June 30, 2021

post tornado update, & trophy feeling the weight of world, or the weight of dust?

Wire grad sign stand - 1, me 0.
My one storm injury. Lucky,
 all things considered.
A few post tornado updates:   

NEW LANDSCAPE:  The absence of SO MANY mature trees in our neighborhood makes my gut do a flip. Sigh. 

TAKING FLIGHT:  Tank's grad sign was a casualty of the storm. It was perched on a little wire stand at the side of the house (that faces the street/Mary Ann's house). The sign part was gone, but the wire stand was still there. I knew it was there, but still managed to trip over it while hauling broken branches to the curb.

Well, this is a stupid message to share
 since I basically crossed everything out. 
Later in the day, I got a message that I was tagged in a FB post. It was a woman asking if anyone knew Tank. His grad sign ended up in her back yard and she'd gone through the yearbook - guessing his last name was Shenanigan as that was the only Tank in the yearbook. Her yard:  probably about 3/4 of a mile away, behind the kids' grade school. Crazy. She was kind enough to bring the sign back to us. 

DING DONG:  Mondays (day after the tornado) are one of Coach's long days. He was home Wednesday evening when someone knocked at the front door. I was making dinner. 



Coach just stood in the middle of the kitchen, eyebrows raised, mouth open. 



Raining buckets.
Sunday I walked into Mini and Curly's room early to strip beds. Mini has been in deep doo-doo for the state of her room. OUT.OF.CONTROL. She wants to go to a friend's lake house for July 4th. Have the pit cleaned up by Wednesday of last week AND SHOW THAT SHE COULD MAINTAIN IT THIS WEEK, or don't go.

As a side note, Tank now calls her 'the pit monster'. Totally justified. 

Hardly flattering, but there you go.
Good posture wasn't
my first thought. 
The room was basically clean, but there were trophies all over the floor. The caddies were in the kitchen, surprisingly in high spirits considering. They were preparing to caddy for 30 holes because the 1st day of their tournament got rained out yesterday after only 8 holes. 

They came home soaked yesterday, and so did I. 

The green arrow is pointing out one of 3
baskets of Mini's laundry. Moving it to the
hall does not mean it doesn't exist. The
 fallen trophies wouldn'
t have even been
noticed prior to the clean up. No joke. A few
 of them had the ornament
pieces at the top snap off. 
I got caught in the rain while out for a run. Curly took my photo when I got back. I sent the pic to Coach, who was teaching a class in Michigan. He messaged me back that the deck in the background looks like we like to live surrounded by trash. I don't disagree. 

For some reason, Lad likes to leave clothes and towels out there after he works out. He has other habits I dislike more, so I let it slide. His partial wardrobe mixed with leaves and sticks contributed to our 'we've-been-hit-hard' tornado vibe. 

Anyway, Mini was in the kitchen and I asked her why the trophies were all over the floor (Curly was sleeping over at a friend's house). 

Mini:  Oh yeah, weird. The shelf ripped out of the wall in the middle of the night and the trophies started falling off of it. One even flew over and hit my bed.

Check out the arrow pointing to the lady
trophy topper, she's got the weight of the
 world on her bent little torch. The other
 arrow is showing how the other trophies
 were close to the edge.
When Coach got home, he was shocked. It was mounted with anchors and everything. We haven't added a trophy in forever - competing hasn't happened in so long. I suspect that it came loose after the room shaking that the girls' described during the storm. It finally pulled away a week later - delayed reaction? The laundry room is on the other side of the wall, so it isn't like a sibling was next door pounding on the shared wall to cause this. 

Oh, and no - apparently Mini doesn't
That's the anchor pulling away.
know that the laundry room is located in such close proximity to her bedroom. 

I can't help but wonder if the dust on those trophies just got too heavy. 

June 28, 2021

I love summer?, possible fraud alert, ISO a white flag to wave, & boat thing explained

I love summer. Or, I used to. I count down the weeks till I'm done babysitting so I can kick back and focus on stuff I want to focus on. 

So, um . . . when does that start? The 'doing my stuff' bit. I'm losing my patience, or maybe my mind. Probably both.

I've been to the grocery (or convinced a kid or Coach to:  "Grab 5 things") INSANELY frequently lately . . . including twice today, and both trips involved me - no delegating. I'm waiting to get a call from the fraud department at Mastercard:  

Some very hungry person has your credit card. Don't worry, we'll catch the perp on his next run into a store. We're noticing a pattern of every 6 to 12 hours. Who could possibly grocery shop THIS much?

My other favorite past time - downsizing or eliminating things from the fridge that don't need to take up SO MUCH SPACE, particularly because new arrivals are always joining the ranks. 

When I'm not gathering provisions, cooking meals, loading the dishwasher (the kids have been unloading- they live in fear of my bark), and repeating it all over again  . . . I'm driving to basketball camps or Irish dancing or the caddy shack. When I'm not driving, I'm mapping out who has what car. It's not a perfect system. 

Thursday we messed up. It dawned on me:  I had no car until the girls returned from b-ball camp around 10:15. Ed often has a loop after the girls get back, so he takes that car. Thursday he caddied early so he had my car, girls had kid car. Coach had the great white at work. 

