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May 18, 2022

Hillbilly status chekclist: couldn't make this up if I tried

I was smokin' on Mother's Day. OK, so it wasn't me - it was our microwave. 

When it smokes rains, it pours. 

While we were in Prague in early April, the kids let us know that our dryer (not a typo, we have MULTIPLE appliance issues at present) was making a weird noise. I legit thought they had just hit a wrong button, because they don't know how to use it. Turns out, it needs a new part. Remember the dryer? It was new JUST before covid. 

Anyone else wonder how we told time back before we had covid to use as a starting point? 

You remember Coach had to rip out the doorway and increase the size of the door jam in order to fit the thing through the laundry room door. Days before Christmas. 

It's times like this and back when the kids Coach stuck that 'gas appliance' sign on my back during the dryer delivery that make me so happy I have a blog. Where else would I share these stories? Better to be able to laugh at the irritating parts of life, than sob over them. 

Mr. Appliance Fixer, who I love, came out days after we returned from Prague. He said: I don't service that brand. *too lazy to haul my butt upstairs and look at what brand we have*

He agreed to order the part. He told me it was a good thing we'd noted the sound, ignoring that might lead to bigger issues. He said he'd come back the following week. 

Weeks later, I called. We got on his schedule. A grandkid of his got covid, and he took the day off when he was supposed to be here. Plus a long weekend. He came back out last week, but had the wrong part. Meanwhile my newer dryer thumps away, making me cringe because I fear it will die completely. He called Monday but I was walking out the door with my tiny folk. I must call tomorrow to see when he can come out. 

Anyway, a loud dryer doesn't make us hillbillies. Pardon the appliance offshoot. 

I thought maybe the microwave, like everything else under this roof, just needed a good cleaning. After my scrub-fest, it still wasn't acting right. It smelled like melting wires. Call me crazy, but something to be concerned about. It wouldn't cook my frozen GF muffin. It looked like bolts of lightning were shooting around in there. Well, I'm no appliance guru, but that can't be good. I found out they call it 'arcing'. Listen, I enjoy few treats, so no one wants to spend time with me if I've been denied my GF muffin. ABT, where we bought all of our appliances, came out again. They'd just been out to service bury the fridge drawers. 

$141 service call. 

I found out the microwave is toast, not like it will make toast - it's kaput. Done. Finished. Like the fridge drawers, it was new in '17. AND NOT CHEAP. What on earth? 

I called Thermador per the ABT guy's suggestion. The customer service person said she'd file an appeal for me. She took my info. I wasn't satisfied. I kept prattling on about my fridge drawers and my other Thermador appliances that needed to be serviced over the last few years DESPITE being new. 

The woman:  WELL, YOU CAN ONLY FILE AN APPEAL ON THIS, NOT ON THE FRIDGE DRAWERS. 

Me:  YEAH, WELL - THE FACT THAT MY KITCHEN APPLIANCES HAVE DIED SO EARLY IS PART OF MY EXPERIENCE. I NEED TO FEEL HEARD AND I NEED THERMADOR TO HEAR THE FULL BACKGROUND. WHO CAN I WRITE  A LETTER TO? 

There was a heavy sigh on the line, but she did give me an email address so I can share my full story. I'm nothing if not all about the full story, am I right? 

I haven't written the letter yet because I'm busy with Mini's senior video and the problem (which is a good problem to have) is that I took so many videos, going through all of them is a TAD time consuming, but also fun and heart warming. 

When I write the letter, I'll ask:  WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ME CONVINCING MY HUSBAND OF GOING WITH THERMADOR BRAND AND SHELLING OUT BIG MONEY IF THE APPLIANCES WERE GOING TO FAIL SO EARLY ON?

The news of the burned out microwave happened a few hours before the phone call from the camera store. Replacing the microwave is $2,000. Um, ouch. But when I found out the videos were watchable, and are they EVER - in fact, I'd say they are down right addicting, I said: HEY, NEW MICROWAVE - NO BIG DEAL.

Still, I hope Thermador will do something to compensate us. 

I chuckled Friday night when Coach pulled Lad's college microwave out of the crawl space and set it up in the middle of the island. I was like IT'S OFFICIAL. WE ARE HILLBILLIES. I snapped a photo and made a mental checklist:

* old microwave in the middle of my island, 

*just beyond that a dog that I don't own tied to my back door, 

*and a partial working fridge in my dining room. 

Saturday morning before heading to travel basketball games, I decided to freeze a bunch of fresh fruit for protein shakes. Reg was in the kitchen packing snacks for his game. 

Reg:  (pointing at a red thing on the floor in front of the fridge) I THINK THAT'S A FROG.

Me:  HUH? NO, THAT MUST BE A DROPPED RASPBERRY. 

THEN IT HOPPED. AS IN - IT WAS A SMALL RED FROG. 

His little feet were covered with evidence of dust bunnies, because he'd been hanging out under my fridge (see note above about how everything in this house needs a good cleaning). I was BESIDE MYSELF. I thought at first that Finn dragged it in, but then I remembered that Finn's owner has a bunch of aquariums in his bedroom that he claims belong to a friend and he's returning them next week, etc. 

I took out my hillbilly checklist and added RED FROG HOPS OUT FROM UNDER FRIDGE. 

Anyone else have a hillbilly component to your life? 

May 16, 2022

GREAT NEWS & NOT chillin' at the Hillbilly House

When I was a kid, my dad used to roll his eyes when we visited my cousins' house and my uncle had us sit and watch his movies from their most recent vacay. So, I'm giving you a break from tales from our Europe trip. Plus, I have more pressing things to share . . . 

Let's start with a video from the past . . . drumroll - as in, FROM THE VIDEO TAPES THAT I FEARED WERE LOST FOEVER. My day was MADE on Friday (really my remaining years on this earth were made) when the camera store called and said the guy she sent them to got them to work on his camera and he transferred all of them to digital. I will soon send him the remaining tapes. HOORAY!


This is Curly entertaining the rest of the kids with her funny faces during dinner. It's less than a minute even though I recorded this particular incident for like 10 minutes. Thus the 80 hours of video from the first 12 years of my motherhood. 

