December 30, 2021

blue light speical, Initiative day, boosted, & IT'S MY B-DAY!

You're in luck . . . I've started a new book that I really like. THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS. It's VERY long and I hope to finish it by my next book club meeting, but I stand very little chance. So . . . I'm going to make this short and sweet so I can get some reading done. *editing to add:  OK, THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN, BUT IT'S MY BIRTHDAY AND I'LL WRITE A NON-SHORT POST IF I WANT TO in hopes that you'll still read it. 

A few tidbits about our break thus far:

Christmas light update:  I took this photo on Christmas Eve just before Coach and I retired. 

OK, I don't really talk like that, but a sweet elderly woman emailed me after she got my parents' Christmas card. She wondered if I'd share my folks' number so she could chat with my mom at some point. She wasn't sure how late she could call because she wasn't sure what time they retired. I love that. Oh, she also asked for my mom's email address. I laughed. 

When I responded, I shared that my mom doesn't drink coffee, drink beer, get speeding tickets (proof that I'm either adopted or I take on more than my mom ever did and thus am always in a hurry), use GPS even though it is built into her car, go to the doctor, own a cell phone (and by default won't allow my dad to own one either), eat spicy food, know how to identify an avocado, touch a computer, or have an email address. But I assured her that if she sent my dad an email for my mom, he'd share it with her. Best not to hold your breath waiting for a response though. 

We won't talk about how much junk I had to move out of the way to make the above photo a true Kodak moment. 

You are looking at some of the lights that have only recently been plugged in. Remember when Lad hung our lights as if he was trying to alert the authorities that a crazy person resided in our home? Or maybe he wanted to tick off the neighbors? Let's face it - it doesn't take much. Anyway, Coach had to do some reconfiguring so we weren't clothes-lined when we exited the deck with Finn. The blue lights didn't make the grade initially. Not sure they do now either, but from this angle . . . pretty. 

When night falls, they they appear to be a pretty strange floating octagon hovering in the yard like a UFO about to land. By day they appear to be a makeshift prison as they wrap around the gazebo multiple times in zig-zag, electric line fashion. From my kitchen window though, it just looks lovely. I'll take that. 


Initiative Day:  

My favorite morning news program mentioned a Seinfeld episode that I'd never seen. Festivus. Then Nicole (hi Nicole) mentioned it too. Where have I been? Well, unbeknownst to me I copied Seinfeld writers and created my own special holiday. There are no grievances aired on my special day. Just a new approach to life. 

I call it INITIATIVE DAY. Thanks to cancel culture, I cancelled Christmas Eve and replaced it with my own self-serving holiday. I insisted that the members of the family JUST TAKE SOME INITIATIVE AND CLEAN SOMETHING OR PUT SOMETHING AWAY. 

This worked slightly, but I think they just don't see the mess. They are fine living in it. Looking back at photos from how the house was kept when they were young, I think messy surroundings make them feel comfy. Shame on me. You guys think I'm busy now? Coach worked even more hours back then (Ed and I just tallied it and we think he works about 55+ hours a week currently) and none of the youngsters could drive and few of them could bathe themselves or feed themselves. I might not sleep tonight just remembering. Survival was key. 

Because I'm raising wise-asses, the next day I asked Reg to do something  . .  



Challenge me, will you?


Boost me up Scotty:  

I didn't want to get my booster before Christmas and risk not feeling well for a whole day, or even part of a day. If I go down, the ship goes down. Since I wasn't babysitting this week, I decided to get the shot this week. Impossible to find a same day or anytime soon appointment. I made several appointments but I worried that they'd interfere with the out of state funeral I plan to attend. 

On the morning of Christmas Eve, I came across an appointment nearby. At noon. That day. I took it, but later cancelled. I didn't want to feel icky on Christmas. Eventually I found another cancellation, on the 27th. The bummer was that it was far from home. 

I went to Reg's b-ball game with Curly. We were half way there with a few hours to kill. We returned some stuff to stores and landed at the Walgreens pharmacy just in time for my shot. I had to pee BADLY, but I didn't want to lose my spot. I stood there while the young girl 'Deb' checked me in. I had my immunization card, license, and insurance card READY. 

I stood there. Deb typed. Forever. I have no idea why it took her almost 20 minutes to check me in. For all I know, she could've been sending a personal email. Strange. 

When Deb was done, I finally asked if I had a minute to run to the restroom. When I returned, . . . 

Deb turned to the pharmacist: OK, SHE'S READY FOR HER SHOT. 


Deb:  OH, CAN I DO IT? 


To my great relief, Sarah appeared and gave me the shot. Friends, IT HURT LIKE HELL. I let Sarah know this. 


Me (possibly translating her words incorrectly because I was writing in pain, but my internal dialogue said):  WAIT, DID SHE JUST SAY THESE NEEDLES AREN'T THE BEST BECAUSE THEY USED THEM YESTERDAY AND HAD TO DIG THEM OUT OF THE DUMPSTER? SWEET MOTHER, WHAT KIND OF JOINT IS THIS?

Of course that isn't what she said, but yikes Walgreens - order up some of the 'good' needles cause the 'not best' needles suck. 


And with that, I'm here as your boosted friend with a sore arm, but NO OTHER SYMPTOMS, wishing you all a Happy New Year full of peace, relaxation, good health, great memories and the ability to move about the world free of masks . . . soon (?) I thank you for reading my posts and I applaud you if you are the commenting type. 

It's my birthday, so hit me with some comments. Maybe you have a favorite post you'd like to remind me of or you have a request for a post I have yet to write (if you say shorter, I will appreciate the sentiment but not necessarily oblige . . . I'm long winded in real life too, just ask Delilah). 

I don't really feel like I properly celebrated my 50th last year, and I have no real plans to do anything extraordinary today . . .  so fingers crossed that one day we can gather at my 'Bridesmaids-esque' destination, girls-weekend-away birthday. I know that'll probably never happen, but bitches can dream on their birthday, right Kari? I'm off to try to read in bed (I'm drafting this a few days in advance), but I stayed up too late and will likely fall asleep before I get through a page. 