Reg needed to be at his b-ball camp by 10, which means get there by 9:45 to be READY to start at 10. I used my phone-a-friend and scored him a ride with a neighbor whose son plays varsity too.

Another b-ball kid has driven Reg a ton this summer but couldn't that morning because of his own family car shortages. I baked after the tornado when it was in the low 70s. Reg will thank him on my behalf with a plate of cookies. 

The funny thing is:  I REMAIN OPTIMISTIC. I make a list each day and I stupidly believe After I get it all done, I will work on my projects:  blogging, writing my memoir, and working on the grad video I NEED to complete prior to Tank's grad party. 

My brain needs to be rewired to think:  

This ain't happening. 

Wave the white flag, now. 

Next short post will demonstrate how the mind is the first thing to go. Anyone else not able to get anything accomplished in the summer? 

Bonus short story:  I eluded to my difficulty walking across a moving boat in my tornado post . . . 

I finally kicked off my shoes. I'm sorry I don't have the sound track for this, so you could hear my kids taunting me. Coach IS trying to help me, although it looks like he is tossing me overboard. Curly, Mini, Tank, and Reg are cry-laughing.

Conrad's parents (Ed's friend, sister is BFF of Mini's) invited us to hang out on their boat last Friday night. We had a blast.  

I didn't grasp the expectation when they wanted to take a photo. I thought they were snapping a photo of the kids who were sitting at the front of the boat. Conrad's parents asked me to hand them my phone, followed by pointing. It wasn't until I was moving towards the front of the boat (in cute wedge sandals, mind you) that I felt like I might go over the edge of the boat. I can swim, but I didn't WANT to. 

A tiny little silver bar separated me from Lake Michigan. Apparently I was expected to glide along the boat without clinging to the side for dear life. To everyone's amusement, I hunched over the cabin area window part of the boat, inching my way to the front like a goof. 

Eventually, they took some decent family photos of us in addition to some very comical ones, minus Ed and Lad who had other plans. Everyone is smiling . . . because I was being laughed at. 

June 23, 2021

Who sleeps so deeply, they miss a TORNADO?

Let's just say, when I'm tired, I'm not messing around. 

I got my allergy shots Friday morning. I only have to get them once a month now. I need to start paying attention to whether or not my body reacts the same way each month, because yowza. 

We went out on our friends' boat Friday night. So fun. 

The family, or safe to say BOTH families, are still laughing at my attempt to walk across a moving boat. (more on this later - I tried to include it, but holy lengthy).

Coach asked me to drive home, which normally would be fine because I drink very little alcohol (and STILL can't walk across a moving boat). I could NOT keep my eyes open though. If it had been socially acceptable, I would've curled up on the floor of the boat at 9 pm and napped mid lively conversation. I managed to stay awake on the drive home. Barely. 

Saturday we had a grad party. I usually eat at home before a party in case there are no GF options. I didn't have time to eat before we left. The food was awesome and I don't think I consumed any gluten, but hard to know. I also ate dinner later than I normally do. Not sure if it was the shots, the food, the late meal, or something else but my insides were complaining. Not puking or anything drastic. Just complaining and waking me up crazy early. 

So, I was tired on Sunday (Dad's day). 

Father's Day I took Curly to a dancing competition. We haven't been at a feis (small competition) in 16 months. I've never entered her in the Dad's day feis in the past, but she needed to compete as a trial run before we head to Nationals in a few weeks in AZ. They only allow a small number of competitors at a feis now, so this was no easy thing. She had a basketball tournament Saturday, so Sunday it was. I also refused to travel for a feis, and this one was only 20 minutes away.

They promised a 'quick' feis. Show up at your assigned time, dance, and be done. All to avoid crowds. Epic fail there. We arrived at 9:30 am and left at 2 pm. 

Have I mentioned that I was tired?

Also Sunday:  Coach invited his folks for lunch. The drive is less than an hour. They live in fear of 'weather', so they cancelled because of a possible storm. Fortunately, I have many mouths who were happy to eat all of the food bought/prepared for this lunch. Still, my in laws have been doing this weather-related baling thing for years and missing life in the process - when the weather OFTEN amounts to NOTHING. There ended up being a small rain burst in the evening around 7:30 pm. They would've been fine coming for lunch. But, then . . . 

At 11:30 pm, shortly after I went to bed (after snoozing on the couch for an hour plus) the windows in our room started rattling. A lot. It sounded like our house was going through a car wash. The windows were being hit with a STRONG spray. They  were shut, but I was convinced that the shutters inside our room were going to blow open. 

What, you might ask, did I do? I sat upright for 10 seconds and laid down and went  to sleep. Apparently coma-like sleep. I heard nothing. Not the alert on my phone. Not the deafening sirens outside. Not the funnel cloud or 70 mph winds as it moved through our neighborhood. Nope. 

Monday:  I didn't wake up at 6ish like usual. What do they PUT in my allergy shots? Tank woke me at 7:35 am. 


Well, I was awake NOW

Sorry this is sideways. Ugh. Rotate your phone? I took this while driving into the neighborhood. The entrance is in the photos below.

After I drove Tank to work at 7:45 am. The entrance to my neighborhood looked like this when I returned. 

I peeked outside and I could NOT believe my eyes. Driving through the neighborhood to get Tank to work was bazaar. It looked like we were in a jungle with the tops of trees in the road. Huge, 20 or 30 year old trees. Incredible, and sad.