I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted. I can breathe again. Nothing else can ever possibly upset me. *feel free to remind me of this if I share an I'M SO UPSET post.  

*******

It's official. We've turned a corner here at the house of Shenanigan and it ain't pretty. The specific corner I'm referring to is the corner of the dining room. Let me 'splain.

Remember the fridge that refused to chill? In November our turkey went bad because the fridge was only like 42 or 40 degrees. Gallons of milk had been spoiling for months, but since I'm not always a rocket scientist and I've got offspring to blame, I blamed the offspring. 

Me:  YOU GUYS NEED TO ROTATE THE MILK PROPERLY. DON'T GRAB THE NEWEST GALLON OUT OF THE BASEMENT. GRAB THE ONE THAT WILL EXPIRE NEXT. 

Duh. 

Then the stench of rotting turkey meat when I opened my bird on T-giving morning made reality as clear as the juice running from a properly prepared bird. 

Irritated by the fridge's short 6 yr (?) life span, Coach refused to replace it. So, we carried on. The freezer was still working. Two big boys were away at college, along with their appetites. Look at us, we're so fancy we have a whole fridge dedicated to storing vegetables and non-dairy beverages. I know you're jealous. 

In addition to our kitchen fridge and our basement 'non-functioning' fridge, we have fridge drawers built into our snack bar. This spot is a mini island with a built in bench and two stools. The kids love it for doing homework and hanging out with friends, or eating while watching sports on TV. Those fridge drawers are crazy pricey. They are also crazy unreliable. *cue me sobbing in the background*

They were new in Dec. '17. We probably had them serviced twelve times in the first 2 years. No exaggeration. They died a few more times after that initial WHAT IS GOING ON period. They've replace the entire unit. They've replaced the control board countless times. My take:  Thermador didn't have it ready to roll out, but they wanted to stay competitive, so they sold them anyway. 

In theory those hold kid snacks and beverages for when we entertain. If you are wondering when we entertain, I'm wondering right along with you. It's a rare thing. Who has time when we're always at basketball games? Graduation parties tend to be an annual event that we host. For those parties and others that crop up, we clear out all the yogurts and other stuff and load the drawers with drinks for our guests. 

Last week I ate a yogurt that was not as cold as usual. Then I lost my focus . . . until, the next day when I consumed another not chilled yogurt. Huh?

The drawers broke. Again. Service fee = $189. Control board is out. Again? Why? It's backordered and no one can tell us when it'll be available. There's no guarantee that it'll be chilling for our grad party on June 11th. 

A week before that happened, I told Coach IT'S TIME. With two college guys coming home, an upcoming grad party, and my frustration limit reached, I was ready to buy one. What's that U2 song? Oh yeah, WITH OR WITHOUT YOU.  

We ran to an outlet. I looked online. I ran to Best Buy. Best Buy has lost my business. Their hours are ridiculous (which the sales guy said they were changing), and I can no longer call the store to ask questions. My call is answered by a call center. The call center can't tell those of us shopping for a deal if they have any open box items. Very frustrating. 

Finally, I found another outlet store. They had a guy. Everyone needs a guy like this. I told him how narrow our basement door was, and that we embrace dents and deep discounts. He called me back with a great fridge complete with dings and a great price. Plus, they deliver. 

Delivery happened a few days after we had no functioning fridge drawers in the kitchen and no guarantee on a replacement part. 

I woke up the day of delivery for our dinged up basement fridge with a moment of clarity. Instead of having them haul away my vegetable crisper/freezer from the basement, I'd ask them to reposition it . . . in the dining room. I'm pretty sure the delivery guys thought I was crazy, but they hauled the old fridge up from the basement and stuck it in the corner of the dining room. Genius, right? 

If you don't find what you're looking for in
the kitchen freezer or fridge, step into the
 dining room. Who needs formal
 when you have more space to chill?

I now have a basement fridge with dents. My tower fridge and freezer in the kitchen, and a freezer with fridge space to chill drinks for the grad party in the dining room. 

The question is, when the fridge drawers are fixed, will I be able to part with my additional dining room beverage cooler/freezer? I'm finding it very handy. Have I started a trend here? 

I feel like we now qualify as Hillbillies for housing a sort-of functioning fridge in the dining room. My next post will have a few more Hillbilly qualities to reveal, believe it or not. Feel free to take a stab at what those might be. Or let me know if you have a THEY DON'T MAKE 'EM LIKE THEY USED TO story. 


May 11, 2022

Vienna: fancy-pants eating, smarty-pants son, and a surprise noise maker

Coach and Ed (who I cropped out) ordering
at the ruin bars in Budapest.
The Vienna Airbnb guy was frustrated that I hadn't responded to his emails. He wanted to touch base about what time we were arriving, etc. Hey, traveling is a full time job. I hadn't looked at my email much. Plus, Coach and I were sharing one phone with internet access. Mr. Google-maps lover usually had it in his possession. 

When we talked about going to Europe, we knew our current phone provider didn't offer coverage overseas. Can we get by without a phone?

Ed:  CAN'T BE DONE. 

Me:  I MANAGED BACK IN THE DAY WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE. 

My guys walking the
streets of Budapest.
It is a different day though and I get that it makes things so much easier, so . . . we bought a phone for Curly NOT AT WALMART FAMILY MOBILE, or whatever it's called. Her phone plan automatically offers overseas service. It's a more expensive package, but it was monumental in helping us travel. I feel like a grown up. I mean except for the fact that I had to borrow my 14 year old daughter's phone to go to Europe.

Upside for Curly, she didn't have to wait until graduation from 8th grade to get a phone. Less than a week after we were home, Curly was heading to caddy training. It was one of those who's-on-first nights when Coach was working late and I had to drive in different directions. 

Me:  HEY, HERE'S YOUR PHONE. DON'T LOSE IT. TEXT ME WHEN CADDY TRAINING IS DONE. LIFE WILL BE EAESIER IF YOU FINISH EARLY. I MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET YOU BEFORE (blah, blah, blah).