December 29, 2021

mystery gift: a game of chance, patio presents, elite club is over-rated, card request, & an almost b-day

Thank you all for the kind words, prayers, and thoughtful comments for my last post. Joe's daughter's baby is due any day, so they are waiting to finalize the funeral plans. Still hard to wrap my brain around.

I did make a request of Joe shortly after I found out he'd passed away. I know he's new to heaven, but I'm hoping he can use his charm and make a miracle happen for another family I know. I've not shared this yet. It has shook me to my core. I learned about it in early November and this intention is never far from my thoughts and prayers. I will share next week. One horrible-news post is all I can muster in one week. 


Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. The Shenanigan family truly had a very delightful and relaxing day filled with good food, great memories, and laugh-out-loud moments. I managed not to cry the entire day. 

Despite all of my rushing around and last minute buying, the kids were very satisfied and pleased with their gifts. Everyone accepted that Reggie had more to open. I'm happy to report that he is no longer going to be the kid at school who dresses strictly in hand-me-downs. 

Somewhere under here is a kitchen table.
 I think this was a result of dragging
 gifts to my folks' house and back. 

The department store that wraps gifts complimentary messed up. Considering what I asked of them, all if forgiven. Three of the 16 gifts for the males lost the sticky note with the recipient's name on it. This lead to a new twist on Christmas morning called:  MYSTERY GIFT. I was able to narrow it down to Reg, Ed, or Tank. I might not recommend MYSTERY GIFT to people who care that everyone gets the correct gift on Christmas morning. Otherwise, it's funny. 

We put sunscreen bottles in the 3 youngest kids' stockings, so there were some raised eyebrow looks, as in DOES THIS MEAN WHAT WE THINK IT MEANS? Those 3 are looking forward to time in the sun over spring break. 

Tank stuttered a bit, as in WAIT, WHAT'S HAPPENING AND WHY AM I NOT GOING? Um, college kids have a different spring break and you applied to attend a mission trip, 'member? After we cleared that up, there was no pouting. If I needed to, I could always say two magic words to put him in his place:  SKI TRIP. 'Member that adventure?

We ALL slept late on Christmas. I haven't babysat since Dec. 17th and guess what? I've discovered that sleeping from midnight till 8 or 8:30 am is apparently my original factory setting. I'm living my best life, in the sleep department anyway. I didn't think it was possible for me to sleep that late again. In a word:  glorious. 

The family on the patio - that speck in the
distance is Lad and Finn crossing the golf course.
Their blinds can be raised with a remote but
something broke and I thought they had
 it fixed, but alas this was our visit -
my folks continuing to ram their heads
 into the bottom of their blinds.

Since my dad is immune compromised, my side of the family didn't gather. Each family took time stopping by and standing on my folks' patio, at least I thought that was the plan . . .  We'd already picked up our gifts from them (yes, my mother shops for all 22 grandkids - each kid gets multiple gifts. Try to wrap your brain around that one), but we had each of our kids (and Coach and I) bring two gifts along when we visited. We opened them on the patio because it wasn't terribly cold out. Lad walked over with Finn who wagged his butt till it almost fell off. I think my folks enjoyed seeing us open the things they'd purchased.

Finn helps Lad open his gift.

As we were leaving, Marie showed up with her family. We drove away as they filed into my folks house. So, they'd all gotten the booster - which we weren't able to all get prior to Christmas, plus Mini was still isolating. Still, it felt crappy when they got to hang out indoors for hours (they stopped by my house after they left my folks' house to grab a god daughter gift off of my deck, so I know how long they were there) while we were stuck on the patio for 10 minutes. Hard not to slip into that mode where I feel like some people in my clan are getting elite treatment, even thought I do get that they were more germ free than my people. 

A new tradition:  patio presents -
that we hope ends this year.


Is there anything better than that sentiment? And, he's probably right. I've decided to hold onto those words like a warm hug. Lord knows my guys have their moments, but on the whole my messy, goofy, funny bunch enjoy cracking one another up and being together. As a mother, I do cherish that. 

This is BEOFRE family game started - it was
 kids learning the game while some of us were
 still prepping food and tossing out boxes and
 wrapping paper, HEY, DON'T

We played a new game Christmas evening that we really enjoyed. It's called SMART ASS. Then we brought out an old favorite:  BALDERDASH. Tank cares little about winning that game, so he works hard at creating the goofiest definitions. The 'judge' who has to read his fake definitions struggles to do so without rolling around laughing. Classic. Tank's pawn was still in the start when the game ended, but someone he felt like the winner. 

It took me longer than usual to get my Christmas cards in the mail. When the cards were done at long last, I raced back to the mall to shop for the girls. I was done shopping on the 22nd. Not exactly a record. 

*By the way, if any of my regular readers would like to receive one of my cards with my lengthy but humorous poem, please email me your address. My email is my real last name clan7 at yahoo. LMK if you need help figuring out my legit last name.* 

So much for not buying clothes. I did make
 them all commit to getting rid of old stuff
they don't want. I'll update you as improvements
 warrant, so expect never to hear about that again. 

A few days before Christmas the doorbell rang. A woman was standing on my front porch with a beautiful floral display. It was wintery and oblong with a bunch of evergreens and a candle in the center. I was SO surprised. As I reached out to take it, she said:  DELIVERY FOR MARYANN AND MARK. Oh.My.Gosh. It was for Mary Ann and her hubby. I pointed the woman in the right direction. She was so apologetic. I was like HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. 

Curly:  YOU SHOULD'VE KEPT IT.  *lest you think my kid is an ill-mannered monster, she was kidding. 

The thought of Mary Ann never having the manners to thank someone for the center piece gift because it was delivered to my house in error had me giggling . . . like a maniac.

My birthday is tomorrow, December 30th. 

(or as my friend Kari would say, IT'S MY BIRTHDAY MONTH, BITCHES . . . that just doesn't work for me though. People are too busy to entertain my birthday requests for a month).

I'm planning to post something, probably funny and short (famous last words?). I'm not gonna lie, my birthday is often glossed over. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to comment on my birthday post. It can be simple or maybe you can tell me your favorite post (from my blog - that was implied, right) or make a request for an upcoming post. If you've never left a comment, THIS is the day. Get excited. I might not respond to your comments till Friday since I'm sure my offspring will refuse to let me lift a finger - even on a keyboard. Thanks in advance.  