The white house on the right is in the photo above, to give you perspective. Four trees in a row on the left side of the street and one tree (hard to see because a tree behind it is still standing) on the right side of the street. Below is what the same area looked like later in the day.

As Tank and I were getting in the car, Mary Ann yelled across the street to me. Something like:  HEY - YOU GUYS OK?


Our toppled swing set (Coach says too broken to be fixed) and some of the tree limbs from the nearby tree that lost its top/back half. Below is my new view out my kitchen window. That tree WAS so much larger.

Mary Ann gave me a dumbfounded look. Worse than when her packages land on my porch. She switched to an angry face, like I did something intentionally to hurt her when really it was just us being idiots. Well, I wasn't an idiot. I was tired.

A storm was expected at 3 in the afternoon, but that didn't happen. My kids said they heard alerts on their phones, but they just hit OK without reading it and went back to sleep. Coach admits that he heard the warnings, but most of the time nothing happens so he ignored it. He sees now that this was a mistake. 

Wilhelm enjoying watching the chipper. That grinding tree noise has been the backdrop of the neighborhood for two solid days. 

Houses (not in our neighborhood, but in the town adjacent to ours - where Delilah lives) were flattened. It's just staggering. Trees uprooted. Roofs ripped a part. A chimney toppled around the corner. A window was broken a few doors down. The entrance to our neighborhood lost 5 BIG TREES. It looks SO different. Barren. Fortunately, no loss of life. The immediate response of trucks and workers clearing everything was very impressive. 15 cars filled my culdesac this morning and volunteers hopped out to help people chop up downed trees. Heart warming. 

Who sleeps through a tornado? 

June 21, 2021

Yellowstone or bust, take 4? (I think, but I might've lost track)

I don't think I've mentioned the status of our Yellowstone trip. We were needing the previously mentioned new van in time for our Yellowstone trip. With or without a siren. A few weeks ago, Yellowstone emailed me to let me know that they aren't opening the part of the park where our reservations are. My initial response:  YOU GOTTA TO BE KIDDING ME? 

Yellowstone circa 2010. 

This, as everything is opening? When I called they explained that the national parks are opening very slowly. Additionally they are having staffing issues. Dang. 

After a little deep breathing, I realized it's probably for the best for a number of reasons. One of which:  the main road in the park is under construction this summer. It would've taken 4 hours to drive around the park the long way to get from what we consider the most popular part of the park - to the other best part of the park. Without construction the drive between point A and point B is about an hour.

Still. It's mind blowing. For those of you who have lost track this marks the 4th time we or the pandemic has cancelled this trip. First time was a last minute reservation prompted by my dad:  LET'S GO TO YELLOWSTONE. I sort of booked it on a 'you-can't-get-a-cabin-now' dare. The cabins I scored were rough riders, so no bathrooms. Nothing about it seemed ideal and I still didn't have Coach on board. So, we said AH, WE CAN GET BETTER RSERVATIONS NEXT YEAR. 

The next year, I got decent reservations. My dad and Coach planned to attend. When I realized that I was taking the two girls to Vancouver - it seemed all wrong in a LET'S NOT PLAY FAVORITES sort of way. (I grew up surrounded by favoritism, and I didn't make the list. Now I do my best NOT to play that way). Why not do Vancouver right, since we'd not likely get back there? We cancelled our reservations and took the family on a VERY memorable trip. 

My next set of reservations also included my dad and Coach, who had accepted his role as the official mountain driver by this stage. His presence was non-negotiable. Then in February my dad cancelled his upcoming July participation to take my sister on a trip to Paris. My poor feelings. I addressed how hurt I was by sobbing through a long-overdue, heartfelt laundry list of this-shit-shouldn't-have-happened in my folks' family room. THEN COVID CANCELLED BOTH MY TRIP AND THE TRIP MY DAD AND SISTER PLANNED TO TAKE ANYWAY. 

I did not invite my dad to join us this summer, and same goes for next summer. He's not getting any younger anyway. Plus, boundaries. I can't drink their Kool-Aid anymore. Leave that to my siblings. 

Just planning this trip has been an adventure. You know the saying:  GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN? Since when did fun include blood, sweat, and tears?

July 2022, YELLOWSTONE. Gonna be epic. 

I got my early bird code to make a new reservation back  the end of May. I woke up at 1 am when the window opened and was able to reserve the same cabins for the same time NEXT summer. It felt a little Ground Hog Day-ish. Stay tuned as this trip is bound to be lively and full of interesting details when it actually takes place. 

June 16, 2021

Sometimes it's hard to be me: you're laughing with me, not at me

I'm gonna come right out and say it, in case you didn't know:  

sometimes it's hard to be me. 

Sometimes I BELIEVE that I have super powers and I do a bit too much. 

Exhibit A:  I slept a ton a few weeks ago, waking up Sunday morning feeling rested. Later in the day, that rested feeling turned into a need for more rest. I was confused, but never one to deny myself a nap - I napped. When I woke up, I wondered if a large truck had driven over my head. That was Memorial Day. 

On Tuesday, I felt well enough to load the 3 toddlers and one 10 month old in my care into the Great White along with my faithful companion, Mini, and head to the city. She and I took my little tribe to the Shedd Aquarium. So fun. 

