

I kept my hand over my mouth whenever I explained something to Mini, who was off screen, so people wouldn't think I wasn't paying attention. I read all the submitted work in advance, so I wasn't missing anything. 

Mini: You don't have to whisper. You're muted. 

Me:  Yes, I know, but I live in fear of being unmuted and not realizing it.

Mini:  Really? Tell me about it, that sums up my entire school year pandemic experience. 

I hid my face from the group members, because I was dying laughing. Now I know a bit about what it means to be a teenager in 2021. I still don't get snapchat and sliding up and being left unopened. Baby steps. 

Anyone else still zooming? Getting the hang of zooming? Any major mistakes while unmuted?  Scribbled on anyone's page? 

*I plan to post again on Tuesday, since Monday is a holiday here. Enjoy your weekend whether it is long or not.

May 24, 2021

How my people drive me crazy: the Mini addition

When I was just a kid myself, I babysat for a gaggle of kids. I was crazy about them and their grandma: 'Mom-Mom'. When she visited she'd slip me a $50 bill (in the early 80's that was lots a cash, heck it's a lot of cash now) while I was mass producing PB&J sandwiches, and holler, "This is for you. You take such good care of my grandchildren." She wouldn't let me politely refuse it. 

When Mom-Mom met a new baby she'd say something and the words would kinda run together:  OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BABY . . . I MEAN, YOU LOVE 'EM ANYWAY - BUT SHE'S GORGEOUS

Something along those lines. 

As a teenager, I didn't quite catch the meaning because she sort of slurred "I mean you love 'em anyway", but when she said it to me after my babies were born as she was showering me with amazing gifts and over-the-top compliments about how beautiful my babies were I GOT IT. I was like, OH, THAT'S FUNNY. 

So I'm borrowing Mom-Mom's phrase here, tweaking it:  MY PEOPLE ARE DRIVING ME A TAD CRAZY, I MEAN - I LOVE 'EM ANYWAY . . .

The closet:  

Remember my "Mini's room is a mess" rant? Well, I took the bull by the horn, or in this case I took the clothing by the hangars a few days before Christmas (yes, a while ago). 

*Curly recently admitted when she folds laundry and isn't sure, she puts the item in my pile - knowing I will return it to Mini if it isn't mine. Mini, on the other hand, routinely says:  OH, IT'S BEEN IN MY CLOSET FOREVER. I THOUGHT IT WAS MINE. 

Oh, the things I found. 

One of my sports bras, she swore she didn't have. My white capri leggings (that I may have given her under the arrangement 'I'll borrow them back on occasion'), she swore she didn't have. My closet tossing was prompted by Curly claiming she had nothing to wear to church on Christmas. 


My digging expedition uncovered more than just my missing clothes. There were items that Curly could've been wearing but Mini never eliminates items or passes things over to her sister. Curly ended up with options - plural, for church. 

The girls tried to blame me for the state of their closet. The last time we 'did' their closet, I moved the dresses and long items to the side that only has one rod, the side with two rods I used to organize their shirts, etc. Non floor-length items. I believe Mini's direct quote was: YOU RUINED MY LIFE WHEN YOU SWITCHED OUR STUFF AROUND IN THE CLOSET.


Is it me?  

Leather mittens:  

Coach took the kids skiing in February. Remind me to tell you about my one and only skiing experience and you'll understand why I didn't go. Anyway, the next day I found my leather mittens that have little finger dividers inside the mittens . . . crumpled, wrinkled, and sad looking. I was so confused. 

They looked newer before
 their skiing adventure.

Me:  Did you wear my leather mittens skiing? 

Mini:  Oh, no. Um, they were in the car.

That made no sense. Teen talk for 'your stuff was within my reach when I forgot to bring my stuff, so I took that as an open invitation to use them'. Note that her initial reply was 'no' even though she did IN FACT use them. She didn't say 'DUH' but it was implied.

Handling the laundry:

I asked Mini to take clothes out of the dryer a few weeks ago. It was the QUICK-HANG-IT-UP-SO-IT-WON'T-WRINKLE kind of laundry. 