Remember the tour
of the parliament
 building in Budapest? This was
the inside. Gorgeous.
How 'bout that for no fanfare?  

Commercial for why NOT to get a phone package from Walmart is over. Back to Europe:  Shortly after we discovered the front side of Gellert Hill and took a photo of the kissy-face people, I responded to Airbnb guy. 

Me:  SO SORRY, WE'RE STILL COMING. ABOUT TO HOP ON A TRAIN TO VIENNA, etc. 

We left Budapest Friday late afternoon, after arriving on Wednesday morning. The weather was freakishly warm and no one told the train that, so the heat was BLASTING. We ended up sharing a train car with a student from California. She and Ed exchanged travel experiences and we all took turns stepping into the hallway to wring out our clothes from sweat thanks to our sauna like experience in our cabin. I wish this was an exaggeration. 

We picked up the key for the next Airbnb from a restaurant across the street with no problem, but we couldn't get the key out of the lock once we were inside the apartment. Ed finally managed. It was very counterintuitive, but Ed still gave us the raised, hairy-eye-ball look of a wise-ass college kid who knows more stuff than his aged parents. 

Meat , veggies and potatoes.
Awesome.

We threw our stuff down and raced out the door to a restaurant that was ridiculously close. It was a pricey place that we'd researched online. We ate well. Really well. I loved my dinner, and announced that I'd cracked the code on how to eat GF and survive in Europe. High-end. Since I insisted that we eat somewhere for fancy-pants people and it worked, I was like THIS IS HOW WE WILL EAT THE REST OF OUR TIME HERE. 

Saturday morning, we took a  free tour of the city. Our tour guide was excellent. Vienna was pretty. Full of artsy stuff and stories of people who came there to study art, enjoy it, etc. Beethoven moved there to study under Mozart. He got word his mom was dying, so he went back to Germany. Then he returned to Vienna five years later, after Mozart had died, and lived there for 35 years. During that time he struggled with hearing loss and eventually completely lost his hearing. Now you feel like you've been there, right? 

Our tour guide asked if anyone knew what the statue represented on top of a building. It was the earth being supported by a person. Or something. 

I think this is the building that corresponds with Ed's answer, with the statues holding up the hold 'earth.'

Ed:  Um, is it Gaea?  

In Greek mythology, she is the personification of the earth. He'd learned about her in Latin class. Shocked that he knew the answer, our tour guide's mouth fell open. She called him brilliant. Ed shrugged, looked a little embarrassed. I waved my hand around and shouted:  THAT'S MY KID! *No, I did not. Coach and I got a little chuckle out of Mr. Smarty Pants. 

THE NOISE:  We stayed in the Airbnb Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night there was a whirring kind of noise, intermittent but more on than off. It was super irritating. Dull and background noise-like, even my trusty sound machine didn't drown it out. It was not as constant Saturday night, but still happening. 

Mr. Annoying.

Saturday morning we left quickly to take a free walking tour of the city. I didn't investigate until Sunday morning when we were moving at a slower pace. 

Coach thought a  neighbor had a dying dog. I thought it was an old washing machine with an agitator. Who does laundry ALL NIGHT LONG? 

I opened the blinds a little and there it was. A PIEGON. Sheesh - go whir somewhere else. 

Did you know pigeons could be so loud? All night long? Do you know your Greek mythology? 


May 9, 2022

a memory keeper's broken heart by video transfer

I make a grad video for my high school grads. Tank's was almost 45 minutes long. Mini,  my assistant, said:  SO WHAT IF GRANDPA COMPLAINS? IT'S HARD TO HIGHLIGHT ALL THAT TANK IS IN UNDER 20 MINUTES. 


This video is the ending bit of Tank's grad video. I pulled this video from the VHS tape I had converted to digital a long time ago. I thought it was very fitting. Get it? ALL DONE, after 45 minutes. 

I incorporate photos and videos clips from the time they are babies. Set it to music. It is a labor of love. They're fun to make and most people enjoy watching them.

For the first 3 boys, I put clips of when they were young into the video from the ONE VHS tape that I had transferred to digital back when I did a 50th anniversary video for my folks like 6 years ago. I chose that video because it had a bunch of cousins in it, not just my kids. I planned to someday transfer all my tapes to digital.

We bought a digital video camera a few days before we left for Yellowstone 2010. So everything after that is digital and is stored on my computer. Easy to access, etc.

1998-2010 was on small 8 mm tapes. I transferred some, but not all, onto VHS tapes. The most recent 8 mm stuff I never transferred to VHS because BUSY. Then the camera died, prompting us to get a digital camera for Yellowstone, and I had no way to transfer them. I figured I'd bring them to 'a guy' at some point. 

Mini is tiny in that ONE tape I had made digital. I wanted to showcase her being chatty and active, so I decided to transfer the older tapes now so I could surprise her and incorporate toddler clips into her video.

I bought the equipment needed to do it myself. Hauled a VCR out of the basement. The VHS tapes weren't good. Mostly static. I took a deep breath, thinking - good thing I saved all my 8 mm tapes. I bought an older hi8 camcorder on FB marketplace. Thursday, my day off, I set it up. Played the tapes, attempted to record to my computer. Nothing. Huh?

I drove to the camera store that did my VHS transfer. She and I figured the camera I bought was messed up. I was still somewhat calm. She called me Friday with bad news. The 8 mm videos are messed up. They scroll, images overlap. I sobbed on and off all day Friday. 

Box of tapes. It's like 80 hours of memories.
I have about 40 hi8 mm tapes that cover those 10 years. I took video of
EVERYTHING. There are parts that I know are on those tapes, like each time I brought a baby home from the hospital. Or the kids reaction when they met Curly and stood at the edge of my bed, taking bets about whether or not the baby I held was a boy or a girl baby. Then there are all the videos that I don't even remember taking. The kids messing around in the family room, etc.

As I write this, I am still in disbelief that all of those images can be gone. Camera store lady handed it off to another guy, but she didn't sound very encouraging that he could get them to play back properly. 

I'm trying to remain positive. One thing:  I have my old camera. She wonders if the camera recorded the videos at a weird speed. Maybe if we send the camera to someone who can fix it (I found a place in Ohio that claims to fix them), the tapes will play back on that specific camera. 