What was I thinking? I asked myself out loud. It took longer to load people in the car than anticipated. This is not new. It's life with littles. Duh. What happened to my brain? As much as I like to think of Mini as a mini-me, I have to tell her everything to do, to load, who to change, where to buckle. Sharing a brain would be so much easier and time saving.

Three tots and Mini holding baby
- checking out penguin.

Then, there was traffic. Cars drove up to the front of the line and wanted to merge as if they didn't realize that their lane was ending  - I turned to Mini and said: THIS IS WHEN I NEED A SIREN ON MY VAN. I didn't let anyone sneak in front of me. I was in the GO-AHEAD,-HIT-THE-BIG-WHITE.-ME-NO-CARES frame of mind. 

As we passed the exit for the zoo, I looked at Mini and I tried to 'splain myself. "I guess I was thinking the Shedd wasn't much farther than the zoo. What's wrong with me?" Never mind what Mini's answer was. She still thinks I'm amazing. Of course. 

Our tickets had an arrival window. As we sat in traffic and fretted about whether to bypass the parking garage in hopes of scoring closer street parking because of how late we were . . . that arrival window CLOSED. Mini and I agreed:  NO ONE COULD TURN US AWAY. RIGHT? LOOK AT US. THE EFFORT WE'D GONE TO WOULD BE CLEAR TO STAFF. 

We hoped. 

We did NOT sing Baby Shark on this visit.
I ban that song from my home

At last, the Shedd was in sight. I chanced it, with parking that is. I drove down the road away from the parking garage that would add another 15 minutes to our walk to the Shedd. We'd score parking, RIGHT? 


Half of the street along the lakefront between the Shedd and the Planetarium was blocked off. They were filming something.


Instead I asked the parking attendant if I could turn my big ass van around in the parking lot at the end of the road, that lot was where I'd park if all else failed, and fail it did. The lot was blocked off though for the filming people. He let me drive through the lot . . . on two wheels, because I had to high-tail it back to the Shedd and do the faraway parking garage . . . while the clock was TICKING. 

Mini and I came up with a back up plan, if the Shedd was strict about their ding-dang arrival window. We'd walk along the lake and look at boats for a bit and the tall buildings. We both agreed that'd be lame. It'd be kinda "LOOK KIDS, BIG BEN"-ish. But, two year olds can be easily impressed.

I pulled up to the sidewalk in front of the Shedd. *I have a history on this sidewalk. Note to self:  share that story soon.  




Mini:  HERE, TAKE MY PHONE. (one of us had a working brain. Helpful).

Low and behold, there was an even pricier outdoor lot that was a stone's throw away from where I left her. I didn't know about this lot. So much easier than the stadium's $25 parking garage with elevators and freaky low ceilings that make it scary to drive a big ass van in. I was happy to park in this $30 lot. Hell, I would've given them $50. 

(I've uploaded a 14 sec video below so you can see what it feels like to drive the white van in a parking garage. Claustrophobic much?)

Well, I almost couldn't give them ANY dollars. The sun's glare, plus me rushing, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to work the 'insert credit card here' machine. There was a button way too low for a person driving a kick ass rusty van to see initially. 

No, the cars behind me were NOT upset that I'd woken up depleted of brain cells. Thanks for asking. 

I sprinted to the entrance of the museum. Something in my pocket started screaming, like Halloween screams and I realized Mini was calling me. Note to self:  ask her why she has a screaming for a ring tone.

Mini: We're in. Everything's fine. The lady was nice. She said for you to just come to the door and tell her your name and she'll let you in. All good. 

I bypassed all the people in line, walked in the door. Mini waved at me from over to the side. I announced my name to the employee woman at the door. 


I looked towards Mini and took a few steps. 


Me:  OH, UM  . . . 

No swear words were uttered in the making of this adventure.
We had an impromptu lunch by the water. Shedd is on the left.

I turned back but the woman didn't seem to mind that I'd missed my entrance window by over 15 minutes, flashed her my 'credentials' verbally, and then just marched in like I owned the place.

Oh, my sleepy day on Memorial Day? A relentless sinus infection took over me that week. Somehow Tuesday, our Shedd day, was the only day for about 10 that I ended up headache-less. When you read this, I'll be at Tank's orientation with him. Very grateful that I got antibiotics and am feeling MUCH better before we board our plane. 

June 14, 2021

When you don't know what you want till you learn that it's an option


*I recently posted that I walk a mile in like 13 minutes. Wrong. My phone shared with me that I'm really more around the 14:30 or even 15 and above minute range- although I was pushing a stroller then. Probably makes more sense to those of you who were paying attention and thought I occasionally morphed into a cartoon with super fast walking abilities. My Nike Run Club app has been messing up though and telling me that I've completed one mile when I am just over 3/4 of a mile. Maybe it's my phone screwing up as it ages, or not great internet? Anyway, wanted to clear that up.

*I attended Tank's best buddy's grad party last night. Um, the one who took Tank on the 'family' ski trip that only included a grandpa. Remember when I said I wondered if this was a beer-buying grandpa? Bingo. My suspicions were confirmed at the party by a sister in law or whoever. I really don't care but I was sharing the story with his buddy's family who all thought it was hilarious. Of course. The icky timeframe between high school ending and college starting could not wrap up soon enough as these behaviors are becoming more and more the norm - - - even though we aren't quite at college yet. You get me?

