August 30, 2021

my 1st-day-of-school happy dance (and in case that bores you or freaks you out - a movie I love)

Here we are. The first day of school. The story behind my slightly-more-excited-than-average excitement in this video will become clearer SOON, but suffice it to say . . . I NEEDED this day. It's a BEAUTIFUL DAY.

It just so happens that the first day of school landed on a Thursday this year  - when I also have no babysitting obligations. 

That's right. A day to myself. To dance in my kitchen, if I felt so inclined. This video is bound to register high on the cringeworthy scale, but sharing it anyway. What can I say? I'm feeling FREE. 

I went for a run. Ran into a friend and stopped halfway though my run to get caught up. WITHOUT A CARE for what time it was. I came home and did a 30 minute strength class in my family room minus any hecklers. In a bit, I'm meeting my good friend, Delilah, for lunch. And I'm writing. Look at me? 

Laundry and dinner prep be damned. *Well, if I'm being honest, I started a crockpot for chicken tacos early this morning and I did throw a load in when I was upstairs a few minutes ago. Still, I will sort nothing and I will unload nothing. NONE OF THE CHILDREN UNLOADED A SINGLE ITEM FROM THE DISHWASHER AND I REFUSE TO TOUCH IT. "Hi, hope your first day was great. Please empty the silverware." That's how I will handle the 3:00 conversation. 

The fun will continue later tonight when I attend my college book club. This marks the 3rd time we will meet in person since 'everything.' We read a book called MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE, by:  Lori Gottlieb. I give it two thumbs up, and I don't think it's just because I'm someone who should (and does) talk to someone. I really liked it.

Speaking of two thumbs up, while we were in Michigan we watched a movie that we REALLY enjoyed. It was a comical thriller. After watching it, I've decided that this is my new favorite movie category. It wasn't inappropriate, so the kids got the OK. 

Fun fact:  once Coach goes to bed - and he goes to bed early several nights because of his early morning work schedule, I tend to be much more lenient about what movies we watch. Swearing? Aw, who cares. I swear like a sailor and look how good you all turned out. Sex ? - well, this is why God created the fast forward button . . . I mean so long as I'm not holding the remote. The older boys have not yet recovered from the night when I unintentionally flubbed the remote and froze MEET THE MILLERS mid-scene when Jennifer Aniston was doing her pole dance. Oops. 

We started watching the movie in Michigan, but it was late and Coach and I were falling asleep. Shock. The kids and I finished watching it after we got home on one of the nights Coach was off to bed early. I look forward to viewing the 2nd half again with him, at some point. 

Choosing a movie when we are ALL together is possibly more of a chore than you might realize. I often scold the kids for not looking stuff up during the day and coming to the movie watching space with a prepared top 10 list. They have phones at their fingertips. Teens know more about how to conduct a search of top rated stuff better than anyone, am I right?

The process:  teens and Coach and I start scrolling. Titles get called out for approval. If no one objects, someone does a Rotten Tomatoes search. Inevitably someone groans. NO, THIS MOVIE SUCKS. Or, we decide on a movie and someone says I JUST WATCHED THAT LAST WEEK. I MEAN I'LL WATCH IT AGAIN IF YOU REALLY WANT TOO. So we sometimes waste a solid hour mulling over what to watch.  

This particular night, I scrolled and my search of BEST MOVIES ON NETFLIX ended with this movie title. The night before when the search went on forever I hadn't participated in the scrolling and now I hailed myself as a PRO MOIVE FINDER. ALL BOW TO ME. I'M IN CHARGE OF CHOOSING MOVIES FOREVER. These words may or may not have been spoken as I may or may not have gloated about my super powers. 

The movie (drum roll) is called: 

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore.

Mini compared it to Napoleon Dynamite as far as quirky characters and being offbeat, but definitely more grown up than Napoleon's movie. 

Best movies you've seen lately? Even if it isn't a comedy thriller. What makes you do a happy dance in your kitchen?  And how do you and your people choose movies? 

August 25, 2021

working my fingers to the bone, almost literally

I'm on a mission. Curly has an Irish dancing school jacket with the school's name across the back. Every time she goes to a big competition she gets a patch. Organized dance moms promptly sew these patches (or hire someone to attach them) on the back of their kid's jacket. 