Was it because I stored the videos in my bedroom closet for years? Maybe the heat and humidity got to them, because my closet is over the garage and it feels like an attic in there. I found a place that works with humidity damaged tapes. In California? The cost is staggering, but they say they don't charge if they can't work with them. 

I was meticulous. I labeled everything. Numbered the tapes, so I know what order they go in. I'm sore from kicking myself for not doing this sooner. My heart hurts. I feel like I've lost my foundation. I love and cherish those memories and to not be able to look back at my babies and giggle at their antics, pains me so very much. 

Mini was like WELL, WE HAVE A MILLION PHOTOS. 

True, but I want to hear those little voices, watch them roll around with each other. It's Mother's Day, and I have to say what a gift it is to mother these six blessings of mine. I've SO ENJOYED them, it's pure joy to watch them grow and say funny things, and note the way they change and listen to their little comments, etc.

On the positive side, I have most everything after 2010. I have one two hour tape that I turned to digital, but it doesn't include Reg or Curly. I also have a bunch of VHS tapes that I can try to make digital, but they are so full of static (see clip below), it isn't easy to watch. The color is gone. *The camera store said once they are full of static it is because the tape is deteriorating. No way to fix them. 

Below, we still get the idea of what they are up to, but not the clear image I'd hoped for. 


*GIANT SIGH*

So, until I have exhausted all measures, I'm going to hope that I can figure something out. One thing, if I don't have a video of it all, at least it happened. Right? My kids had such adventures and so much fun together growing up. Lad assured me that they remember it all fondly and he's glad to have had the childhood that they had. Plus photos. 

Since I'd planned this project for last week, I'd envisioned watching some of the videos with the kids on Mother's Day. I've pulled myself together (mostly) and am keeping busy until I know more. 

People, I'd give my right arm to recover these videos. Good thing I'm a lefty. 

Sorry to leave you wondering about what kept us awake in Vienna. That story is coming. This drama is weighing on my heart, so felt like sharing.

Hoping you all had a wonderful Mother's Day, full of relaxation, pampering, and time spent with your favorite people. I thought the below graphic that a friend posted on Facebook is well stated. I appreciate all of you and hope your day was full of joy and happiness. 


May 4, 2022

funniest memory from our trip & some of our stops in Budapest

Coach and I saw so much in our 8 days abroad. Ed was an excellent tour guide. 

Awesome tour guide along with a
family in the background
 that was on our tour.
 
* After our tour of the parliament building (without Ed, who was in class. He's done the tour more than once with visitors), we met Ed and did a free walking tour of the castle district. Beautiful.

* We had dinner that night with two of Ed's new friends. One is from Sweden and one is from Norway. They were very nice young men. Both a few years older than Ed, graduate studies. We so enjoyed talking to them about where they've been, how many languages they speak, their cultural differences from where they were from, and their different overall experiences. 

One of bazillion beautiful
churches that we saw.
I believe this is one
in the castle district.

* They were very taken aback when we paid for the meal, but we insisted. Later they texted Ed to say that was not how it would've been done in their home countries, but after thinking about it they felt it was very kind. 

* I was trying hard to engage in the dinner conversation and I didn't want to be a fussy dinner companion, so I asked few questions before I ordered my meal. Well. Everyone enjoyed their food so  much and my duck was awful. So awful. One of the worst meals ever. I was dying for a floss stick, and a plate of food. I was so hungry after eating. 

Not my meal.

* In order to get to the dinner that night, we had to take a bus without Ed. We were meeting him. Let's just say, I lost Coach in the shuffle of trying to look for a bus and I had no phone. He had the one functioning phone that we were using. It was frightening. This is the beginning of my EXTREME frustration with Google maps, and Coach's obsession with it. I could SEE that buses with the number 33 were stopping just up the street, but Coach was in full-on hero-worship of Google maps. He insisted that Google was sending him in another direction. Anyway, we were only separated from one another for a few minutes. I feared that he'd hopped on the bus thinking I was right behind him and I had no way of contacting him. 

Shoes next to the Danube River to
remember the Jews who
were shot there during World War II. 

* After dinner, Ed took us to the ruin bars. Very interesting, unique bars made from the ruins of buildings that were about to be demolished. The bar owners add quirky furniture or odd pieces like a bike or a car or a large owl and the space takes on a unique aesthetic. My companions enjoyed trying various beers. Celiac disease means I can't drink beer, not sure if you knew that. No worries, I miss sheet cake and my favorite cereal more than beer. I sometimes had a glass of wine, but jetlag was still making me sleepy so I often just listened to them critique their choices. 

This is the wrong side. Unimpressed, note
the gates around the top
because of construction.

* On the 3rd day in Budapest, 
(tempting to sing  . . .  MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME) we went to Gellert Hill to hike. It was supposed to have great views. Ed told us to get off the bus or taxi and walk up the hill. Well, we were dropped off around the corner and couldn't quite see where to go. Don't get me started on the failings of Google maps/ a certain someone's reliance on Google maps. We ended up walking around the back side of the hill. The very top was under construction and we were like HUH. THAT WAS IT? And started to walk down, but then I spotted people taking a different path. Thank goodness because we almost missed the whole thing. No views to speak of from the backside. The front of the hill had gorgeous views. 

* This marks one of our favorite laughs on the trip. A couple asked us to take their photo with their phone. SURE, NO PROBLEM. I'm not sure what country they were from - Italy? Spain? they had dark complexions, but let's just say they do things different in their home country. The woman handed me her phone, sat down next to her beau on the little brick ledge, looked at me for a nanosecond and then faced her beau and proceeded to suck his face off. 

My computer has decided to be opposed
to cropping so you are left with this
creepy image. You can wonder if we
 are actually making out like
crazy. I'm not one to kiss and tell.
This is the view we almost missed.