The post:  The Great White has served us well for over 11 years. Our 12 seater Chevy Express van needs some work. Brakes. Tires. Probably other parts that are tougher for me to name, because CLUELESS. Suffice it to say, we're on borrowed time with this van.

Oh, and I'm not the only clueless one - it's a family trait. Exhibit A:  In early May, the car started smelling like something was burning. Well, that can't be good. I thought it was related to a tire. Maybe I turned the wheel too harshly while trying to park. There is no good angle to try to park that monster.

Coach took the car in. He lives in fear of it breaking down, or in this case exploding.

Um, Don our car guy called to say that they'd found a plastic bag stuck on the exhaust pipe. Yep. The bag was wrapped around the exhaust or stuck up in there somewhere. We only had to pay $60 to have it removed. Cheapest (and possibly dumbest) car repair ever. 

We don't feel like pouring more money into this car. We aren't the let's-buy-a-new-car type. We'll take something slightly used - being budgeteers and all. 

Lad works at a dealership for one of the brothers that I once babysat, and yes they love to be reminded of childhood nicknames like Baby Face while at their places of business. Lad told them to keep an eye out for a used Chevy Express, or something similar. Honestly I asked them to have it on their radar a year ago before Lad worked there. When they found us the Great White 11 plus years ago, it was a no-brainer. This has taken some time. 

The Great White is a Chevy, but Coach and I aren't opposed to going the Ford Transit route. I almost snapped a photo of one while I was driving to dancing just now, but HELLO, driving. Plus this particular one had no windows. We are hoping for windows. 

Finally, Lad came home last week and said they found a van at an auction (these aren't usually traded in).

Lad:  It's silver.

Me:  Oh, OK. I'm ready for a color change.

Lad:  There's one problem. It has a siren on top of it.

Me: Huh? Does it work?

Lad:  We could probably remove it because it won't fit in the garage with it on there. We could make the space into a sun roof. 

Me:  EF THAT - DON'T GO MESSING WITH MY SIREN. I WANT THE DAMN SIREN. We can make the garage door bigger, right? Look at the magic we worked on the laundry room door when the dryer wouldn't exit politely.

Coach:  Hey Curly, if Mommy has a siren you might never be late for Irish dancing again.

The next day I asked Lad how many miles were on my 'new' van. 

Lad:  Oh, yeah. It sold.

Me: Huh? 

Sad because I don't know about you, but I occasionally come across idiot drivers. I had envisioned myself flipping on the siren if someone ticked me off. Let me translate that:  ALWAYS. I would've driven with the siren on AT.ALL.TIMES. 

No joke - I was legit bummed about this. There are people who get excited about fancy cars like that Tesla brand, but when you shop for a big-ass ugly van and you see the fear in people's faces when you try to park near them, additional fun features are HUGE. 

The search continues. 

June 9, 2021

OPINIONS NEEDED: exterior house color

Seeking your opinion/ expertise/ input . . . we are tired of having to paint the house every 6 or 7 years. Dang, it's pricey. We're leaning towards replacing the cedar siding with aluminum siding. They make it now to mimic wood, but more durable than wood. 

Color? The house is red brick on the first floor. Wouldn't be my pick, but not interested in painting the brick - so there we are. 

Front - tough to see full view because of the tree and bush in the front far corner. We had the trees trimmed last year and that big ass bush in front of the front door next to the tree probably needs to go. It does make our front porch very private. What can I say, we tend to be dark and mysterious.
Side view that faces the culdesac.

Below is the back view. If you look carefully you can see the top of Curly's head. She's reading on the deck. "Who is this 50 year old crazy lady with baby toys on her deck," say all my confused neighbors.

What, we don't need a paint job. This looks fabulous.
 To the right, just out of view is the dumb overgrown bush.

I love the color combos the website suggests, but none of their examples show how to coordinate them with red brick. The examples are recently built houses with brick colors that lend themselves to earthy tones, etc. We can just stick with white. We've lived here 13 years. Sometimes change is nice, but changing to something so drastic might not be the route to go. It's not like it would be paint and we  could just change it in a few years. 

Product? Have you heard of Hardie Board? One person I consulted who does interior design type work says that Hardie Board will fade and will need to be painted at some point. It's the most expensive product out there. It comes with a lifetime warranty, so can it really fade? Require painting? 

*editing to add:  I found an article stating that after 15 years Hardie board needs to be painted. Well, that's not ideal.

Open to suggestions. Oh, and for all of my LOVE-TO-PLANT-AND-GROW-STUFF friends, please try to ignore my lack of all things growing and flowering. 
evening blue

bothbay blue (with red? hmm?)

night gray (maybe my favorite) -
but can I handle the change?

light gray (our last house was
 red brick and light gray)

the gray one with no caption
 is aged pewter. My blog is getting
sassy with me and won't let me label it.

I grew up in a red brick house with
blue siding and burgundy shutters.
 I always thought it didn't match.
 But I do LIKE blue. 
I think this is night gray.

example of a dark color with red brick
Maybe technically dark blue - looks nothing
like my house, but makes me wonder
what it would look like on my house.