December 27, 2021

not what I thought I'd be sharing today

Unfortunately I received heart breaking news a few days before Christmas. On the 23rd I went to physical therapy with Coach. I got home and was laughing with the kids in the kitchen and their constant banter. I sat down and checked my email at my laptop on the island. 

I got an email from an address I didn't exactly recognize. I read the words a few times. It didn't register. It was like I was reading it, but the words weren't sinking in.

Remember my childhood friend, 'JB', who was in an accident when he was 10 years old? His older brother, Joe, and I have stayed in touch. Mini and I stayed with he and his wife in Minneapolis about 4 years ago when we were there for Irish dancing, she was trying to win a 1st place and we were criss-crossing the States. We had a great visit and shared a bunch of laughs. Joe was there when I was christened with my childhood nickname, ERNIE. Joe and I had chatted off and on over the years, but since that visit we made a point to stay in touch more regularly. 

In January of 2021 his dad passed away. He was in his early 90s. Joe emailed me letters that he found at his folks' house that my brother, Pat, and I wrote to him when he was in basic training. Pat's letter was all about how he was taking a computer class at Radio Shack with my dad and how he was getting good grades in school. My letter was a bit different - poking fun at myself, etc. 

I texted Joe and was like PAT TAKING A COMPUTER CLASS? NERD ALERT. blah, blah. We LOL'd our butts off.  

I shared some of my memories of his dad. One of them:  his dad used to call his mom MOTHER. Joe texted back:  I CALL GINA MOTHER WHEN I WANT TO ANNOY HER. He texted me that he wanted me to come visit that summer so we could get caught up. 

He got me. He grasped my family of origin dynamics. He saw the big picture, said it like it was, and enjoyed joking around with me. He was crazy about his two daughters and was over the moon that they'd both found future husbands (he walked one down the isle about a year ago) that were great men. He and Gina rode bikes - like ACROSS states. He sent me photos of scenery they stumbled across. We'd been neighbors and we shared funny memories, but now we were friends. He was in my corner. My cheerleader. He liked my spunky approach to things. 

When Yellowstone got cancelled, I asked him if he was up for visitors -remembering that he'd wanted me to come out in the summer. We were revamping our summer vacation. He said sure, then asked SO HOW MANY WOULD THAT BE? He and Gina live in a huge home - they intended to downsize and accidentally fell in love with the place and the view. They bought it and were always thrilled when the rooms were used. 

Well, how many ? - that was a loaded question. I asked him if he had a minute to chat. We talked for over an hour. I filled him in on the soon to arrive Harry and Larry. He said, BRING THE BOYS, SURE. THE MORE THE MERRIER. 

Ultimately Coach and I decided that we didn't have time to squeeze in a trip to Minnesota and we opted to just go to the beach a few hours away for a few days instead. 

About 3 years ago, Coach's former employee took his own life. Joe and Gina had Coach and Coach's work friend stay at their house when they drove in town for the funeral. There was a blizzard. It took Coach 12 hours instead of 6 to drive there. Joe texted and said TELL HIM THE FRONT DOOR IS UNLOCKED. JUST PICK A ROOM UPSTAIRS. 

This October as I was driving, Joe texted me. He and Gina had been biking out on the east coast, enjoying the fall colors. She hopped a plane to get to work and he was going to drive to Chicago and see us on Saturday. That was the weekend that we were going to see Ed at IU and tailgate. We wouldn't be home. Ugh. I was so bummed. I called him and we spoke over bluetooth. While we talked he said he was literally changing course. He'd skip Chicago. Wait till the weather was nice enough for he and Gina to bike the lake shore. He said:  I MEAN I GUESS I CAN TRY TO GIVE YOU MORE THAN 2 DAYS NOTICE KID. 

That was the last time I spoke to him. The email that I had such a hard time deciphering was from his elderly mother. Gina came home and found Joe dead on the floor of his office the day before. An apparent heart attack. 

He was 57. Perfect health. Rode bikes. Worked out. Just retired last year from the air force and would've had regular physicals. I'm in disbelief. So hard to wrap my brain around it. When I called my folks and my siblings, everyone assumed that I was trying to say that JB died- the younger brother who is not in the best of health, not JOE! How could Joe die suddenly? 

My kids hovered around the island while I sobbed uncontrollably. I paced and sobbed. Called Coach at work and sobbed. Called Delilah like an hour later when I thought I was calm, and sobbed. When Coach got home from work, I sobbed again. 

I told the kids at least he got to meet his grandbaby, as I sniffled. His daughter was due with a baby around Dec. 1st, I thought. Still, that ticked me off. He should be here to watch the baby grow up. He was SO YOUNG. NOOOO. THIS ISN'T HAPPENING. 

Me and Joe. 9/24/17

I walked to my folks' house on Christmas Eve. My mom told me that they'd called Joe's mom that morning. His daughter had not had her baby yet. I sobbed some more. I must've had the due date wrong. The other daughter is engaged, not yet married. More tears. He should be here. This is all wrong. 

When Mini didn't win a 1st, Joe
 took her to his chipper out back. He
told her this was a great way to get
 rid of her frustrations. He had her
 feed some branches into the chipper.
Mini remembers it so well. Joe:  THERE,

Christmas Eve mass I was super emotional. I broke down again this morning when Marie emailed me his obituary. It says he was a story teller and he never let the truth get in the way of a good story . It also talked about his love of life and living life to the fullest and how he was charitable. It reminded me:  he contributed to my kids' Global Humanitarian Club last year after I posted it on Facebook. 

I don't know yet when the services are going to be held, but I hope to go - even if I have to pull Mini and Curly out of school to babysit in my absence. Marie also wants to go. 

I'm so sad for Joe's family, especially Gina and his girls. I also feel like I've lost the last chunk of my childhood. There are other brothers (there were 5 total), but I've not kept in touch with them. Maybe we will reconnect. Still, nothing will replace him. 