A few days later I noticed one of MY shirts was hung up in the laundry room. That's not the alarming part. The hangar was facing the wrong way. How, you ask? 

I take care of Mini's clothes and try not to dry things that might shrink, etc. When she handled my things, she used the hangar incorrectly. Like front to back vs side to side. Perhaps she thought I might grow an extra breast and would therefore need a bump in the front of my shirt.

Mini's 17. It appeared that she morphed into a careless 7 yr old.

Do you find that people/offspring/spouses do things kind of crappy so they don't get asked to help the next time?

The recipe book:

Complicating the age old
question:  what's for dinner?

I ordered myself a recipe book for Christmas. I asked the girls if they would put my recipes in said book as a Christmas/birthday gift for me. What.was.I.thinking?

Mini has very neat handwriting. She agreed to write out the recipes. 

Well, Mini sort of abandoned ship fairly early on. She failed to keep a decent system and I didn't know where she started and where she left off. For weeks when I needed a recipe, I had to dig through piles and stacks of recipes on the floor of the study. 

I finally typed them all into my google docs. Now they're saved and easy to share. It  didn't take long. Fortunately I'm familiar enough with my recipes that I've caught my own typos. 

Maybe Mini was not the one to work on a recipe book. Have we talked about her many missteps in the kitchen? She added 4 TB of cumin to the Cuban Sheet Pan Chicken Rice Bowls vs 4 tsp once. I noticed it before it was stirred, so I was able to scoop out the excess. 

I started this as a general topic, but broke it into categories by offenders. Get excited - the Tank version is yet to come. 

May 19, 2021

us vs nature, a losing battle?

We aren't trying to be a-holes towards our outdoor friends, but they've left us little choice when they fail to respect our personal space.

Several weeks ago one of the moms I sit for walked into the house to pick up her twins looking a little frazzled. She was kind of ducking and looking behind her as she entered from the garage.

Twin mom:  There's a bird in your garage.

The bird continued to hang out in our garage. Detective Tank figured out why. Ms. Bird had built a nest on top of the garage door opener for our single garage door.  Apparently Ms. Bird hadn't heard the real estate catch phrase:  LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

We weren't really interested in having a bird get all territorial about her nest in our garage. Our garage is a side-load deal. We're on the corner, so the driveway sticks out of the side of the house. We rarely use the front door. I had visions of Ms. Bird dive-bombing folks as they came to collect their wee ones from me. 

Admittedly, we may have given the wrong impression to our feathery friends. Our garage door is left up A TON. I leave it up for a few hours at baby-drop-off time, then I leave it up at baby-pick-up for a few hours and my kids aren't great at putting it down when they leave if someone else is home. Not all cars (looking at Lad here) are equipped with a garage door opener.

Coach thought that spraying the nest was the appropriate next step. I think this was what Google instructed him to do. Anyone else feel like it's difficult to make a move sometimes without Google's go-ahead? He used Windex. Remember in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when the dad used Windex on everything? Well, maybe that concept is catching on. 

Ms. Bird was undeterred by the Windex. Perhaps she was like, THANKS, THE NEST IS SO MUCH CLEANER NOW. Note:  there were no eggs in the nest yet. She was just in that prepping stage that humans refer to as nesting. Coincidentally. 

Coach's next move surprised us all. I think it surprised him too. He put a tennis ball in the nest. Not sure of the mindset here. Maybe he thought Ms. Bird would think a squatter had borrowed her nest and laid a neon colored ball-shaped egg in it. At any rate, it worked. She has not been back. (typing PUT A TENNIS BALL IN THE NEST made me start to hum that song and I use the term 'song' loosely here:  Boogie in the Butt, by Eddie Murphy . . . specifically the 'put a tree in your butt' line. No explanation, my mind is wacky). 

I'm being lazy - I could make a tall son
take a better picture, but this is all I've got.
 Hard to see, but there is a tennis
ball in the now abandoned nest.