Me (completely caught off guard, and sort of mumbling the following-  quietly):  OH, UM. OK THEN. SURE. OH, MORE. YOU . . . UM . . . OK, A FEW MORE PHOTOS WHILE FACING THAT WAY TOO THEN. WELL, I THINK WE'VE GOT IT. VERY GOOD. YOU'RE GONNA LOVE THESE. REAL KEEPERS. 

* They offered to take our photo next, and I'm sure they were confused by our lack of public display of affection. We were giggling so much, and oddly enough chose to look at the camera rather than into one another's eyes. Our tongues remained in our mouths while we posed. Personal preference, I guess.

* Ed showed us around the market which is right next to his college buildings. THIS IS WHERE I BUY AN APPLE EVERY DAY. THIS BOOTH HAS THE BEST . . . etc. I was missing my morning protein shake, so we ordered a fruit smoothie from a little stall. Um. Room temperature, no yogurt or anything, just fruit. Still drank it, but coulda used a little chill, if you ask me. 

The market.

* When we crossed the street to the market, Ed took my hand. He held my hand as he showed us around. It was very sweet.

Later that afternoon, we met Ed and the 3 of us hopped on a train to Vienna. The Vienna airbnb was also nice and also in a prime location, well done me. There was something that interfered with my sleep, in Vienna. Feel free to take a guess. I was kept awake by this thing, and I was not even sure what it was. Initially I thought it was a washing machine in the above apartment. Now I've completely thrown you off track. 

May 2, 2022

Getting there is half the fun, NOT - Europe, part 1 *plus a prom pic

Prom was Saturday night. I took this picture outside my folks' house. They live down the street from the golf course clubhouse that was used for photos, sadly monsoon/tornado happened during the photo time, so it was all inside.

She hated her hair. Paid to have someone do it, but found it too formal, wedding-ish. It was tough for her to break out of her I'M CASUAL DAMN IT mode and stick with her I DON'T FOLLOW THE CROWD persona. Curly and I insisted that her hair looked perfect for prom. 





***********

Coach and I left for Europe on March 22nd. Sheesh - that seems like forever ago. I had lists and lists of things the kids needed to do, what they should eat, who they needed to drive, when they needed to babysit, what they were expected to clean. 

As I made the lists, I reviewed it with the appropriate children. 

Me:  Mini, you're gonna drive Reg to practice on Tuesday and Lad can pick him up. On Sunday when you drive him, it is the closer practice location - not the far away place. Are you listening?

Mini:  (waves hand, while looking at phone) Yeah, whatever. Just write it on the schedule.

Intelligent readers, you know how this ends, don't you? 

At the airport before we EVEN.GOT.ON.THE.PLANE, some dramatic text messages were exchanged. Mini was melting down. She and Lad were disagreeing about who was driving Reg, or something. I got involved. Mini got snippy. Lad got downright offended. It was ugly. I looked at Coach and asked him:  SHOULD WE JUST STAY HOME?

Mini texted to clarify her  "I'M ALREADY DOING ENOUGH", it wasn't directed at me, it was directed at Reg. Well. I told her to not direct that nonsense at anyone because I sure do a hell of a lot for HER. Step up, do your thing, and zip it. 

Sigh.

Before we boarded the plane, I asked if they'd be serving a GF meal. I saw no place on the reservation to request a GF meal. An employee assured me it would be GF. 

When we boarded, I asked a flight attendant the same question. She looked alarmed. If I hadn't requested a GF meal, they wouldn't have anything for me. I wanted to run back into the terminal and buy myself some dinner. This was the 2nd moment when I considered cancelling the trip and going home. 

While we were in flight, the very kind flight attendants raced around to find me food. It wasn't their fault that the airline makes requesting a special meal at the time of booking about as easy as getting a live person to answer a call on FAREBOOM (site we booked thru). 

Please cheese and fruit do not cause my
 gut to behave as if I've overloaded
 on cheese and fruit. 

First they brought me cheese and fruit. I'd packed cheese in my bag in a small cooler and had already eaten my fill of fruit for the day, but I scarfed it down fearing I might not eat again for 11 hours. I crossed my fingers that an abundance of fruit and cheese might not leave me with an abundant bathroom issue while in flight. 

Next they brought me a beautiful plate of beef, veggies, and potatoes. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. The woman held out the hot plate, and before I could grab it she gently jerked it away from my outstretched hand, telling me she couldn't be sure if the beef gravy was GF. 

Inserting my finger knuckle in my mouth and biting hard, I whimpered *internally. Before she walked away, she asked in her German accent:  CAN YOU PUT A BITE IN YOUR MOUTH AND TELL US IF IT HAS GLUTEN ON IT? 

Well, shucks. That is one super power that I SO FLIPPING WISH I HAD. 

Next they returned with a dinner of fish. Gross - that was in internal thought, my outside face radiated happiness, and thanked them from the bottom of my heart. Then I inhaled the fish before I could think about it. 

If I continue to be this detailed in my trip-sharing, you will be reading posts about my 8 days away until Halloween. Bullet points it is:

* I slept very little on the flight. Maybe a total of 2 hours? Combo of being uncomfortable and smelling my own morning breath in my mask. 

The flight updates were spoken in German and then again in English. They were long winded the first time around, so twice? I was like HEY, I'M TRYING TO WATCH A MOVIE HERE.

* When the guy asked if I wanted a drink, I asked it if there was a charge. There wasn't. Let's go! I decided to drink whatever they offered me in hopes that I'd just pass out. Coach's eyebrows shot way up to his hairline when I flagged the guy down and hollered, I'LL HAVE ANOTHER GLASS OF WINE, PLEASE. 

* After landing, we went to Ed's dorm (SO GREAT TO SEE HIM) and napped collapsed into a coma on his double bed while he went to class. He'd given us an itinerary. I woke up 2 hours later and nudged Coach:  WE'RE BEHIND SCHEDULE!

* We could now get into our airbnb. We took a cab. The driver dropped us off a street over from our place, but didn't mention that. We walked up and down that street with our luggage looking for a door that resembled the door in the photo I had for about 45 minutes. Paramount to torture. Eventually we found our place, dumped our stuff, changed clothes, and raced off to see St. Stephen's Basilica which was steps from our airbnb. Awesome location. 