December 22, 2021

dealing with positive, me and my 16, & overshare queen

I drafted this BEFORE Mini was positive for covid:  

Lots to do, particularly since we aren't planning to go to Budapest anymore. I need to shop.

The tree is still in the garage. Curly's birthday is the 19th. Tank is still waiting for me to whip up his requested birthday dinner. Gifts need to be decided on, bought, ordered. Something. I might get Curly a season pass to Great America, one of her BFFs has a season pass so she'd have a buddy to go with.

Unrelated, but hey - I know there
 are staffing issues, bur really
Culvers? Turtles?
 You're hiring turtles?

I tried to get Christmas shopping done Wednesday night. Operative word:  tried.

After dropping Curly at dancing, I drove to Dick's Sporting Goods. I had to return Reg's b-ball shoes. Note:  he isn't buying a pair because someone called his shoes BROKE-ASS, but those shoes are a year old and he needs a new pair. He bought these the week before, wore them a bit during practice, and didn't like them. After I parked, I noted that I was incredibly dizzy. I sat making a list. It didn't get any better, the dizziness that is . . . clearly the Christmas shopping doesn't get any better until after you've actually put a dent in it. 

I went in the store. Asked an employee to find the pair of shoes Reg wanted to swap out. He went in the back and grabbed them. I bent over to look through a display of basketball socks and almost fell over. When I shared this with Tank, I told him that I worried someone would think I was drunk. He died laughing. I've had a very hard time finding Elite basketball socks for my 3 b-ball players. Finding them didn't make me almost fall over, it was the dizzy head thing. While bent over, I gathered as many as I could in the right sizes. I was having a hard time balancing. 

By balancing, I mean me not falling over. But since I bought over $275 worth of Elite b-ball socks, um . . . I guess I was also struggling to balance the importance of good socks with other essential items for our family, like food. 

I made it through the checkout, got in my car, and aborted my plan to go to my fav department store, Von Maur. I credit my allergy shots for the dizziness, usually I just get tired. I'd gotten my shots in the afternoon - just before my YOU-HAVE-HIGH-CHOLESTEROL physical. 

Is it me? anyone else struggle to say 'physical' without  humming, LET'S GET PHYSICAL, PHYSICAL? 


The pressure is sort of off. I want to get the gifts that I need, but I had to cancel my Mon-Wed babysitting jobs, no income for me. Ouch. Without babysitting, how can I afford the socks I bought? I have more free time though. Um, when I cancelled my sitting, I happened to look at the calendar. I've been thinking that I was sitting through the 23rd, but Wed is only the 22nd - so it's like I found a day. Also, we can make the tots' ornaments that we gift them each year whenever, since we won't be seeing them before Christmas. 

Per the doc, the rest of the family doesn't have to isolate since we'd been vaccinated, unless we get symptoms. So I hit the mall HARD . . .  in case I go down. I was in race-the-clock mode, more than usual. 

Ed asked me to help him shop for his girlfriend. He thought jewelry. Smart guy. I suggested Von Maur. Of course. 

Curly had plans to see the Spiderman movie at a mall down the street from the mall I was going to. The girl she was going with said she'd still go even though Curly's sis now had covid. Long and boring, but meeting up with this girl (who isn't one of Curly's close friends, but a girl who digs Marvel) was more of a headache than Mini was experiencing from covid. Ridiculous. Once I realized that her high school age brother was dropping her off, the confusion became a little more clear.

It took me FOREVER to exit the mall lot after I dropped Curly with the friend, because hello Sat. before Christmas. Meanwhile in a separate car, Ed was doing me a solid, returning the NEXT pair of non broke-ass shoes at Dick's between the two malls. The employee who got them out of the back for me must've also been dealing with a dizzy spell Wed. night. Reg can order his shoes online. Good grief. 

These.Are.Some.Broke.Ass.Shoes - I snapped
 this of Reg during church. He rolled his toes
up so they weren't sticking out at the sides,
but what on earth? These are not his
b-ball shoes. His everyday shoes. Probably
 bought them in the fall. No idea what
he does to them, but when he orders his
 basketball shoes, I'm going to have
 him order some everyday guys as well. 

Ed texted me a photo of the line at Dick's. A mile long. He accidentally sent the pic 3 times. I was like:  I get it. I'm not getting to Von Maur in lightning speed anyway, please don't abort the return-shoes mission. 

Eventually we found a very delicate, feminine necklace by Coach that was on sale. I texted Mini's BFF to ask what she thought. Mini, like her mother, doesn't accessorize. Fun fact:  Mini's BFF's mom and I attended one of those jewelry parties YEARS ago at someone's house. 

I turned to her and said:  I DON'T REALLY ACCESSORIZE. 


Still makes me laugh. BFF agreed, this was a great gift. Me:  DOES THAT MEAN YOU THINK THERE IS HOPE FOR ME? 

Ed drove off and I powered through the men's department solo. I wasn't planning on getting lotsa clothes, but when I demanded that the boys organize the bedrooms that have been swapped and re-swapped out with different residents of late, I few things became clear. First of all, Reg owns hand-me-downs exclusively. He wears a   Cobra Kai hoodie that he got last year for Christmas daily. We're sick of seeing it, and I'm tired of begging him to let me wash it. 

He told me that he has no other hoodies. How? There are days when I believe that our house is nothing more than a hoodie storage facility. With two boys home from college, I asked them to give Reg any hoodies that no longer fit, etc. Reg scored some nice stuff from Ed. Nothing ratty. I decided:  REG NEEDS HIS OWN THREADS. 

Ed approached me with a quarter zip, workout jacket during the room cleaning. It was time to retire it. As he showed me the holes in it, he pointed out that he'd gotten it for his 16th b-day and had worn it thousands of times. He's now 21.

So, I bought 16 gifts in the men's department for the 5 men who live here. Probably 7 of those gifts are for Red. Only one is for Coach and he'll take it back, guarantee. Only 2 for Lad because he has too many clothes anyway. He admitted the other day that we don't need to get him anything since we're letting him stay here with the dog and all. Good point, but I can't have him open nothing. I plan to wrap up a doll bed from the basement as a reminder that we gifted him with a mattress for his leaning tower, made-from-a-coffee-table bed. 