Before our garage almost became a labor and delivery room, we discovered a critter one day. He was a chipmunk, and he was maimed. At first we thought maybe he was just dazed and confused. We gave him some time in case he 'd just wacked his head on something and needed a minute. It happens. I've seen birds hit the window hard and after a few minutes of looking like a goner, they've hopped up and flown away. He really couldn't get his bearings though. 

A few weeks prior, Coach saw a mouse, better him than me, in the garage (totally common, unfortunately) and set traps. I wonder if this maimed guy had a run-in with a trap. No idea, but one leg or maybe his one side wasn't functioning properly. His walk-it-off approach was leaving him walking in circles and between circles he was very still in a heap, labored breathing.  

Once we'd lost hope that he'd recover, Tank scooped him up onto a shovel and took him out to greener pastures  . . . also known as our yard, where he put him out of his misery. The video below is just Tank scooping him on a shovel.

This task Tank handled without a second thought. He seemed more upset about Coach's home-wrecking role in the whole ball-in-a-nest ordeal. He said at one point, "Wow, I thought we were Catholic."

All I can say is that I hope those mice were watching the Chipmunk's last moments, so they know we mean business. 

Anyone else have a bird nest appear somewhere weird? Please note:  I have yet to drag out my blow up pool, but you know once I do all kinds of woodland friends will show up with their sunglasses and tiny folding beach chairs. Here's the link to the post I'm referring to.

May 17, 2021

more sore than expected & not connecting the dots

I started running again on a Sunday last month. I'm a late-to-the-party runner to begin with. As if running is a party. For years and years my long 4.4 mile walk counted as my workout. I'm not saying it was insignificant, but these days I've ramped things up. 

After visiting childhood family friends in Colorado in 2010, I tried running. If Mr. B, who was 80, was running, why couldn't I? Um, I thought I might die. I stuck with it though and eventually got to the point where I ran my entire 4.4 route. It wasn't pretty, but I was running that route almost every day. 

Eventually I couldn't run anymore. It hurt my sciatica among other things. My slow, cringe-worthy run might've hurt innocent bystanders visually, the awful eyesore that it was. No one ever asked me if I needed help - even though I'm sure they wondered it. 

When I quit running, I started doing more strength and cardio classes in combination with my walking route. I felt I was covering all the bases.

I decided to give running another go. Not 'go' as in fast, smooth, and graceful. 'Go' as in, running (using the term loosely) a 10:13 minute mile. (I walk a mile in 13.5 minutes). My kids swear I'm faster at walking than running, but Nike Run Club app on my phone doesn't lie. 

Guess what? I ran two miles on Sunday and walked the rest of my route. I hope to work my way up to being able to run the whole thing. Sciatica be damned. 

The next day, I was blown away by how sore I was. How could this be? I do jumping lunges, burpees, plank jacks, knee drives, and everything in between. I was shocked that there were some muscle groups that had been taking a break and not engaging, apparently celebrating for the last few years:  NO MORE RUNNING. HOORAY. LET'S RELAX.

One day later that week, my kids were scheduled to be in person learning. I expected to be here alone with my charges. In the morning, I saw a text from Mini saying she was having a hard time sleeping. She didn't want to be woken up for school. She'd sleep till 8 and e-learn at home. A good option to have. 

I did my FB workout before the tots got dropped off. Took a quick shower. Then I started thinking. Since Mini is home, I COULD put the three morning nappers down for a nap and leave Mini with the two year olds . I could run 2 miles in 20 minutes. 

Mini was on board. I got ready  - excited to make those same muscles work again so they didn't have time to go back in relax mode. 

As I was leaving, I got a text from a guy who was coming to measure for blinds/shades in a couple of rooms. He'd arrive in an hour. I was so confused. I thought he was coming on Wednesday. The state of my house. I can't even. 

I knew without even looking that I'd have to create a walking path in Tank and Reg's room. But I wanted to run - my muscles may not have bounced back but my need-to-run was already kicking in. "I'll have time to make the house almost presentable after my run." Priorities. 

I grabbed workout clothes from my room and left my real clothes in the upstairs hall so I wouldn't interrupt the twins nap when I changed before Mr. Blinds arrived.