* I texted Ed:  WE ARE BEHIND SCHEDLE. SKIPPING TO #3. WILL DO THE OTHER THINGS LATER? 

* Ed admitted that he'd texted his siblings:  I'M ABOUT TO LEAD OUR OLD AND CLUELESS PARENTS AROUND BUDAPEST. This was not an understatement. 

The parliament building in Budapest.
So beautiful.
 We took a tour the next morning
while Ed was in class. Incredible. 
* We had dinner at a tiny place. The two guys enjoyed something authentic and delish from the menu (the theme of the week), and I convinced the waiter to make me a plain piece of chicken and maybe I had a vegetable? The waiter felt bad that I couldn't eat my first 8 requests, so he gave me a glass of wine on the house. 

* Ed bought tickets in advance for us to go on a boat tour at night to see the city lights. I was sleep deprived and had finished a glass of wine. Good thing there was a boat to blame for my swaying. I fell asleep sitting up at our table several times, which I'm pretty sure Ed took photos of. 

* Musicians entertained the passengers. They eventually came to each table and played something from the visitor's home country. We asked if he could do something Irish vs Yankee Doodle, or whatever. I could listen to the above video all day long. 

Can you name the tune in the video? What music would you have requested? Do you sleep on international flights? Do you ever laugh at the tiny portions served on a plane, or is that just a Shenanigan thing? Not gonna lie, we have some big appetites. 


April 27, 2022

join the crowd for lunch? Or watch from a live feed and keep your distance (recommended)

This was not an intentional hide-the-face pic. Mini was bending, to avoid the wind? Between photos. Plus she'd said I was only allowed one, so maybe she thought I was going to actually follow that order. Silly girl. Mini and I were at admitted student day on Sunday and Monday this week. Thanks for your patience while I was off doing mom related fun stuff. Being on campus and hearing about what's to come for this kid was a pinch-me moment. 

**********

For the remainder of this school year, I have the twins, L and El, C and A, and Ricky. Delightful, supportive parents who I enjoy very much. I also enjoy their kids. 

Ironically, Ricky's mom teaches preschool in Johnny's district. *Pausing here to recognize - WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? I babysat for this woman since Oct. and knew what district she taught in, but never she taught preschool. When I asked her, I was like STOP IT!

She looked at her list. Ricky's mom didn't request a screening when she registered him. This ticked Ricky's mom off, because it'll now take longer to get Johnny services since he won't be assessed until after he starts preschool in the fall. 

After I wrote my letter to Nelly, Ricky's mom let me know that Johnny's mom called the school and requested a screening. Unfortunately they had no screenings left, but at least Nelly seemed to be coming around. She was confident that my letter made an impact. For Johnny's sake, I sure hope so. 

Lela and 'El' (who will be a year in June and is a favorite and doesn't cry constantly. She's not spoiled). This was the background sound of my days while Lela was there especially if El was also having a moment.

*********

The woman who cuts my hair was disgusted by my stories of Wil's folks yanking him and leaving me high and dry, and of Johnny's mom not coming back suddenly after I'd held a space for her and skipped out on other opportunities. At my next haircut, I'll share with her BB and his wack-a-doodle folks. Haircut Chica gets it, because she provides a service for people. She deals with cancellations and inconsideration too. 

I told her how difficult this daycare thing has been. Should I even bother trying to find anyone new? It felt dicey. So many nutter-butters out there, and I don't mean tasty cookie variety. 

Haircut Chica told me that she knew someone who was closing her daycare in the SAME.TOWN.WHERE.I.LIVE. Huh? She reached out and encouraged the woman who was shutting down (I later learned that she's closing because of a difficult parent) to give out my number to any teachers looking for a new in-home daycare. 

Two sisters reached out to me from that closing daycare. Thanks to Haricut Chica. A few days before I left for Europe, I met the 'sistas'. One needs care for two kids 3 days a week. The other needs care 2 days a week for 1 kid. They hoped the cousins could overlap at least one day. Babysitting math is not as easy as it seems, friends. 

They were at the former daycare for 6 years with their older kids. That spoke volumes to me. It means:  they get it. They hired me on the spot for next school year after I told them that I honestly just want to work with nice families who appreciate what I do. I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  THIS AIN'T ROCKET SCIENCE. Having every slot filled for the fall meant I could relax in Europe, at least on the days when I was fed. More on that later.

When I described how Wil's family left for fear of Goddard germs, these sisters shook their heads. HOW SILLY. A bit later they asked me if I knew a particular family in the next culdesac. I was like YEP, THAT'S WIL'S GRANDMA. HE WAS GOING THERE ON THE DAYS HE ISN'T WITH ME. Both sisters chuckled. They know Wil's mother. They went to high school together. They again shook their heads. One of them was like NOT AT ALL SURPRISED. I almost hugged her, but didn't want to scare her away and end up with an open spot again. 

I assumed Ricky wouldn't come back in the fall based on his mom telling me that she'd probably just send him to the all-day preK that his sister attends. After I was hired by the dynamic-sister-duo, I let Ricky's mom know that I probably wouldn't have space for him. She also wanted him at my house 5 days a week, which I was trying to avoid.

While in Europe, I saw Ricky's mom post on FB that she was looking for an in home daycare for Ricky and his sis after preschool. He'd qualified for the district preschool, meaning it's free and she was thinking of just sending him there vs the all day deal after all.

One mom, who used to cut my hair before I switched to the curly specialist who cuts Curly's hair, lives in our district. She commented on Ricky's mom's post. Guess who she recommended? ME. I felt like a turd. Like I'd sent Ricky's people packing. I msg'd Ricky's mom and said, IF YOU FIND SOMETHING, NO PROBLEM, BUT IF YOU WANT RICKY AND SIS TO GET OFF THE BUS AT MY HOUSE IN THE AFTERNOONS WE CAN WORK SOMETHING OUT. She and I chatted when I got back from Europe and sure enough, he and his 4 year old sister will get off the bus at my house 5 afternoons in the fall. 