Good 'ole Von Maur boxed 'em up at the register. While she boxed, I explained:  SO WE WERE MAYBE GOING TO GO TO BUDAPEST . . . I JUST STARTED SHOPPING TODAY. She wore a big-ass smile for the commission she'd just earned as she pretended to be interested in my life story. I labeled each box with a name, and took them to be gift wrapped for free. The woman in gift wrap gulped when she saw me and my 16. 

As she jotted down my info and prepared the order, I launched into my:  SO WE WERE GONNA GO TO BUDAPEST . . . GETTING IT ALL DONE IN ONE DAY mantra.

It isn't just you that I overshare with.  

Curly was bummed that we cancelled her birthday party Sat. night. I promised to reschedule. 

More bedroom shuffling due to our covid-kid. Curly slept with me. Coach insisted he'd do fine on the floor. She could've done the basement pullout, but Finn sleeps in a crate down there. Well, I was up crazy early and didn't want to keep her up, so I snuck downstairs to share the latest with all of you. I want to share Mini's college  search with you, but as always there is some serious back story, so you can look forward to that after Christmas along with a whole list of stuff I never got around to telling you this year. 

Hope you and yours enjoy a Merry Christmas, or whatever else you might celebrate, if you're like the Shenanigans then you're mid b-day-celebrate-mode too. Wishing you all the best this season. I hope you know how much I appreciate all of you. I enjoy sharing laughs with you, and your comments and support have truly been a blessing during this challenging year.  

Enjoy. Celebrate. Relax. Stay healthy. Report back.

December 20, 2021

sentences or not, fit in or not, travel or not, get squished or not, bloodwork wrong or not, & segues galore & news

Ed texted me last week. It said I WANT TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO THANK YOU FOR TEACHING ME TO WRITE IN COMPLETE SENTENCES. He was in the middle of a huge group project and he was editing the pages one of the group members contributed. At first I thought maybe he was being sarcastic, which is the default mode for all Shenanigans, so I called him to verify what the message meant. No, he was being genuine. He said this kid could not write a sentence and he was having to fix all of his work. I puffed my chest, and then slumped as I considered that one day this will be Tank in his group work. I've tried, but good grief, Tank resists basic sentence structure. I don't know about you, but when I was a student they still insisted that we write in sentences. 

Speaking of sentences, Mini reads most of my chapters before I share them with my writing group. She is a decent critic and an energetic fan. Most of what I've written was drafted a while ago. I edit HEAVILY to get each chapter up to par before I read for the group. Well, several of my chapters have ended with a similar question, because I believe at one point I learned that a chapter should end with a question, something to compel the reader to keep on reading. It just so happens that a few, OK maybe more than a few, of my chapters have ended with a similar question:  WILL I EVER FIT IN? . . . um, I now realize that this would NOT encourage readers to see what happens next. They might instead toss my book into the nearest garbage bin. 

Friends, it is HARD for me to admit to you, who I hope will someday be excited to read my memoir and have the opportunity to read it, that I have written that sentence MORE.THAN.ONCE. I attribute it to rushing to wrap up the chapter, and getting lazy at the end of the chapter. Well, when Mini proofed the chapter I read this past week, she read those words and she will NOT let me forget it. Perhaps laboring as a professional critic is not in her future as she hurled feedback at me in the form of:  CHEESEY.  And NO YOU DIDN'T. And ARE YOU SERIOUS? You are at a loss though, because you are not able to hear her mock me in a seriously whiney voice "WILL I EV-ERRRR FIT IN? " Her pathetic facial expressions compliment the words perfectly. Needless to say, I have removed that sentence and vow to never print it again. 

Speaking of removing, I had my mammogram last week . . . removing my clothes is the segue here in case you are confused. I usually squeeze this appointment in at the end of the year. Squeeze, get it? Anyway, the woman asked me when I had my last mammogram. Last December. She asked me where. I didn't know. I waited too long last year to schedule and I had to drive to where Jesus lost his sandals, because all appointments near where people actually live were gone. 

She paused. Acted as if I might have to re-robe. What? She was adamant that I remember where I was last time. Well, my exam happened at another office within the SAME group. So just look it up, was my suggestion - said nicely, of course. I'd be dumb to be rude to a woman wielding a boob-squishing machine who could inflict additional pain if she so chose. (I'm kidding, I wouldn't be rude anyway). Um, apparently if I went out of this region, even though it was still through Amita Heath, she couldn't see it in her computer. 

Kind of unrelated, but as I'm getting ready to
 print my envelopes, I want to share with you
 what I found next to the couch in the study
 when I was cleaning for the party I hosted
 last week. It's my old, broken printer kept
 cozy by this Yoda stuffed animal backpack
 that was Tank's when he was little. Who's
 missing a volleyball? What
 on earth? All I want for Christmas is
 to get this place organized. 

I leaned in to examine the calendar on the wall. IS THIS 2021? OR HAVE I TIME TRAVELED? Don't computers track stuff like this? Even or especially for big medical groups? It was weird. She wanted to compare the two photo shoots. Fair enough/good plan, but I'm here, topless, and the clock is ticking and I left Tank home with sleeping toddlers/babies. Can we just get 'er done? I told her I'd call my doc office the moment I left and ask them to look up last year's photo shoot. She agreed. *I did call my doc and 3 minutes later I called Ms. Mammogram and told her where I'd posed last year.* Despite not knowing where I'd been flashing my boobs last year, I proceeded to scrape all skin surrounding my very flat chest in order to plop something on the machine. I checked that off my list.

Speaking of list (is this getting annoying?), I have to make a list of gifts to buy because Coach has decided that we aren't going to take the kids to Budapest. Sigh, sort of. Part of me is relieved or I would've fought to stick to the original/tentative plan. Making that trip happen was a lot to wrap my brain around. Part of me is bummed. The global pandemic sort of killed the pipe dream. 