I'm not sure what was more exhausting the run or my dash through the house picking up clothes, books, shoes, and dishes from the stairs, the front hall, the upstairs hall, every surface in the kitchen and dear God Tank and Reg's room. I stripped off my sweaty clothes, wiped off my sweat and got re-dressed, messed with my hair and the doorbell rang. 

These are not photos from that day. I was too busy to take pics.

These are stock photos:  as in, photos that I stock. I'm never low on shots of messy rooms. This is NOT the boy room that I needed to clear a path in, but it's the same concept.

It wasn't until a few hours later that I realized that the reason the guy was here was because IT WAS IN FACT WEDNESDAY. 

This was also the day Curly had an ortho appointment. And I knew that. So all was just fine, right? I boggled that too. Forgot to tell her she had to leave school a few minutes early and I failed to let Coach know where he was picking her up for the appointment:  home or school. Remember when kids were at school during school hours? Now, who knows?

How neat does your house have to be to accept a guy to measure stuff? Are some of you lucky enough to never bat an eye - the house is always in WELCOME TO MY ABODE mode? Anyone else still messing up the days of the week?


May 12, 2021

Similarity in how your way matches the way you grew up?

Let me 'splain . . . 

My utensil drawer was overflowing recently. Well, not recently. It's full all the time. Let's blame Becky (HI BECKY) for buying me a spatula for my new kitchen a few years ago. She was shocked that I didn't own a legitimate, actual spatula. 

Now that I own one, I'm not sure how I got by without one. 

Even with a new kitchen with plenty of space, the handles of the utensils were getting stuck and jamming the drawer at times. I thought:  Hmm, if only there was a solution for a drawer overflowing with utensils. 

Exhibit A.

I clicked over to Amazon, as one does. There are utensil holders FOR THE COUNTERTOP. I know, I know. This isn't earth shattering. But I've never owned one. When I thought about it, I realized that my mom never owned one either. Come to think of it, my mom's kitchen never had a spatula like the one Becky gave me, only the kind of spatula one uses for flipping pancakes, which is what I owned prior to the Becky gift - the flipping pancakes kind. Are there different names for these two spatula types? Enlighten me.

Lookie here! It's blue, not black,
 I have a blue island.
Now I feel the need to update
 some of my shabby looking utensils
 to go with the shiny new holder.

Then I began to recognize the many things that I do in my house, because that's how it was when I was growing up. Happily, some of the 'systems' I grew up with, I've shifted away from. I've compiled a list. 

My mom never, ever bought Pam cooking spray. I ONLY decided to purchase some within the last few years. Always just buttered a pan. Life changing. 

My mom never had a cleaning lady. She had really neat-freak kids (myself excluded). I know this about her kids, because my kids are the total opposite, and I recognize the difference. Even as the mother to messy kids, I don't have a cleaning lady. For years it was because I couldn't afford it. I might be able to afford it now, but I don't think I can justify it. My delightful children would trash my home in minutes. They'd watch me lose my shit ALL THE TIME, if they spilled on a floor I paid someone to clean, or peed on a floor, or tracked mud on the floor, - well, you get the idea. 

My folks never had an ottoman or a coffee table in the family room. We don't either. Remember when I tried convincing Coach that we needed one? We have a coffee table in the living room - in fact, it was my parents' coffee table from their living room. I wouldn't mind updating that room with MY OWN NEWLY PURCHASED FURNITURE. Not a priority. 

My mom owned one laundry basket. One. Forever. She had 5 kids. We have at least 7 laundry baskets and it still never seems like it's enough. 

My mom never owned a crockpot. I own three. I think they've just grown in popularity. My high school friend told me that her mom wouldn't use a crockpot because she feared her house would burn down while she was at work. 