June 7, 2021

And the winner is . . .

Every year our high school hosts a fun-loving, silly competition:  Mr. (insert name of our high school). 10 contestants compete for bragging rights and a coveted sash. Tank was nominated by his classmates.

The competition was on March 27th. A few days before homecoming. Tank was also nominated for homecoming court. It was a lot to prepare for simultaneously - a strange occurrence due to homecoming being rescheduled from the fall. 

It was hard to keep track of which event Tank was focusing on. 

Tank:  I have to pick a song.

Also Tank:  I need to come up with a funny blurb for my introduction.

Me (scratching  my head):  Wait, didn't we already pick a song?

Tank:  No, that was for homecoming. I need a song to memorize for the Don't-forget-the-lyrics part of the Mr. HS Contest. 

Around the SAME time, his applications for all of the college scholarships were due. I became Tank's official proofreader, suggestion maker, direction giver when it came to writing essays for these scholarships. He'd decided to apply to SEVERAL . . . so I also became his unpaid secretary. 

Tank came home from school one day and announced that he'd decided to end his   retirement. He was going to Irish dance for the talent component of the Mr. competition. *He danced from the time he was 6 years old till he was in 6th grade. This does not imply that he danced WELL*  And he wanted to wear a kilt. 

Shock or not:  we ARE Irish, but we don't own a kilt. 

Enter Facebook marketplace. I shopped and shopped. Fun fact:  many 2nd hand kilts were once worn by men with a waistline twice the size of Tank's 33 inch waist. He wanted the real deal. It had to look impressive. 

I reached out to a woman in St. Louis selling 3 jackets. I asked about sizing and explained that I was also in need of a kilt. Well, her uncle (who I assume had passed away) had a kilt. She dug it out for me. 

My kids tease me for oversharing/becoming familiar with strangers. This woman's first name is my middle name. Her last name? My grandma's maiden name. I shared this 'connection' with her. I described Tank's mission to Irish dance in the Mr. HS Competition. When I wondered about sizing, she admitted that her uncle was 'not a very big man.' Tank was offended when I said this sounded like Tank. Then I showed him a photo of a kilt made for a BIG man and he understood. She thought the jacket was a 42 and since Coach's sport coat is a 44 and too big for Tank, I thought it would be perfect. It wasn't - but the show must go on.

She sold us the whole outfit for a VERY reduced rate. $65. Plus I paid shipping. She said her uncle would be thrilled. 

Me to my kids:  SEE, it helps to get to know people. (My I'll-talk-to-anyone self-promotion earned me some serious eye-rolls)

I considered paying a place to alter the snug jacket. Instead, I added to the sleeve length and moved the buttons. It worked. 

In all the excitement, I failed to take any photos the night of the competition. This is at home, trying on the outfit before I extended the sleeves. Oh, and he had a terrible cold - his nose is bright red.

Shoes:  Tank wears a size men's 15. Irish dance shoes are not made that big. I ordered men's tap shoes on Amazon. I shopped for other shoes, in case those didn't work. I sent Curly to the studio to dig out Ed's old hard shoes (that are in the for sale bin) just in case they'd work. Um, only if we were going to duct tape them to his feet. When an enormous pair of men's ballet shoes arrived from Amazon, I stopped in my tracks. 

Me to Tank (holding up the ballet shoes):  We've crossed a line here. I don't even remember ordering these. This is out of hand.

Coach wondered if he'd ever come home from work and NOT hear us debating what to include in Tank's witty intro, or hear Tank schedule a time for Curly to teach him an amazing dance. The dancing lessons in the basement were something to behold. I was doubled over. 

Curly (frustrated that Tank still couldn't learn the dance after she 'dumbed' it down):  I already changed it to a slide, whip. Just do it three times in a row. How can you not remember that? It's so easy.

Tank:  You're gonna have to go up on stage with me. I can never remember all of this. 

After much convincing, Tank agreed to perform the St. Patrick's Day Set - a basic dance that every dancer learns at a young age and can never forget, because it is engrained in them. We explained to him that to the audience it wouldn't look like a baby step. 

Every night for weeks when I went to bed, I'd hear Tank in the basement memorizing/practicing the song he chose for don't forget the lyrics. 

Show time:  Curly and I went to the show. Two tickets per competitor. Coach was at work. Mini was selling tickets at the door, since this competition was raising funds for the Global Humanitarian group the kids run. She was able to watch from the doorway of the auditorium. Her BFF who was selling tickets too, commented on Tank's dancing talent. Mini doubled over:  HE'S NOT GOOD, AND HE TOTALLY MESSED UP, BUT THAT'S OK. 

When Tank walked on stage for the 'formal wear' dressed in his kilt ensemble, the place went wild. (another kid wore a Teletubby costume). When he came out to dance in the talent portion, I assume that people expected him to fake dance. When he ACTUALLY danced, well - I was watching one of the three judges (teachers at the school). His hands went up to the top of his head in disbelief. To be a tad over-the-top-ish, I created a slideshow of Tank and his siblings in their Irish dancing endeavors to play in the background. It's a little washed out from the stage lights, but you get the idea.