I suggested we incorporate another dream into Christmas . . . "Let's gift the three youngest with travel plans to Florida over spring break." Coach, relieved that I wasn't begging to do the Budapest thing, was like SURE. They kids will be excited. They still talk about the time we took the 3 of them to Florida for spring break a few years ago (Tank was traveling with his buddy's family, also to Florida). It was a chill, no agenda to sight-see kind of trip, and great weather and we laughed so much. Great memories. 

Speaking of Florida (wait for it), I had my physical yesterday. All bloodwork was normal, except I have VERY high cholesterol. My number was 186, I think, and medication is recommended if it's 190. Hello, look at me, twinning with Suz in Florida. The doctor and I:  shocked. I eat healthy. I do put cheese on my salad and my Mexican food, and hello sour cream. The doc was confused. I workout daily. She wonders if it was a fluke. We're re-testing in 3 months. She also wonders if it's in my genes. DO YOUR SIBLINGS HAVE THIS? Well, as of Tuesday Pat didn't know what I do for work. Cholesterol hasn't come up.

Tank even took photos
 while he was at the park.
I was able to get my physical and my allergy shots done Wednesday last week, because I enlisted Tank's help. It was over 60 degrees. I sent him to the park with 4 toddlers while the baby slept and I worked on arranging the photos in the margins of my annual Christmas poem. I got a lot done while chuckling at what I was hearing in the next room. 

During lunch Tank said things like EAT YOUR FOOD, OR I'LL EAT YOU. and his old standby that makes no sense, but the kids love it RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU'RE AN ARMADILLO. 

I think some people can get away with not being all that great at sentence structure. 

Oh, the basement fridge - officially needs to be replaced. Repair isn't an option. And to keep things interesting, the dishwasher isn't working. Fortunately I have two - glad I put my foot down on installing 2 when we did the addition, but they've been out to fix this one twice. It was new in 2017. A Bosch. *Eye roll.* 

3 tots eating with Tank, never boring.
 The baby is behind him in the high
chair. That's right - we've
 got him surrounded.

Any recent times when you wondered what year it was? Any family members who struggle with sentences, but have plenty of positive attributes? Surprised by bloodwork? Anyone else squeezing in year end doc visits? Do tell, and if you're like me and finding it hard to find time to get everything done, I hope you have a Tank-like substitute to step in and 'be you' for a bit. My tots are sure to be bored with me from here on out. I have a post set for Wednesday, but in case you aren't back, have a very wonderful Christmas or whatever you celebrate. 


December 15, 2021

It's potentially a dog-eat-Christmas-tree kind of world we now live in, plus hodge podge *photos galore

We've been debating where to put a Christmas tree, because of Finn. In nice weather he's outside or inside tied to the kitchen door handle so he can't wander very far. His bed, food, and toys are there. Most importantly, apparently, is that we are there. Our master plan:  give him free reign of the living room during the Chicago winter. The family room is carpeted and full of toddlers and babies and their toys. 

Two year old boys eating breakfast - note:  Finn's
area is to the right of the table. He was
still sleeping in his crate - he and Lad sleep
 in. Meal time with toddlers is challenging. 

The living room is where we usually set up our tree though. It's off the beaten path, so Finn wouldn't give my allergies any trouble. Honestly, at this point if I haven't started wheezing, I don't think I'm going to . . . so long as I don't start sleeping with him in my bed or getting my face in his fur and nuzzling him like he's some sort of cute, irresistible puppy. Well, he's all those things, but there's literally no chance in hell that I'll become that reckless. My friend, Becky-who-babysits, loves on him enough for both of us. 

I'm not a monster, I DO scratch him, pet him, and talk lovey-dovey to him for some seriously joyful stretches of time. But I leave my nose out of the love-fest and I wash my hands immediately following. Becky's kind of love-on-Finn is much less reserved. 

Anyway, we've tried training Finn to hang out in the living room. We even moved the huge coffee table out of the room*. "Here you go, enjoy your larger space Finn." Well, turns out he'd rather be near us. He doesn't stay in there for long. I'm opposed to having baby gates all over the place. I'm tall, but I'm as clumsy as a baby giraffe. Not interested in taking a header. 

The girls got creative during our attempt at training him. They set up Curly's iPad and then called it with my phone to spy on him. Our version of an indoor surveillance system. When he got close to either of the two exits, they scolded him and we all shook empty water bottles full of coins to alert him:  NOT OK. Anyone wondering why I'm behind on my Christmas shopping bill, paying, and laundry?

Yes, we have a workout bike in our living room. That's another story. This is Curly getting him to sit and Mini in the video chat window. We are easily amused.

One of Coach's patients told him that Irish Setters are pack animals, so he will insist on being near us. Have I mentioned that we don't know anything about having a dog? Or was that implied? 

This is not Miles. I took Finn to the
pet blessing at our church.
He was in heaven.
Our cluelessness reminds me of an encounter that real-live, authentic dog owners, like so many of you, might appreciate. Or laugh at. I took Finn for a run a few months ago - since then Lad has decided no more running till he's over 1 1/2. Something about his tendons or knees or whatever. Coach only knows about people parts, so we were unaware. 

Anyway, a HUGE fluffy white dog named Miles approached on the path. I was trying to steer Finnegan AWAY from Miles. Here's where I need help:  WHAT IS PROTOCOL? Am I supposed to keep my not-my-dog away from other dogs? 

Mile's owner then said in a very sweet voice:  CAN WE MEET? 

Unrelated, but funny. I was taking a photo
to show Lad that Finn was going to church to
 be blessed and Finn took a crap, as in THIS IS
When I came home and told my kids this, they cackled. The socially-dog-clueless people that we are, we didn't know this was a thing:  asking if my dog can approach your dog, etc. Miles and Finn had a little sniff fest. They nuzzled one another. This leads to my next question:  HOW LONG IS ONE MEANT TO STAND THERE AND ALLOW THE DOGS TO GET ACQUAINTED? Is it rude to stand there too long? What if 'my' dog is more bouncy/young? Is it ruder to end the friend session prematurely? Finn would hang out all day, if allowed.

Anyway, gifting the living room to the dog appears to be a fail, so we're thinking the tree will go in there. We'd also considered the family room where the tots hang out. I could convince the 2 year old crowd not to touch, but one of the one years olds tends to struggle with off-limits stuff. We bought a tree today, after going to 3 places to find one. Progress, as in checking something off my list - not the 3 different lots we visited. 