I think I mentioned before how my mom owned one slip to wear under skirts, maybe she had 2. Regardless, we (my two sisters and I) all had to borrow it if we needed a slip. We didn't own one. I assume this is because Target didn't yet exist, There was K-Mart. We didn't wear a slip that often, but if we were all getting dressed up mom would get in a frenzy about it. Money was tight, but certainly not THAT tight. As far as my slip inventory - happily, I don't feel the need to wear a slip with my wardrobe pieces. Except that one dress that I wore in Vancouver when Curly danced and you, my blog friends, advised a slip. So I guess that's another similarity - like my mother, I now own one slip.

I find that I still buy some of the cleaning products that my mom bought when I was a kid. Like COMET. TIDE laundry detergent. And Ivory dish soap. I also use the same face moisturizer as my mother:  Oil of Olay. After reading Nicole's recent post about beauty products, I might add a few to the mix.

I won't even go into the food that I serve that my mom wouldn't ever consider preparing. Like peppers. Avocados. Tacos. Chili. I'll stop there, or this will become the longest post ever. Oh, I must mention that I'm less picky in my butter buying. My mom is a great baker. I'm no slouch myself, but my mom goes to great lengths to buy Parkay. I'm more butter/margarine-flexible. 

Also food related:  we didn't have a microwave when we were growing up - even after they were a thing. My mom doesn't like 'new-fangled' stuff. My sibs and I bought a microwave in like 1987 or so for her for Christmas. FINALLY. Prior to that, my mom heated up leftover meatloaf in a frying pan with tomato sauce. How did we survive? 

My sibs were REALLY skinny. My brothers looked malnourished. When I worked at Burger King during high school, my fellow employees (also teens) used to see my family come into the restaurant. My mom always clutching a Whopper coupon in one hand. My BK buds would ask me:  So if you guys ever got locked out of the house, does one of you just crawl under the door to unlock it?  Wise-asses. I differ from my mom here - my teenagers EAT - like as if they might win something. 

My mom almost ALWAYS sported a velour J-Lo-esque jogging suit in the 80s. She was very forward thinking, apparently. We teased her that it was her uniform. I can't say that I've ever owned a velour sweat suit. Look at me, breaking from tradition.

Anyone find themselves falling into the same routines, purchases, or habits as their mothers/or growing up house? Did anyone finally decide to buy themselves a utensil holder only after becoming a card-carrying adult?

May 10, 2021

my kids: spreading awareness and teaching me, how was I such a delinquent?

Lesson number one, Yemen isn't pronounced 'YAY, MAN.' I didn't really pronounce it that way, but my less than perfect pronunciation was corrected by my offspring. 

Ed and his good friend started a club in high school a few years ago - maybe when they were sophomores (2017?). They called it the Global Humanitarian Club (GHC)

The club description:  GHC is a student-run philanthropic organization at (our high school). Each year, members choose a cause and strategize ways they can raise awareness and financial support in the community. GHC has benefitted from its partnerships with other student organizations as well as from the guidance and collaboration of (our local) Rotary Club. This year's focus has been the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen. 

Tank and Mini are GHC co-presidents this year. 

Translation:  Tank berates Mini for not pulling her weight. Mini rolls her eyes to me behind his back while defending her honor. In case you were picturing us all holding hands and singing kumbaya at the dinner table. 

image compliments of vector stock

The group's focus is Yemen.

Reg is involved mainly because the group meets before school and he hops in the car when Tank and Mini drive to school and they make him attend. Tonight I heard Mini tell him that he needs to start to contribute through actual words at the meetings if he ever hopes to be on the board. It is a family thing. He's a freshman, he'll get there. Big shoes to fill. 

Literally, cuz you know Tank wears a size 15 shoe, right?

Anyway, tonight they hosted a presentation in the auditorium. Sadly, it wasn't well attended. Tank made himself nuts hanging flyers at area libraries and posting on websites, etc. I think most of the people who showed up were relatives of the kids in the group. Still, those of us there learned a lot. I'm impressed with the dedication these kids show to learning about a country with so many struggles and trying to spread awareness. 

They showed a short 26 minute documentary (link to the movie in case you are interested, there will NOT be a quiz later) about the issues in Yemen. It was devastating and eye-opening. I feel bad for taking for granted my ability to drink a clean glass of water. 2/3 of the people there are starving. TWO THIRDS!