Bottom line:  It was hilarious and entertaining. It was also great to be at an event and to see all these high school kids show their personalities and act goofy. Another positive to the pandemic limitations, the show was taped and shared in a link. I was able to send the link to anyone who wanted to see Tank in action. *I am providing the link here, but no pressure - this is lengthy and it is high school boys trying to outdo each other's goofy antics. Not for everyone. I 've  included a cheat sheet below the link in case you want to jump to a specific part. And yes, I realize you might hear my name and his name, etc. I trust you all NOT to share with Mary Ann. 

To tune in and watch Tank specifically (the formal wear and talent parts are two best highlights/quick snippets):

    * formal wear is 7:30 minutes into the show. 
    * talent (he dances twice in his kilt) is at 38:30
    * don't forget the lyrics (had to continue to sing a song once they turn off the music) is at 1:14:10
    * announce top 3 finalists 1:36:45 -note:  
    * interview questions is at 1:40:15
    * all 10 contestants perform a choreographed dance is at 1:45:00
    * announcing the winner and Tank's speech where he thanks Curly for teaching/reminding him of his dance moves is at 1:47:00

The envelope please:  The other contestants had told Tank backstage that they all agreed to do the show for fun, but they all knew he'd win. To them there was no question. But of course, one never knows. 

Curly and I went nuts when Tank was announced the winner

It was so awesome. 

The guys chanted:  speech, speech. 

Tank's speech (included):  Is Curly in the house? Stand up, Curly. Everyone clap for my little sister who re-taught me how to Irish dance just for this show. 

My next post only a few paragraphs. I'm seeking your advice about a color for our house. Get ready to weigh in. First I show you my kid's actual face, share our real name, and then I show you my house - look at us just getting all familiar.

June 2, 2021

NOPE, THAT'S MY ANSWER - a response the yearbook staff wasn't expecting

In my never ending potty training process, William is STILL refusing to leave the family room to walk to the bathroom. If by chance I don't make eye contact with him, he paces and winces in discomfort. I have tried things like:  IF YOU HAVE TO GO, JUST WALK. I've assured him that only the babies need to stay in the family room:  BIG BOYS CAN WALK IN THE KITCHEN. IF YOU HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM, JUST WALK. JUST WALK. 

Once there, he can undress himself waist down and get on the potty. He never has accidents. It's just GETTING THERE. Tonight, he exited the family room three times in as many minutes while I was cooking dinner to hand me a tissue that he allegedly used to wipe his nose, even though he doesn't have a cold. 

Me (in my head, or to my children):  Why can he wander out of the room randomly EXCEPT when he needs to? 

A few weeks ago, we were trying to get him to feel more comfortable leaving the family room. He arrived crying and some of my kids were sleeping, so I told him to stay in the mudroom until he was done crying. He settles down in less than a minute usually. He left the mudroom when he stopped crying. He was in the kitchen, where Mini was eating breakfast. We all agreed to make no sudden movements. "Let's see what he does." 

He wandered over to where Mini was sitting at the table. He stood there like a statue for a solid 5 minutes or more - STARING at the side of her face. 

After a while, Mini raised her hand. I called on her, 'Yes, Mini?':  


I died. She and I were trying not to deter him from his rare free-to-roam moment, but we were shaking with laughter. It was beyond hilarious. Other than the here's-my-tissue incident and the Mini stare down, he really refuses to leave the family room. 

In a few weeks, Mini accepts the role as his babysitter (still in my house, but I can take a backseat) for the summer. Let the countdown begin.

I know you remember Mini practice driving while wearing her hair-drying twisty turban during the pandemic. The girl really doesn't care what anyone thinks. Still, she'd prefer not to be stared at by a 2.5 year old for no apparent reason.

Tank graduated Monday night, more on that later. When we walked up to the football field, I looked down at my toenails in my sandals. The days leading up to graduation were light-speed, record-breaking busy. Toenails were not a priority. "I guess I should've re-done my toes," I muttered. 

I snapped a photo of this poster at a school not
long ago and I've been waiting for a good time
 to include it in a post. This sums it up.
Love this message, plus KERMIT is so cute.
Mini:  Why? I will not bother. I just don't see the point. (She wasn't wrong - we were sitting in the bleachers of a football field. I had on a cute dress, no one would notice my partially chipped nails).  

Mini just doesn't care to conform. She cares little what anyone thinks, and I think that's awesome. I wish I could go back to my high school self and whisper:  IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THEY THINK. In truth, I really did do my own thing and didn't care MUCH about the opinion of others, but there were times when I worried a bit or wondered what people thought of me. Is it possible NOT to think that way in high school? Anyway . . . 

The kids got their yearbooks the other day. Mini rolled her eyes about someone on the yearbook staff.

Mini:  So, they reached out to me and asked me if I'd give them a quote. They asked me what I typically thought about when I was playing tennis. I said I usually think about what I'm going to eat - like after practice, or I think about what's for dinner or something. So, they texted me back and asked me to change my answer, like maybe I didn't understand the question. I texted back:  NOPE. THAT'S MY ANSWER.

She then flipped to the tennis pages of the yearbook where her quote appears. She showed me her quote:  We asked Mini Shenanigan what she thinks about when she's playing tennis, she said "I THINK ABOUT WHAT I AM GOING TO EAT." Then she instructed me to read the other tennis player quotes - all very relevant to tennis. 

We cried laughing. So funny. 