Piece of shoe.
In the meantime, the day before Coach and I flew to Arizona, I conducted a test. Curious about whether or not Finn might decide free reign of the living room might be better than the smaller kitchen area, I decided to give it a whirl. I wasn't babysitting. I was making food in the kitchen for my upcoming party. I put him in the living room and I thought, HEY, HE'S DOING PRETTY WELL. 

I went to check on him. Oh. Shit. He'd wandered out into the front hall (I can't see front hall from the kitchen) and snatched one of Coach's black shoes. He'd ripped a piece off of the back. Oh brother. Note:  he also had my running shoe in there, like it was next on the menu. That would've ended badly. 

Shoe minus bite size bit.


Me:  (groan) OH. WELL . . . 

He didn't want me to run to the shoe repair place. He tried them out at home and they seemed fine. It wasn't noticeable. He's in the market for a new pair, so he wasn't terribly upset. He always buys exactly the same shoes. He likes the support/the look. I suggested that we tape up the back of them with Curly's black electrical tape that she uses to secure her dancing shoes. He took a pass.

Can I get you a pillow?
If we sound like hodge-podgers, wearing ripped shoes and shuffling dog ready spaces, well, guilty as charged. Add to that list the * from above:  we took the bunk beds down. That was hard. Not physically. Emotionally. Bunk beds have been a staple since before Reg was born. 16 years. It wasn't lost on us that Har and Lar could've been using that room had it worked out. Sigh.
Ugh, this was a hassle.

Anyway, we put Ed, Tank, and Reg in the big room with three beds. We moved Lad to the empty bunk bed room. Lad didn't want to sleep in the twin size bunk bed. We bought a full size mattress. He'll take that with him when he (and Finn) move out. We planned to store the bunk bed in the crawl space and basement storage room. 

Speechless, can't even say LOVE WHAT
Note the bed height though.
Pretend it's made.

Well, the bottom drawers and book shelf piece that fit under the bed didn't break
down. We decided to leave it in the room and construct Lad's bed around it. The problem:  what to put on the other side of the mattress to support it? Hmm. 

Me:  WHAT ABOUT THE COFFEE TABLE IN THE LIVING ROOM? THAT WAY FINN WILL HAVE MORE SPACE (back when we thought that smart idea was gonna work)?

The coffee table, stacked with the bunkie boards from the bunk bed helped level off Lad's makeshift bed. Now, his bed appears to be lofted because where were we going to keep the box spring if he didn't use it? If he doesn't like it, all the more reason to save up and move out. Am I right? 

After the shoe eating,
I was working at the
computer and I just let my buddy
 hang out near me.
We had the floor color first, so the dog
 matching the exact shade of our floor
 was not planned, but genius - right?

Oh, we once left Finn in the kitchen for less than an hour. He chewed our very nice, slightly new French sliding door (photo below). Now he goes in his crate when we leave the house. Oh, and we're thinking about enclosing the dance stage in the basement, so he can have a bit more space when needed. 

Speaking of guilty as charged.
Look over his shoulder at what was a very nice door frame. Humph.

Hit me with your dog advice. What's holding up your tree buying, gift ordering, card addressing progress? 

*editing to add:  Finn escaped yesterday, and why escape? - good home, great food, several sets of hands to pet him, etc. Yes, you are right - I FREAKED OUT. There is a stake in the ground with a cord-like 12 foot rope that attaches to his harness. (I could be using the wrong lingo - I don't own a dog). Anyway, the weather in Chicago is unseasonably wonderful. I put Finn in the yard tied up and the tots on the deck, not tied up- but the gate locks. When I went out to bring the tots in for lunch, and move the dog from the yard up to the deck . . . he was gone. So was the long cord. I had no idea how long it was since he'd slipped away.  I called his name. Nothing. I looked down through the yards and there he was. Sniffing in someone's bushes several houses down. I called him and he looked so happy that I wanted to play with him. He ran directly for me . . . with the 12 foot leash thing whipping around behind him. It's a mystery how he got unhooked, because the attaching clip is not broken. Anyway, PHEW. 

** ALSO (this just in and I HAD TO SHARE):  My brother, Pat, called here this afternoon. Wanted to grill me on what we were going to do about having Christmas with my folks, like boosters and such. He heard a baby in the background. 

He asked me:  IS THAT A BABY? 

I was like:  YES, I RUN AN IN-HOME DAYCARE (have for 7 years now, but that was implied). 

He was speechless. 

Bottom line:  my brother didn't know what I do for a job. He lives 12 minutes from me. Not that that matters, but he isn't in Alaska and never in touch or anything. Mind.Blown,. 

December 13, 2021

lights by a lunatic?, pool open, party recap, THE game, and fridge on the fritz

I wrote a post for today and was frustrated that it was longer than I wanted for a Monday. I moved it and wrote this. It isn't short. I have stuff to share and who better to share it with than you, my faithful readers. I know everyone is busy this time of year, but I do appreciate you and I hope I'm not losing you as my readers, long-winded as I am. 

Timely updates:  In order to get ready for the somewhat last minute Christmas party I hosted last week, I asked Lad to pull out the Christmas lights before Coach and I left for Arizona. We're gonna go with IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS, but he hung the lights and they looked a little, shall we say, OFF- not as in they wouldn't turn on, but as in they weren't hung with any thought or system.

While we were away, he 'fixed them' or added to them with other strings that they didn't need from his work. Mini texted us a photo. Coach and I were at the airport about to fly home. We were ASTONISHED, thinking the lights couldn't have gotten worse . . . but alas.

We were like, what on earth? Strings hung down so low that it was hard to approach the house without getting close-lined. They were all over the place, like maybe a crazed lunatic had hung them. This made no sense. Lad is actually a great artist. I begged Coach to fix them before the party.