His sister has come to my house a few times this school year when her current preschool was closed. Let me paint a picture:  mother-hen type who likes to read board books to babies and follow directions and keep everyone playing happily. Score. I should probably pay them to let me keep her here. Can you say, 4 YEAR OLD ASSISTANT? Plus one of the new 'sista' families has a 4 year old who doesn't nap. I love that I've already found a playmate for this little girl, and solved my HOW DO I KEEP NAP TIME AS A SACRED GET-THINGS-DONE TIME FOR ME problem? 

How great that I'll be able to chill on the couch and eat bon bons, as you know that is my dream. The bummer:  I was hoping to have Fridays off, but Annie (C and A's mom) needs care on Fridays. I've told her that I will watch her kids, but I'll plan to take off quite a few Fridays in order to visit my 3 college kids in the fall,  or travel with Coach when he teaches, or just take a mental health day. Now I also have Ricky and my 4 yr old assistant Friday afternoons, but that mom also knows I plan to take off a pile of  Fridays faster than you can say I NEED SOME ME TIME. At least there will be no infants on Fridays. Searching for the sliver lining here. Did ya notice? 

My home will be crowded, assuming no one else quits. The youngest, El, will be a year end of June. This is what my fall looks like, at lunch time after Ricky and 4 year old assistant are back from preschool, I will have:  8 on Mondays, 7 on Tuesdays, 8 on Wednesdays, 5 on Thursdays, and 4 on my 'day-off' Fridays, subtract 2 preschool kids from each day to get my morning number, and subtract an additional one from Tues and Wed mornings as those are the days L and C will each attend a preschool. 

You were warned, daycare math is hard. 

You know what else is hard? Thinking about the math that will present itself after my retirement, because the funds will dry up. My focus right now:  college tuition, but Mini's scholarship has helped a lot with that pressure. If Reg and Curly get the Evans or a partial sport scholarship, my saved funds will be reallocated. There will always be something, like weddings . . . down the road. Ed has told me that I could be done working sooner, which would be nice. But our couches are 16 years old. Plus, travel. See what I'm talking about? 

Please let me know in the comments which day you'd like to visit me and my rascals in the fall for lunch, or if you'd prefer a live feed of the nonsense and good times. Is it wrong to pray that Finn is settled into a condo with Lad in the fall?

April 25, 2022

text-a-rama, exploding heads, and nice letters

If you've missed the last few posts, I'm bringing everyone up to speed on my daycare drama. Once I get this off my chest, I'll move onto other topics like Europe and Florida and a new favorite I've been working on called 'WHAT WE'RE SAYING.' Thanks for bearing with me.

When both Johnny and Lila started getting dropped off, Nelly texted me maybe 6 times a day. Mind blown. HOW ARE THEY? . . . . DOING OK? . . .  DID THEY GO DOWN FOR NAPS. I responded the first few days, and then I ignored it. If there is an issue, you will know. I mean, seriously? I have my hands full here and if I texted every mom updates all day, who would feed and change the babies? THINK. 

Lila cried unless she was held. I asked Nelly if she liked the bouncy seat, the play mat, the exersaucer, WHAT IS HER HAPPY PLACE? 

Nelly:  OH, SORRY. SHE'S JUST SPOILED. I REALLY DON'T PUT HER DOWN AT HOME. I JUST HOLD HER. 

Hmm. She was over 5 months old. What on earth? And how exactly did you think that was gonna work out at my house where I can't literally carry her all day long? 

*********

Fast forward about a month:  In February, Delilah and I took the kids to this cute little forest preserve like 12 minutes away. It has a great, new indoor learning center. Sometimes they take out a snake for us to pet, or we get to watch them feed the snapping turtle. We love it there. IT.IS.A.TREAT. 

As usual, I posted pics and videos of our adventures on FB to our tiny parent group. The parents love seeing what their kids are up to. I asked the twins' mom once if she thought I posted too much. She was like, UM, I'M A BIG FAN. THEY'RE MY KIDS. SO NO. NOT TOO MUCH. 

Nelly texted me afterwards:  I LOVE THAT YOU TAKE THE KIDS TO FUN PLACES. IN THE FUTURE , CAN YOU PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN ADVANCE. ICE. 

I called Becky. Begged her to talk me down. WHAT THE EF IS ICE? It was 50 degrees out, no ice. Becky did some research:  IN CASE OF EMERGENCY. Who's emergency? Mine? I have my phone with me, if I get a flat tire or run out of diapers or lose my sense of humor, I will reach out to my support system. Like, what? FYI, I described my regular outings when we met. This wasn't new info. I even brought a friend along. 

Johnny hadn't been on an outing with us in the fall, because he was only with me one day a week. I didn't bring them anywhere on 'his' day, because he was still transitioning. Also, while he was once a week, she started him on half days. She asked me if he could stay long enough to watch the other kids go down for naps, so he grasped the concept. 

Well, we got busy having fun outside.  When Nelly showed up, we hadn't done naps yet. Things were running late. 

Nelly:  OH THAT'S FINE. ICAN CARRY HIM UP WHEN YOU BRING THEM UP FOR NAPS SO HE CAN SEE WHAT NAP TIME LOOKS LIKE. 

Me (eyes bugging out of my head):  OH, NOPE. THAT WON'T WORK. I HAVE TEENAGERS. 

**the version that staying sealed in my panicking brain:  HELL TO THE NO, ARE YOU GOING UP INTO THOSE BEDROOMS**  It's not like there were dead bodies that I feared she'd discover, but  - well, there was THIS: 

Let's pause here to imagine Nelly entering
this room to reach the baby bed in the upper
left corner. As if she would've made it past
the open door before running screaming
from my home. Looking back, that
 might've been for the best.
I died laughing inside.

BTW Delilah noticed in 20 minutes that day that something was off with Johnny. For instance, he wouldn't touch the tanks that the turtles swim in. All the other kids had their face pressed up to the glass to watch the turtles. 

Also, Johnny had been having horrible, awful diarrhea, sometimes requiring a change of clothes. When Nelly arrived to pick up, I took a deep breath then responded to her text, and other 'stuff'. Note:  I'm remembering the bullet points here, but I wasn't as abrupt as this sounds, trust me. I'm not a monster. 