Me:  (stands to the side, hands behind back, whistling, looking towards the sky, tracing an arc with her toe . . . finally faces my readers who are glancing at me with a look of disbelief . . .) 'I was busy, damn it'.

The older kids didn't dance in as many 'big' competitions - typically one a year versus Curly's three a year. We have some patches from the older guys' dancing days. We often have 3 or more copies of the early-day patches, because I had several dancers at once. 

If you ever want to see a frazzled woman:  follow a dance mom of 5 dancers around a HUGE venue trying to get each kid to the appropriate stage by herself. Nightmare. I once put Curly's number on Reg. Oops. I could go on and on with my stage-side mishaps.

Anyway, I have a drawer in my laundry room that held the patches. I never sewed patches on a jacket . . . Ed started dancing in 2008. Maybe I was waiting for the kids to grow so I didn't have to move all of the patches from a small jacket to a big jacket following a growth spurt. Maybe I was waiting because I thought we might change schools (we are on our 3rd and final school). Maybe I just didn't bother.

Translation:  I wasn't the crazy dance mom that I am now. There, I said it. Happy?

So, I have a ton of patches from the early years. Curly was still in diapers. I asked her if she wanted me to sew the unused sibling patches on her jacket too. 

"It'd look as if you started competing as a prodigy at the age of 2 or 3." 

She declined. 

I may or may not  be considering sewing the extra patches, even those in triplicate, on a jacket for myself just to show off my 'been-doing-this-longer-than-most-of-you' status. Please feel free to weigh in on how ultra-cool you think that might be. And if we're going there, we may as well envision me cutting up the dancing dresses that hang in my closet. They cost a small fortune but I haven't been able to resell because of constant changing fads (blood pressure rising rapidly). What'd ya say I use the cut up pieces of now-outta-date-dresses to fashion a fancy long trench coat for myself. Can you see it "Ernie and her amazing Celtic technicolor coat"?

Anyway, I lined up Curly's patches. Pinned them in place. Re-pinned them if I didn't like the spacing. Allowed room for other patches from upcoming competitions that we aren't sure are going to happen - even though I hope that she retires soon, early retirement will now leave the patches all lopsided. Trying not to get obsessive, but this is a work of art. It's tough to plan for other patches when we just don't know how many patches she'll end up with due to pandemic AND as-of- yet unspecified retirement. 

Then I gave my brain a break and started sewing. 

You know what's fun? Trying to jam a needle through an embroidered patch. Yes, I'm using a thimble to complete the grandma persona I've previously painted for all of you. Still, not an easy thing. Then I try to reach under the jacket to find the needle stab myself with the needle as it comes back through. In this 'feeling-for-the-needle' mode, I inadvertently run my hand across the protruding pins from the other positioned patches. 

Have I told you about my incredibly low threshold for pain? It's a thing. Not sure if there is a label for my 'condition' other than wussy. 

If anyone needs to test that I am indeed O negative, come over. I'm leaking bloody droplets all over the place. 

But damn, isn't her jacket fabulous? 

I think Mini still has girl scout patches that I never sewed floating around her mudroom locker. Weird because I know how to sew. Yes, I suck. 

August 23, 2021

New phone, face recognition, and unwanted recognition

I hate getting a new phone.  Hate.  It.

My phone was acting up last summer.  It was probably 3 years old.  Come to think of it, it behaved a lot like me:  needed a charge mid-day, memory was full, covered in cracks, dull case, etc. 

So I guess I'm 3 years old in phone years.

As we all know, I hate Walmart - but that's where we get our cheap phone service so I FINALLY could take no more of the "Oops my battery died" scenarios and I dragged myself to the dreaded electronics counter at Walmart. 
 This is what our cheap ass phone
boxes look like when we
 pick one out at Walmart. 

Curly started babysitting last summer as a mother's helper.  I chose to race into Walmart on the way to her first day at Barb's house.  Barb has 6 kids (4 boys 2 girls - for real), and after covid she needed a break. Curly was going to take 5 of her kids to the park.  

I picked out a phone in record time.  Begged the young woman to help me set it up.  Am I exploiting ageism if I seek sympathy and feign (not really feigning though) a clueless nature while blaming my advanced age?  Well, it works for me. 