Mini made fun of the snow I used to
 cover up the wires the next morning. I
had more snow that I should've used
 UNDER the house to make it look more
 natural, but wait - these are miniature,
 ceramic houses, they're cute but not real.
 The end. No more fussing over them.
Let's all just remember that Coach is NOT the most dedicated lights guy. We keep the bar very low and I'm sure the neighbors refer to us as the people with few flowers planted, kayaks stowed behind scraggly bushes, and an annual weak Christmas lights display. But THIS, this looked crappy even for us. 

Coach adjusted them, and those that he didn't have time to adjust he didn't plug in before the party.


Before we left town, I put up my Christmas houses. What is it about going away in early December that throws off the whole month? I've been playing catch up ever since - but hey, my houses are up and they look great. The tots, who sometimes have separation issues when they get dropped off, are loving the houses. I might have to keep them up all year. 


Table for 1.

When we were in Arizona, Coach left one morning with the breakfast voucher in his pocket. I've mentioned that I won't let anything stand in my way of free stuff, right? So, I approached the front desk and explained the husband teaching a class and how he had our meal ticket with him. She wrote me up a new ticket. No prob.

While she wrote it, I read a notice. It.Freaked.Me.Out. for a moment. 

The hotel was getting their pool resurfaced. The pool would be closed. A nearby pool would accommodate hotel guests, but hey, I had no car, etc. Hello, read the fine print crazy lady who has been derailed by a closed pool on more than 2 occasions . . . the pool would be closed the day after we left. Panic attack avoided.


My alumnae club Christmas party was very nice. The first floor looked clean and non-daycare-ish. The food was all done in time. I was beyond tired, not having slept enough the night before. I stupidly stayed up late, wanting to add fake snow around the Christmas houses and I also decided to make peppermint bark. I stuffed all my paperwork and my desk calendar into my big cabinet/locker in the kitchen. The next day, I decided to enjoy the cleared off counter top. Not getting my calendar out was a strategic mistake. The day after the party, I was in writing mode. I need to finish editing the chapter I want to read tonight (Monday) at the writers group.

So pretty though.

 Party & aftermath recap:

1. I forgot to take out the peppermint bark that I stayed up late to make.2. Coach brought home his work coffee maker and set it up and I forgot to make the coffee. 

3. I was super tired the next day and took not one nap but TWO. (I wasn't babysitting)

4. While I was taking my second nap, I turned down my phone and forgot to turn the volume back up. I missed a call from the dentist at 5:08 pm - Tank had an appointment and without my calendar out, I forgot all about it. I should've put a reminder in my phone, but I was busy when I made the appointment and I didn't do that. Duh. The dentist was very understanding. I've NEVER done that before.

Wait, who lives here? 

5. Tank flew home during the party and in my head I thought he was landing at 8 pm. Um, I spoke to him the day before and still didn't put 2 and 2 together that he was leaving campus to get to the airport in the afternoon. It doesn't take 6 hours to fly from Omaha. I was thinking of his return flight being at 8. He was supposed to land at 5, but was an hour late. Thank goodness, because Coach was already doing all of the basketball/dancing driving while I was in party mode. 

You know what makes a great
 picture? A baby. A dessert. A dog. 

6. With Tank home the leftover snack and dessert food has been very welcome and quickly inhaled. 


I wrote most of my annual year end  recap poem on the flight back from Scottsdale. Then last week after the party, I got busy adding to it, brainstorming, etc. Well, Saturday night after we all attended Reg's home basketball game, I did my first cold read. They liked it. They were polite. What? That's not how this works. People get their feathers riled. They have strong feeling about what I've shared. They boo and moan that some parts suck and are dumb and roar laughing at others. It was too tame. 

Tank urged me to include more about Mini. She has so much to point out, to laugh about, to share. He isn't wrong. I took his advice. Mini protested slightly about the extra info being added, but fortunately she can laugh at herself. We might be laughing harder. Not to worry, I will post one day soon about Mini's many mishaps. Brace yourself.  

This morning (Sunday), I added more lines and worked on the ones that weren't quite right. Re-rhyming them to improve the flow. I haven't added the photos to the margins yet, but I feel much better about the end product. There are people who get excited about my poem, or so they claim. Ah, the pressure. 

I was hoping to print my envelopes this weekend, but that didn't happen. Not sure if I trust myself to do it during nap time this week, because there is bound to be  swearing and ranting. 


Finally, Reggie played a home game last night (Saturday). When his team played last weekend, Coach and I watched the live stream from our hotel room. It was against Entitled High. That's the high school in our split district that tends to enroll wealthy, entitled students. Exceptions to every rule, of course. There was a kid talking trash to Reg. 


My kid is # 21. Blurry because the
nutty mama who took the
 photo was shaking.

Well. Have you ever? A kid making fun of my kid's shoes because they aren't $300 shoes? Reg does tend to shred his shoes, but these shoes aren't that old. No rips. So he didn't literally mean they were broken. I told Reg we ought to load up all of our old, broke ass shoes and dump them on Mr. Hot Shot's lawn. Entitled High romped on us and we lost badly. We are a young team. This is a building year. Yadda, yadda.

Then last night we attended his game. I wasn't expecting much especially after the Entitled High loss. We played a cross town rival. They're always good. It was a close game. Then we pulled ahead by 15. They came back a bit, but we ended up winning by 5. Warning, I'm about to brag:  Reg was the high scorer. He had 22 of our 68 points. He hit 5 three pointers. One of them was just over half court at the half time buzzer. We were all there minus Ed who won't be home from school till Thursday. I'm telling you  - crazy exciting. 

Tank at the sink, helping me clean out
 the freezer in the kitchen to make
 room for the food from the basement.
Welcome home, Tank. He was
 thrilled to help..


I know I already said 'finally', but remember last year when the dryer broke just before Christmas? Well, we've thawed the fridge since it spoiled my turkey and was actually only 44 degrees. It doesn't seem to want to make a comeback. The kids ate a severely freezer-burned pie tonight. Shoving food in all available spaces in the other fridges and not having room for a spare gallon of milk at the moment is getting interesting. 

Are your appliances behaving? Do you take your lights seriously? Do you host things and then forget to set stuff out? Maybe it's a sign that you're enjoying yourself. How often do you clean out your fridge? I admit, I put stuff in there and then I forget. Oops.