One of the group members got up and read a poem after the documentary. She happens to be of middle eastern descent and was able to correctly pronounce the occasional foreign words in the poem. We were all given a copy of the poem and it was a beautiful way to wrap things up. Mini said afterwards that the girl's mother came over and thanked the kids for their efforts. Mini said the woman was so moved that she thought she might cry. 

A few juniors who only attended one meeting in the beginning of the year showed up tonight to feign involvement. The teacher failed to get the projector like he was supposed to, and Mini was flustered. She almost clocked a non-regular attendee who kept giggling at Mini as she raced around the building in search of a projector. Guessing these usual no-shows probably want to put GHC on their college application. In the fall Mini plans to make an announcement:  IF YOU AREN'T GOING TO COME REGULARLY DON'T JOIN THE CLUB. THIS ISN'T PING PONG CLUB OR ART CLUB. 

I've never posted a go-fund-me link, and please believe me when I say there is absolutely no pressure to donate. I know I have my charities that I contribute to, and I completely understand that everyone has their limits and that this year has been a financial strain for many. If you are interested in donating, click here for the link.  The link is active until the last day of school on May 21st.

In addition to feeling very fortunate, I'm proud that my kids are legitimately interested in learning about the horrifying circumstances that other people face and that they're trying to make a difference. 

Maybe I'm also feeling like a bit of a shmuck. In high school, I ditched the math club field trip to the board of trade downtown. Instead a few of my buddies and I kept right on going through the revolving door into the building. We goofed around in the city for hours. We checked out the flag demonstrators at the Art Institute (it was 1989 and someone made art but in order to view it you had to step on the flag, if memory serves) and we ate stuffed pizza at Gino's East. Not gonna lie, it felt a tad like Ferris Bueller's ditch day in Chicago. At the end of the day, we showed up to hop back on the bus. Um, our little stunt didn't go unnoticed. Trouble with a capitol T. 

(photo compliments of No joke, this is Ferris and friends at the Art Institute. When we were there the stairs were covered with protestors. Also, it was me and two guys. Tom and can't think of the other guy. He was a wrestler. It'll come to me.

Glad my kids are more devoted and focused than I was. I mean Tank's ski trip was a tad sneaky. 

May 5, 2021

Who's your daddy?

It happened again. While he was talking to his guidance counselor yesterday, Tank referred to his father as 'DADDY'. She'd asked him who else in the family attended Creighton, which is where he is going to college in the fall. He told me, while wincing, that he started to say Daddy went to Creighton, but he coughed or hesitated, trying to cover up his embarrassing hiccup. 

Back when Tank was a freshman he was talking to his golf coach on the bus after a tournament. He accidentally called his coach DADDY. Tank was mortified, sort of. Tank laughs at everything, including himself so he recovered quickly. The coach referenced Tank and his 'DADDY' moment at the end of season golf award ceremony that year. It was hysterical. Most parents in attendance knew Tank, or had heard stories. They died laughing.

I was loading the dishwasher just before bed when Tank was telling me about this guidance counselor incident. Mini came flying in from her study spot in the living room. She wanted to weigh in on the weirdness. The MOMMY/DADDY factor. Apparently, she once called Mr. Grand, her 8th grade English teacher, Daddy. She claims it's also an issue if she calls home while out with friends . . .

Mini:  Are our parents there? (avoiding the embarrassing Is Mommy home? or Can you tell Daddy I'll be home by 4:00?, etc.)

She was poking me, like HEY, THIS IS YOUR FAULT. I was busy loading and I grabbed her wrist and said STOP JABBING AT ME. PLEASE NOTE:  I'M LOADING THE DISHWASHER, WHICH IS YOUR JOB TONIGHT.

Mini:  Oh, yeah, but hey - this is your fault (avoiding the dishwasher job topic). You refer to Daddy as Daddy in conversation. Daddy refers to you as Mommy. 

Me:  What's my fault? I've always been Mommy. What was I supposed to do? When you turned 12 say, QUIT CALLING ME THAT, DAMN IT. GROW UP ALREADY.