The clerk in the stylish blue bib, sort of set it up. "Your new phone will randomly start working sometime in the next hour, or so." 

Clean up a spill of ambiguity in isle 10.  

Like WHAT?  I need it to work now. I needed MapQuest.

My reliance on MapQuest is shameful. I used to figure out where I was going in advance, like a grown up. Now: I just use maps on my phone.  Am I alone?  

Anyway she assured me all would be dandy, which I recognize as code for "Move along clueless lady. This is Walmart. Customer Service isn't really our thing."  

I can't remember the details because a year has passed - remember, my memory is full. We got to the car and the new phone started to work, but I couldn't connect to the internet. How was I going to drive to this woman's house?  

I freaked out. Poor Curly. I accidentally have two gmail accounts. I never know which one is tied to my phone. It's silly. Probably something that can easily be fixed - by DELETING THE EXTRA ACCOUNT . . . but some things are tied to one account and some the other. Have you been here long enough to remember my freak out before we left for Scotland? My airbnb account was tied to a gmail account that I didn't even know I had. I thought my reservation was lost. Have I mentioned I have no business operating anything technological and while some of you wouldn't consider email all that complicated . . . hi, have we met?

I started driving in the general direction of where I thought the babysitting job was, and at last the phone agreed to open MapQuest. We arrived just in time.  
If I had to guess, I'd say I took this when
 I cleaned out Lad and Ed's room. Sent
it to them:  "Are you done with these phone cases?"
 This because I had no
photo to coordinate with this post.

Later, Mini squealed with delight:  "Your new phone has face recognition." She set it up so my phone can unlock itself when it sees my lovely face.

Guess what?  My face doesn't always look lovely. When I wake up well-rested and squishy, the phone refuses to trust this 'stranger.' Suspecting high treason, it makes me unlock it manually.  

I got a text message a few days later- no name attached. Just the number. I had to text back:  "Hi, who is this." Not all of my contacts transferred. Ugh.

What's your biggest issue with getting a new phone, or do you get excited about it (I assume all the people who know how to work a new phone and transfer stuff will be the excited types)? 

August 18, 2021

just an acquaintance, so what gives?

This happened a few months ago when I was still physically working out in the health club. It's still a riddle (the situation, not the club's 'must wear a mask' rule). More evidence that people are weird.

I ran into someone who was not in my phone contacts.  Translation:  we are acquaintances. That is all.  

I did a strenuous strength class at 5:45 am.  Then I hopped on a stationary bike.  I had time to get about 5 miles in before I needed to be home to welcome the babies/tots.

Every other bike was available, so the in between bikes had a 'DO NOT USE' sign on them due to the pandemic.  I love to socialize, but when I'm in a time crunch, sweaty, smelly, weary, and anxious to get home to my protein shake, I'm not chatty.  

I pulled my book, my readers, and my phone out of my bag. Adjusted the seat. Put my favorite news on the attached TV. Removed my mask and got started.  

There was a man on the bike to my left (as in TWO bikes to my left, social distancing and all).  As I rode along, I heard another member who was walking by greet the man on the bike.  Hearing his response, I realized that I recognized his voice. I knew him AS AN ACQUAINTANCE.  I glanced his way. He said, "Hello Ernie."  I said, "Hello Joe."  

When Joe was done a few minutes later, he called my name.  I was deep in my book so I jerked my head up and looked his way, my eyebrows raised in a "Are you talking to me?" kind of way.

Joe:  (gruffly) I think I've done something to upset you, and I'm sorry.  Have a great day.

Me:  (almost falling off of my bike, because had I heard him correctly?)  Excuse me?

He repeated himself.  I tried to defend myself, but with what?  And why?  

Me:  Um, just riding my bike here.  You didn't . . . um, huh?  (I don't even know what I said, I'm not good at speaking while working out.  How do fitness instructors manage? Plus what was he even talking about?).

Perhaps he assumed that I noticed him on the bike before I sat down. If that's the case, I suppose he found it rude of me to pass him and not greet him.  But I approached the bike from behind. One balding man's wide back looks the same as others (I'M NOT WRONG), so I didn't identify him as someone I sort of know.  