I guess I'm the kind of mom who is proud of my quirky kid. I'm good with her being who she is. Apparently, she's hungry. 

June 1, 2021

how my people, OK, just Tank, drive me crazy

I shared Mini's issues, Tank now takes center stage:  YOU LOVE 'EM ANYWAY . . .

 Mom's pen:  

I know you visit my blog for
the exceptional photography.
Pens, where do they go? Lately coming across a pen has been paramount to coming across a room in perfect order in my home.

I found a pen - probably in my purse (you know things are bad when you have to dig in your purse in hopes of finding a pen rather than the drawer where pens live in the kitchen). I liked this pen. A lot. So, I labeled it. MOM'S PEN. 

Then last week, I realized that I hadn't seen my pen for days. Tank came into the kitchen and randomly announced:  OH, I'VE BEEN USING YOUR PEN. THE ONE YOU WROTE YOUR NAME ON. 

He told me that me labeling my pen was funny. Note to self:  order more pens from Amazon. edited to add:  I DID order more pens, but I do smile when the pen that is still labeled 'MOM'S PEN' appears in circulation.

M & M thievery:  

Because I wanted to drive myself bat-shit crazy, I potty trained Wilhelm. The boy who cannot respond to a question, but simply repeats every.word.someone.else.says. When he pooped in the potty and I tried to celebrate, I pointed and said:  WILHELM, WHAT DID YOU DO? To which he responded, while staring at his, well, you know waste:  WHAT DID YOU DO? (me: pounding head into wall)

I bought a bag of M & M's. My go-to treat for potty training. I'd been picking an M & M out of the trail mix bag from Costco, but finally remembered to buy a separate bag. A supply. A stash. 

The bag was in my hiding place and mysteriously open the morning after I bought it. I had yet to reward Wilhelm for his 'successes', so WHO OPENED IT? My offspring know that a random bag of M & M's is not meant for public consumption. It is FOR something. If I wanted them to be devoured I'd put them out in little decorative bowls. 

My inquiring mind wanted to know, so I left a note on the counter next to the open bag. 'Who's the idiot who opened my M & M's?' The next morning in very small print, Tank had written his name. As if any of us didn't know who the culprit was. 

Tank is very sarcastic and often says things in a voice full of fake sincerity, which can be confusing (also known as insincerity, but that seems insufficient here). He found my note on the counter hilarious, or so he claimed. 

Tank:  You're SO funny. (he doesn't really think I'm funny, so I was not buying it - I stood waiting for the punch line). I took a picture of the note you wrote and sent it to my friends. Now they think you're hilarious too. 

I looked at him with my head tilted to one side - not sure if I should believe him, my nose and forehead wrinkled. 

Mini, stepping it to translate in a smarmy teacher voice (no joke):  So, Tank is really complimenting you on being funny here. I know it doesn't sound like it, but he's being genuine. (Now Tank looked confused, so Mini continued) Tank, you aren't serious often enough and the inflection you speak with is the same inflection that you use when you're being sarcastic, so Mommy isn't sure that you actually THINK she's being funny.

Tank:  But I just TOLD her that I thought she was funny. (shrugs and walks away)

Mini:  This is a good start, we'll continue to work on Tank's sincerity. But, Mommy - you're funny. He thinks so, it's just coming off sarcastic. For real. 


During the pandemic, when the kids were all learning from home and I had a handful of toddlers and babies woven into our crazy days, my only peace was in the shower. Or, not.

One day I was in the shower. Knock, knock, knock.

Me:  I'm in the shower.

Tank (in a muffled voice): Can I eat the leftover blah blah blah for lunch?


After that incident, also known  as the day I almost lost my mind, I made a new rule. NO ONE WAS TO ASK ME WHAT WAS FOR DINNER AND NO ONE WAS TO TOUCH MY PRECIOUS LEFTOVERS. 


Tank competed in something called Mr. 'South' High School the end of March. (More to follow) It coincided with him being on the homecoming court (moved from the fall to the spring). It also happened to be in the middle of when he needed to complete applications for several scholarships that he was applying for. 

I became his personal secretary. My tasks included:  ordering a very unique outfit on FB marketplace, buying shoes to be worn during the talent portion, proofreading and rewording essays for scholarships, helping him identify music for his entrance while donning the very unique outfit, arranging lessons with Curly for his 'talent' segment, weighing in on the wording of his intro for the Mr. Contest-had to be funny and not wordy - me, wordy?, reminding him of scholarships dates, and helping him choose three words that describe him for the Homecoming court (none of which could be normal words like humorous, he was looking for words like buoyant and mathematically-challenged).

March was exhausting despite not having the usual Irish dancing shows to race off to. We survived and had some very entertaining exchanges along the way, like when I made him read parts of his essays out loud. "How is that a sentence?" 

Last week we attended the awards ceremony. Tank won 5 scholarships. One was for $5,000 for a student with financial need who demonstrates grit, perseverance, and a will to succeed. He raked in $8,650 total. 

My dad favors smart kids (eye roll). I'm no dummy, but it was tough growing up sandwiched between my folks' two most brilliant children (and my folks aren't afraid to share who they count as brilliant). Tank won more money than his very academic brother a few years ago. He's going places, preferably without my pen, my M & M's, and my leftovers.