I understand that it isn't cool to be in high school and call your parents Mommy and Daddy. I've never threatened them if they DIDN'T call me that. Our house has always been 'young.' Did I miss a memo with a timeline suggesting when I was supposed to tell kids to call me plain MOM? 

Growing up, we called our folks:  Mom and Dad. I never encountered a transition, or if I did I was too young to remember. It never dawned on me to suggest the kids move to more age appropriate titles for Coach and I.

I remember Lad telling me towards the end of his high school years that he wasn't calling me Mommy anymore. Fair enough. (My heart might have broken a little bit). I didn't threaten to disown him. Ed did the same thing, and told me that it was weird that they all still called me Mommy. 

I suppose it is, but it's what I've gone by for over 22 years. 

I was going to insert a photo of one of their cute cards when they were growing up that said "Mommy" on it, but then I found this card that Reg made me for my 30th using my Ernie childhood nickname. I don't remember him doing this. See, I've always given them plenty of options!

One of Ed's good friends calls his dad by his first name:  Huck, and always has. We knew this kid when he was 5 and he was calling his father Huck back then too. 

My college roommate was the oldest of 7. She called her parents Mom and Dad, but when speaking to her siblings she referred to her folks as Mommy and Daddy, as in "Do you know where Mommy is?" 

My own mom called her father DADDY, her entire life. Her mom was always MAMA. We thought this was hilarious as kids, because it was different.

Tank and Mini were all up in arms last night, like I'd done them a disservice. They were ready for a playful type fight. I wanted to go to sleep. This is how it is around here, teenagers come alive and wanna joke around just as I wanna crawl into my bed. I fall for it sometimes, staying up too late and engaging with them. This time I baled.



How about you? What did your kids call you? Or what did you call your folks? Did you have friends that called their folks something untraditional, like Butch? 
To all the mothers out there, or devoted aunts or godmothers, or favorite neighbors, etc . . . HAPPIEST OF MOTHER'S DAYS TO YOU!

May 3, 2021

blood boiling, no luck of the Irish

I had to wait until I was calm to share this story. Lots of deep breaths later, here I am. Trying not to LOSE MY MIND. No guarantees.

A little background:  Major Irish dancing competitions happen 3 times a year, in normal times. Thanksgiving - Midwest champs, July 4th week - National champs, and Easter week - World champs

This might be repetitive for regulars:  Longtime readers will remember trips to Scotland, North Carolina, Vancouver, Orlando, and the recent venue change at Thanksgiving that required a hotel stay in Indianapolis (vs the original dance-in-Chicago plan) where Curly puked between dancing rounds, danced amazing, and had one judge apparently on the verge of blindness who robbed her of the podium. 

*I know I sound like a crazy dance mom, and I get that Irish dancing is subjective - but this was not a judge who gave her a slightly lower placement. She placed her at like 43rd when she clearly deserved more of a 5th place. If she gave her 10th, I'd call it subjective. Moving on . . .  

World champs has been cancelled now two years in a row. Last year's Nationals in Nashville was also cancelled. 

Translation:  this is a crappy time to be a dancer. The goal is to compete. See where you place. (me:  wishful thinking - do your thing, and be done so you can go to high school and do the high school thing without juggling time consuming dancing).

In addition to the majors, there are small local competitions, or if you're nuts - road trip your heart out to attend out of town options. Ah, memories of Mini's dancing days. By small, I mean that MANY people cram into a building and spend a long day watching kids dance and breathing on one another. Well, those 'smaller' deals (called feis) haven't happened in forever. 

This is what a typical feis ('small' competition)
 looked like a few years ago. It's a great way to spend AN ENTIRE SATURDAY.

They 're now scheduling tiny feises. Nearly impossible to register for a spot. Ideally Curly would attend one feis before a major. Get the jitters out. I'm not willing to make myself crazy trying to register. *I will let you know if I eat those words.

This July's nationals are happening. In Arizona. The schedule came out in late Jan. 

I booked flights Feb. 8th using frequent flyer miles. Curly was set to dance the 7th. 