I met Joe in November 2019 at an away high school basketball game. Even though we didn't have a kid on the team, Coach and I and the kids went to cheer for the team. Joe sat near us and started talking to us. Turns out he is from the south side of Chicago.  There's a thing in these parts called 'South Side Irish.' There are lots of Irish on the south side, and they all know each other. Most are related to each other. 

Anyway, Joe told us that he went to the same south side high school as my south side cousins. He graduated with my older cousin, Tim AND he knew him. 

Sort of unrelated photo, but this popped
up in my photos when I did a search for 'work out'.
I don't think they sell this type of 80s workout
clothing anymore. This woman's attire stunned me.
Wild, especially since despite my Irish bloodlines I do not have a big extended family (8 cousins total). I only have 3 local cousins. THREE. And this guy knew one of them. If you aren't from these parts, believe me . . .  I live in the 'burbs. This was a total small world thing.   

Joe cantors at our parish, and he works out at the same health club as us. But I have NOT crossed paths with him all through the pandemic. He acted as if we had a standing coffee date that I'd blown off for months.  

Again, same woman.
I am careful to pretend
 I am checking my texts and then
 I snap a photo on the sly.
 The instructor (on the left)
 told me after
 class that she thought it was a
joke. She was waiting for
someone to
bust a gut laughing.
We've seen him singing at mass these last few months since church opened.  Did he expect me to approach him after mass and chat with him?  

Bottom line here is that this was weird. So weird.  

I shared the story later with my family.  Well, they had a field day AFTER they stopped chortling. 

"Oh, you definitely give off an unfriendly vibe."  

"This is how things started with Mary Ann."  

"You've got a reputation now."  

"Wow, what did you do to him?"

Coach sees Joe at a men's group at church. I told him to tell this guy that he didn't do anything to upset me and ask him what his ef-ing deal is. (I mean he can toss in a BLESS YOU, BROTHER if he wants to keep the church group vibe alive here). Can you believe Coach has not defended my honor? I'm friendly, DAMN IT. I make friends in the grocery check out line. 

Have you ticked someone off and never found out why? Do you know where one can buy workout attire from the Jane Fonda era? Are you a sneaky freak like me, taking photos of unsuspecting people? And if so, do you get away with it, or have you been caught?

August 16, 2021

black sheep: my first bikini wax

I was so happy (a few months ago - I kept pushing this post aside when new interesting stuff like fire alarms and save-the-day hair people popped into our lives) when summer finally approached, I remember all too well the events as I prepared for another season at the pool . . .  back in 2003.

Everybody does it, right? That was my thought when I finally picked up the phone to schedule 'the' appointment. After years of dealing with my bikini line, I finally got up my nerve to take care of it. At this point in my life, I had given birth three or four times, so how hard could it be to get waxed?

I longed for the freedom of pulling on a bathing suit and not worrying about whether or not there was any growth, stubble, or even worse red shaving bumps. No more itching as it grew back. No more adjusting to make sure everything was tucked and tamed.

Ah, let the summer relaxation at the side of the pool begin . . . of course, having those little tots in tow meant very little relaxing. Instead I'd be constantly checking swim diapers to avoid the dreaded spillage, reapplying sunscreen to chubby limbs, and keeping a watchful eye to be sure no one stayed under too long. But chatting with other moms and soaking up the sun's rays was enough of a respite for me.

Being on a budget, I shopped around. Since I was new to the bikini wax market, I had no idea how much I should expect to invest in a wax job. I was still uncomfortable talking about the process in polite company, so I couldn't rely on recommendations from friends. I called around and inquired about pricing at a few places that I'd looked up in the yellow pages. Remember yellow pages?

Finally, I scheduled myself at 'The Hair Garden.' It won my business because it was the cheapest place around. I honestly don't even remember how much it cost.

It wasn't until I arrived that I realized that 'The Hair Garden' was a beauty salon catering to a clientele that was primarily of East Indian descent. This shouldn't matter. I believe hair down there grows the same on everyone, so I pressed onward in my adventure. 

I was led into a back room. The chatter among customers flowed in a foreign tongue, so I had no idea if the other patrons were chuckling about how nervous or out of place I looked or if they were just carrying on regular conversation. I reminded myself that this would all be over soon and I'd be chuckling about it long distance with my good friend, Fozzy.