March 4th, Mary, Curly's teacher who we love, sent a group message. Nationals were being split to create two competitions. One in Canada. One in the States. In consideration of travel restrictions, etc. 

I texted Mary. Would Curly dance on a different day? I already had my flights. She  thought it'd be the same, but she'd look into it.

She never texted me different information, so I assumed the schedule was the same. 

Last week, I asked Mary when the hotel block would open. 

*If you've never attempted to get a hotel room in the mandatory block for an Irish dancing competition, then I guarantee you that you're doing something right. Living your best life. I've had multiple kids on phones, laptops, landlines, and we still are rarely successful at reserving in our preferred hotel. 

*I once had to stay 20 min from the venue with my 4 or 5 very young dancers ON MY OWN. Rising at 4 am, I got everyone dressed, fed, and out of the hotel so we could get to the venue at the early time the teachers insisted upon. A memory I don't cherish. 

I'm not good at social media. There, I said it. Not a big secret. Remember how I ended up babysitting for one family this year because I accidentally friended the mom when I saw her FB post? I didn't have my glasses on and thought I was just scrolling past.

Other parents pay attention to dancing FB posts. I ask the teacher for information. Call me old school. I've been called worse. This is our 3rd dancing school, and my previous schools (that I literally hated for other reasons that you'll someday read about in my tell-all Irish dancing book) sent email updates with instructions about registering, etc.  

When they split nationals, they changed the name of the competition and the FB page changed. Well, that's not going to confuse me. 

I heard through the dreaded group-dancing-chat (where people respond to dumb questions separately and repeatedly, because that's fun) that the hotel block would open on April 15th at 11 am. I asked the group if anyone had the link to the hotel blocks. No one could find it. Someone said that the leaders (feel free to picture a short guy behind a curtain like in the Wizard of Oz) claimed they'd update the FB page the morning of the 15th. That does me no good as I still didn't know how to access the FB page.

A mom sent a link with info on the various hotels and where they were in relation to the venue, so I could at least figure out which hotel to shoot for. 

At 10:58 am, (2 min before the link opened) I was texting and calling other moms BEGGING FOR THE LINK. One woman said her husband handles the dancing hotel reservations. Fortunately, we weren't on zoom. She couldn't see me faux strangle her from my kitchen. 

Another mom in the group sent the schedule of when everyone dances. As much as I hate group chats, this was EYE OPENING. Curly now dances on the 8th. The day we were supposed to fly home. It was good to know this BEFORE my non-cancellable hotel reservations. With covid, my guess is they'll allow hotel cancellations this year. 

At 11:00 I texted another mom friend, who 'my-husband-handles-this' told me had gotten a room already. Meanwhile, I called the hotel directly. I was on the phone with the Sheraton when she texted me a screen shot of the links. 

The woman at the Sheraton found our Irish dancing group. She put me on hold towards the end of the process. When she came back, she said the block wasn't open yet and she couldn't reserve my room. BUT IT WAS OPEN!

I typed the URL into my laptop from my friend's screenshot. It was only 50 characters long and time was clicking away. Relaxing.

I made this dress for Mini, age  9.
 The teachers at the time were FURIOUS.
I refused to pay over $1,000 for a used
 dress. They controlled the used dress sales.
 All sales had to go through them. Can you
 say fixed prices? So, I made
 my own pattern/dress. Sometimes
 the system can't be beaten though.
I reserved two double beds. After entering my payment:  sad face WITH - 'Something went wrong' (in the movies, this is when people throw their computers). The website suggested that my room type was no longer available. My hands shook as I rushed through the process AGAIN. Racing the clock. I selected a king bed. The reservation went through. 

Now, I just had to change my flights. American Airlines offered me a callback in 4 HOURS. Huh? I stayed up waiting for my call back, hoping I could beg for a date change but keeping the same mileage. No luck of the Irish this time. It cost me an extra 21,000 miles to adjust our flights from Mon- Thurs to Tues-Fri. 

Anyone else force themselves to love their people's activities even if it means you might die trying?