Laying on a table, I bared my own 'hair garden'. The dingy ceiling tiles, and the flickering fluorescent light completed the Frankenstein-like, lab atmosphere. Where the Hell was I, and what was I doing? 

The professional warned me that the wax would be warm, and that I would feel some pain. Damn! That was no joke. She repeated the process a few times before proudly announcing that the job was done.

I barely remember paying. Everything else is fuzzy (no pun intended). I half cried, half laughed during the short ride home. 

I don't think I applied any ointment or other soothing treatment before I reached for the phone and called Foz. I described my ordeal in great detail. We laughed and chuckled at the awkwardness of it all. Then Fozzy asked an important question, "Was it worth it?" That's when I examined the condition of my screaming skin. 

Ironically the worst of the de-weeding was about to be realized. When comparing prices, perhaps I should've inquired about technique or success rate (I wasn't aware that a bikini wax could be unsuccessful). Upon inspection, I was shocked because I had been serviced with an 'incomplete' bikini wax.

There were entire areas that remained intact. How difficult is it to 'get it all'?  I promise I'm not some kind of amazon woman with hair growth rivaling that of Chewbacca. What good is an incomplete bikini wax?

(compliments:  You Tube)
I feel ya, Steve.

After all that, I was still forced to deal with the renegade strips of hair that apparently avoided the less than thorough efforts of Ms. Hair Garden. I would certainly not recommend her for employee of the month. How dare she botch this, when every ounce of my courage was summoned for this particular endeavor! 

For many years following this attempt, I spent summers sporting swim suits that shroud my bikini line in a skirt rather than 'woman up'. Rather than repeating the icky process all over again, I accepted the reality that I had an area where the sun doesn't shine. On the flip side, Fozzy and I only had to mention the name of, 'The Hair Garden' in order to enjoy a good hearty laugh. 

I decided about 5 years ago, that I COULD face this dreaded task again. I was an adult, after all. This time I asked around. So now I know a place. I schedule it the end of May and try not to think about it. I haven't had an unsuccessful job since that first time. I dream of electrolysis.

I wish I had a video of my sisters' reaction when I told them I got a bikini wax. They were appalled. Disgusted. Who would consider such a personal-space violation? 

Yep, I'm the black sheep of the family, and given the subject matter, well . . . it fits.


August 11, 2021

Why Southwest, why? Plus making friends in the cab

I didn't rent a car in Omaha for Tank's orientation, partly because the hotel had a free shuttle for the airport and the college. When I called to ask about where to find the shuttle once I landed, I got:  OH, WE AREN'T RUNNING THE SHUTTLE RIGHT NOW DUE TO STAFFING ISSUES. I still opted not to rent a car. 

Tuesday morning, I asked the cab driver who drove us to the college, if he'd be willing to meet us at the college at 2:15 to take us to the airport. He agreed, and I asked him for his cell number just in case our plans changed. 

Tank finished registering for classes and a moment later I got a text from Southwest:  


 I'm sorry, what the what? 

My new mom-from-home friend had asked me earlier if my flight was OK. She'd heard that Southwest was having 3rd party weather system problems. All day my flight showed 'on time.' 

I called my cabbie guy, Hamid. He agreed to pick us up in 10 minutes. I had no intention of staying another day. I told Tank if they couldn't get us on another flight, I'd rent a car and we'd drive the 6.5 hours home. 

Tank had chatted with Hamid that morning. We'd learned that he was from Morocco. When you're with Tank, you meet people. On our drive to the airport, Hamid continued the conversation. He gave Tank some life advice in his very thick accent. "Listen to  your mother. You hear me now, what I say to you. So, you know. Right?" 

He was a character and we enjoyed our short ride with him. As we approached the airport he said, "You going to school here, then? Yes, great. You keep my number. You call me. I want you come to the house. Have a bite. With me and my family. Why not? Sure, you do that. It'll be great." 

We got to the airport and told Hamid that we'd call him next time. I have no doubt in my mind that Tank will end up at a barbeque in Hamid's backyard. 

While Tank waited in  the mile long line at Southwest, I ran over and asked United if they had a flight to Chicago with seats available. I bought two tickets for Tank and I for $175 a piece. I was relieved it wasn't $500 each. They made us pay to check  my carry-on. Another $35. I emailed Southwest the next day, but I haven't heard back yet. I hope they'll pay for our tickets. 

*Editing to add, Southwest emailed back:  HERE'S $200 LUV POINTS, or whatever. They think they're gonna give me a gift card worth less than what I paid for my original tickets? Not over. 

As we were heading through security, I got another text from Southwest. GOOD NEWS, WE'VE BOOKED YOU ON ANOTHER FLIGHT. YOU DEPART THURSDAY AT 7:30 AM. 

I laughed. I had three kids getting a 2nd vaccine shot the next morning. Things to do. This flight took off a little later than our original, but I was so grateful that we managed to get home. 

While we waited for our flight, I got another text. It was Hamid checking that I'd gotten my flight sorted out. How sweet is that?

August 9, 2021

Rarely at a loss for words . . . even now, as it happens

This blog rarely finds me at a loss for words . . . but here I am. So much going on, I don't quite know where to begin. I had a post ready to go for today. I scheduled something knowing life was going to kick up a notch. That post didn't cover how ramped up everything is at the moment, so I decided to start fresh. Part of the reason for being so busy is a long story that I'm drafting in bits and pieces. It will pop up here eventually.

Fun fact about me:  I don't like to start a story and leave it unfinished. If I'm at a social gathering and I go off on a tangent (who me?) or get interrupted (the nerve), I struggle if I can't get back to my original thread. When it dawns on me later, I think OH SHOOT, I NEVER FINISHED TELLING THE REST OF (insert really important tale here). So the story I'm working on will be shared once I have all of it ready to go. Get excited.

Last week I finished my grad video for Tank, not without the usual hiccups and nightmarish moments. The movie is so long. What can I say, Tank is hard to recap in under 30 minutes. I realized one night when I was almost done that every time I cut and paste a video clip and dragged it to another part of the movie, that I inadvertently deleted whatever clips were near the spot where I pasted the clip.  I refused to panic, but went back thru my clips and re-entered them. *Initially I dragged the clips, but cutting and pasting was so much faster - um, editing fail. 

While sleep is one of my favorite things, it was sadly not a priority last week.

First there were the late nights spent 'fixing' the movie, once till 1 am and my internal clock wakes me at 6 am. Of course my movie drama happened while Mini was away at Young Life camp so she couldn't help me. Sigh. But, it all turned out. I decided to let myself off the hook. Left the movie in it's intended natural state of a whopping 45 minutes. The end result might be crazy long, but it included iconic moments that I couldn't bare to leave on the cutting room floor. 

This bit made it into the video. Mini and I 
were dying laughing when we stumbled upon it.



So . . . that late night was spent trolling Amazon till we had ordered an extra pair of sneakers. Shower shoes. Fake rubbery Birkenstocks. Ed bought a pair at CVS for a few bucks his first weekend away at college and he loves them. He sold Tank on the idea. Those cheap shoes come in unisex sizes. Translation:  they only go up to a  men's size 12 or 13, but all 13s were sold out. You know that Tank wears a size 15, right? 

All this while I cleaned the house for the Aug 7th grad party. By clean, I mean seriously organize loads of STUFF and REALLY clean the areas that are apparently easy to ignore on the regular. I had so many lists to remind me what needed to be done - not the least of which was the groceries. I bought mountains of food:  5 lbs of Italian Beef to throw in crockpots and then everything needed to whip up 10 lbs of baked mostaccioli, a full crock pot of sweet and sour green beans, and I doubled the always popular 7 layer taco dip. I let myself off the hook and ordered three of the amazing Portillos chopped salads, and a cake from Costco. I thawed dozens of my chocolate chip cookies and hired my niece to make a surprise 'special' cake featuring Tank's college mascot. 

The party was Saturday. All went well. Lots of people we invited couldn't come, which was a true bummer. Weather was a little sticky, as in hotter than hell, but no rain. We were worried people would flock inside and we'd need to enlist the service of the basement where we currently have an unidentified AWFUL smell that we cannot tame. The plumber came by and assured us it is not a sewage issue. Interesting because the stench says otherwise. Remember the dropped milk gallon on the stairs? Could that be coming back to haunt us? That was 6 months ago and we've had no issues since our dedicated clean up. Hmm. 

When not pondering gag-a-maggot smells and just how much food is necessary to feed a smallish crowd, I asked Coach if he'd consider fixing the Great White up since we are having a heck of a time finding a replacement. 

He's not interested in fixing 'er up, which I get, but we drive Tank to college on Friday the 13th and we'd like to drive a newer version of the Great White. We have no idea when a gently used, former airport shuttle will become available. Lad came home from work just before the party and told me that they found a possible car for us, but it said DAVE'S PLUMBING on the side. Desperate times, I'm not opposed. 

Sunday, the day after the party, we packed up all the vacation food I'd organized while preparing for the party (some of which I stored in my folks' fridge so I could make room for 8 small trays of pasta), the leftover trays of pasta, and a bunch of other crap and woke up the teenage crew and drove to Michigan for a three day vacation at a rented house near Lake Michigan.  

We return Wednesday and then spend Thursday packing before we make the college drop off with Tank on Friday. And there you have it - not exactly a loss for words, but busier than all get out. Have I mentioned that I'm exhausted? 

August 4, 2021

feeling disoriented about orientation

credit:  GIPHY
Tank had orientation in Omaha a few weeks ago. We had to sign up in early May. He was hesitant to commit. Because of covid, high school volleyball season started late and finished late. He didn't want to miss playoffs. 

I kept checking the link and the four available sessions were all still green the day after they opened. Later that day, Tank agreed to let me register him. In hindsight:  I wish I'd signed him up and then cancelled later if we couldn't go. 

I booked our flights. Then I pulled up the calendar on the college website where the dates were all still green - as in available. I clicked on the first dates that we'd decided on:  June 7th/8th. 

The website alerted me that the in-person orientation was full for those dates, only virtual was left. WHAT? Then how about you don't have the calendar date highlighted in green for AVAILABLE on the previous page. I decided not to panic. Surly the school would make space for us, we'd just booked flights and the green/available message was VERY misleading.

No cigar. They put us on the waiting list for the 7th and for the 14th. I signed him up for a session on a Thursday/Friday the following week that still had in-person availability. It'd be much harder for me to be away those days though. 

*The school changed the website shortly after I called so that the initial page let you know whether or not in-person was closed.

I booked lots of flights. Two on Southwest, knowing if I cancelled I could get a credit for Tank to use sometime in the next year. The rest were using frequent flyer miles which could be put back if I cancelled. On the counter, I kept a hand drawn grid at my fingertips so I'd remember what needed to be canceled. I love things that are simple.  

We got off the waiting list and ended up attending on the 14th, a Monday. No one caddies, so less chaos. Plus we were gone on a Tuesday when Coach is fairly flexible. Our flight out there cost a ton of miles. *sobs softly* Apparently Omaha was hosting Olympic swim trials. Maybe that drove the price of flights up? Hotel rooms were pricey too. Our flights home were the cheapest I'd bought - on Southwest, so that was a bonus. Or so I thought (my next post will reveal how we actually got home). 

Orientation itself went well. Minutes after we arrived, I walked past a woman who looked so familiar. 

Me:  Tank, I think that woman works out in the same classes at the health club. 

When she walked by, I stopped her. It took her a minute to recognize me without a baseball hat. She was like: HEY! We didn't really know each other, but we do now. She lives a distance from the health club, so our sons went to different high schools. 

At these events, they whisk away the students. It was nice to have a buddy to hang out with and attend the various presentations with. I felt a tad guilty for not trying to meet other parents. Reminder:  I've met other parents at orientations and I never saw them again. This is my 3rd orientation and  my fav. They did a great job of delivering the information. Shockingly not boring.

Part way through the director of housing's presentation (that we both attended but weren't sitting together), Tank texted me:  OMG THIS LADY REMINDS ME SO MUCH OF MINI. 

The woman was very animated. She was trying to sell everyone on buying linens from the school to fund special programs. "I still remember the color scheme my roommate and I agreed on: Lime/coral."  This was followed by a sort of snort laugh. 

The few days away were fun. Before we left to go to Omaha, while we were waiting for our plane, Tank shared a text he'd gotten from Coach. Photo of Coach chilling on the deck. He's wearing Tank's slides and drinking from the tumbler the high school gave Tank at graduation. 


Well played, Coach.  

August 2, 2021

Curly survives the 'mom funny face' challenge in public

I scheduled my haircut with the woman who just consulted with Curly and asked if she had any product suggestions for me. I like my current hair stylist, but I was ready to see if someone else had a different approach. 

*Anyone else try this and feel guilty for 'cheating' on your current hair stylist.*

I like the haircut Curly Girl method lady gave me - my hair is now a million lengths which helps hide the thinning issues and gives it some fullness and more body.

I was looking for a photo of my hair pre-haircut. My hair here:  lifeless. I assume you won't soon tire of this photo. 

Remember when I was mistakenly panicked thinking it was time to pick up Curly? Well, I wasn't focused on the products the stylist was suggesting. She promised to email me what to buy, but I knew from Curly's experience that her email might not arrive for weeks. I swore she'd suggested a spray gel or a foam from Mario Tricoci. 

A few days later when Curly and I ran to Mario Tricoci. I was hoping the mystery product would be obvious to me. 

For starters the stylist said this bottle was around $7. Anyone been to a Mario Tricoci lately? They practically charge you $7 for a friendly greeting. No product there was remotely in the $7 range. Curly and I stared at the products on the first floor. Nothing jumped out at us. There was an escalator to the 2nd floor, so we thought MUST BE UP THERE. 

Upstairs, someone asked if we needed help. I told them my stylist had recommended a product here. I enjoyed asking them about this product whose-name-shall-remain-a-mystery. Guessing games are fun, especially in a high end salon where everyone has perfect hair. Stand out much? 

An in-charge type guy named Michael approached:  HI, I'M LOOKING FOR A BOTTLE OF $7 PRODUCT. 

I explained to Michael that the woman who just started cutting my hair recommended something like a spray on gel for my hair type. In my usual fashion, I gave too much information.

Me:  The woman is gonna email me names of the products but I haven't received it yet. She gave my daughter some great advice for her curly hair, so I thought we'd stop by in case I recognized the bottle she suggested.

Michael took this as his cue to give Curly tips. Even though she's all set. No amount of subliminal messages and hand pointing at my icky hair could convince him to focus on me. 

He walked us around. Pointed at bottles. Urged me to take a photo of said bottles for Curly's hair (nevermind I'd bought 12 bottles of pricey stuff some of which a brother might eat).

He took us back downstairs. I was cracking up, wishing we were followed by a camera because his focus on Curly's hair was intense. The hair we WEREN'T shopping for. She was wearing a braid, but the excessive curly bits sticking out at the end spoke to him. 

Addressing Curly, even though I WAS SHOPPING FOR PRODUCT, he grabbed a bit of my hair and demonstrated.

Michael:  You can twist two pieces of your hair (meaning Curly's)  together to get a big fat curl. Or you can try this. (continues to mess with my mousy, flimsy, weak-ass hair).

While he played Barbie-head with my hair, I sent Curly Morris Code messages with my eyelids that Michael couldn't see. 


My hair product hunt might've been unsuccessful, but I was able to test Curly in  the ever-important lesson of:  CAN YOU KEEP FROM LAUGHING IN PUBLIC WHEN I'M MAKING CRAZY BLINKY FACES AT YOU?

Maeve passed with flying colors, hiding her tiny giggle-bursts with a nod that said:  OH, GREAT IDEA. HMM. 

Took this photo from my laptop - cuz I'm
super tired and it's past my bedtime.
Before we bought the $26 product that Michael selected for me, that claimed no benefits for thin hair or enhancing body, he asked me which location my stylist was from. AWKWARD as she's not FROM Tricoci. I never said she was. Honestly, he was very nice and encouraged us to come back with any questions.  

The jury is out on my new product, which was expensive - but our laugh on the way home was priceless. *Editing to add:  I actually love the product. It's called 3 P 1 and it's like 3 products in one, just as it promises. 

Favorite hair product or hair stylist switching story? Did you own a Barbie-head hair style toy as a kid? If so, I'm jealous.