Me:  I TOLD YOU WE GO ON OUTINGS. NO I DON'T ALWAYS LET PARENTS KNOW IF WE'RE GOING SOMEWHERE. A LOT DEPENDS ON MORNING NAPS, WEATHER, ETC. I LIKE TO 'READ THE ROOM' TO SEE IF THE KIDS ARE UP FOR AN OUTING. I DON'T HAVE TIME TO TEXT EACH PARENT AND ASK THEIR PERMISSION. 

ALSO, HOW DID JOHNNY'S ASSESSMENT GO? 

Nelly :  He didn't have one, he just needs socialization. 

Me:  HE NEEDS TO BE ASSESSED SO THAT I KNOW HOW TO CARE FOR HIM. YOU ARE LOSING GROUND. HE GETS SERVICES TILL AGE 3. HE'S  NOW 2.5. 

AND, JOHNNY CAN'T COME HERE WITH HORRIBLE DIARREHA. I DON'T CARE FOR KIDS WITH THE RUNS, SAME AS VOMIT. YOU CAN'T DROP HIM OFF WITH A 12 OUNCE CUP OF JUICE. 

*my kids knew this. they were like why is he drinking juice? 

Nelly:  Well, that's what I give him to take his medicine - (*medicine that she's put him on, for allergies that she thinks he has, no diagnosis - exactly what she told me). What's he supposed to drink then? (for real? did she just ask me this?)

Me:  ASK YOUR DOCTOR. 

Nelly:  My pediatrician says it's OK for him to have loose stools until he's ready to be potty trained. 

At this point my head exploded. The end. 

Kidding, sort of. 

I want 5 minutes alone with this pediatrician. Please, universe - make this happen. Nelly admitted that she'd just changed docs when Lila was born. My suspicion is that her original pediatrician was suggesting that Johnny might have some things that needed to be addressed, and she switched because she didn't want to face it.

Honestly, this breaks my heart. Truly. I feel for her. I gathered that she was in denial. However, it wasn't fair to ask me to babysit for him if she wasn't willing to seek answers for legitimate concerns that I had. Getting him help might very well improve his situation. Not to mention the constant runs? Her doctor? The worst. 

Prior to this, Nelly was so excited to see Johnny participate with the other kids in the videos that I took. We did Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear touch the ground. Ring around the Rosie. I hid teddy bears and had the kids find them after we read, Going On a Bear Hunt book, one of our favorites. I'd told her a million times that he'd do well with a routine and he was starting to get a feel for our day. 

She texted the next day after I was frank with her. 'Johnny won't be coming today.' I knew then, she'd not be bringing her kids back. I was right. She texted me that weekend to say that her husband lost his job. Untrue. He's a union construction worker for the city. I know he isn't out of work. If it was true, she still would've brought Johnny here one day a week for the socialization factor that she was so adamant that he needed. 

I reached back out to the family with the newborn and asked if they found someone. They had. Super annoying. A week later, I wrote Nelly a letter and mailed it. Mini read it. OH, THIS IS A NICE LETTER, I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE AN ANGRY LETTER. 

Me:  I'M TICKED OFF, BUT I FEEL LIKE SHE DOESN'T GET IT. I WANTED HER TO KNOW THAT KIDS HAVE ISSUES, MINE DID/DO. IT'S PART OF THE DEAL. IT DOESN'T DO THE KID ANY GOOD TO AVOID SEEKING HELP AND SERVICES. 

It was a nice letter. What she did was crappy. After she left, I tried AGAIN to fill that spot. Along came Bubble Boy and his WAKE-UP-MY-BABY parents. 

I told you. Ridiculous school year, overflowing with nutty people. Super frustrating. 

Which was worse in your estimation? Bubble Boy, or Johnny with his 'diarrhea is fine, just ask my pediatrician' and here's my baby who I guarantee will cry ALL DAY except when she sleeps. Or Wilhelm with his parents whose need for control over the other families who use my daycare made them asshats. Hard to choose, isn't it? 

April 20, 2022

enter moose with a motor

After CL pulled her kid, she never called Mini or Curly to babysit again. Ever. I assume she was worried that Mini or Curly would give Wil covid since the twins were going to Goddard. Mini had been babysitting for them on the weekends VERY regularly. If not every weekend, then every other. I didn't buy the  'my work schedule changed'  and this makes it more clear that this wasn't the case. If her work schedule changed, why is she unable to ask the girls to babysit? Poor Mini lost her main babysitting gig during the school year AND the 3x a week in the summer. 

Caring for the kids is a family affair. 

13 second video of Coach playing with Will. 

Listen to that giggle. At his house, 

his folks just plug him in to a screen. Think of what they gave up. 

CL lives around the corner. We will eventually cross paths. While it was nice that she paid me two weeks, she messed up my entire school year. 

**********

Another mom I sit for knew someone looking for childcare. I told her to feel free to share my contact info. It was early September and I wanted to fill my opening. 

The inquiring mom, Nelly (as in nervous-Nelly), came to meet me with her husband and two kids. She didn't need care till January because she was on maternity leave after having a baby girl, Lila. Johnny had turned 2 in August. She only needed care 3 days a week. Perfect. Or was it?

While I chatted with the parents, Johnny ran around the room on his tip toes. He was stimming with his hands raised in the air - like looked like he was convulsing, climbing on the couch and attempting to climb up the back of the couch. He didn't use words. He was like a moose with a motor. Before they left, I asked the mom if she might want to drop Johnny off once a week right away so he could get acclimated before January. 

Nelly: YEAH, THAT SOUNDS GREAT. HE JUST NEEDS SOCIALIZATION. 

*In my mind I was thinking, we gotta get this kid with the program. Lawdy, he seemed like a lot. When Tank called I told him the story. He was like WELL, I GIVE YOU A FEW WEEKS, YOU'LL HAVE HIM FIGURED OUT. 

Not gonna lie, I love that my kids have confidence in my super powers.

Another family with 1 newborn that I met on FB did a phone interview with me around the same time. They seemed very nice and very interested. They also didn't need care till January. They were interviewing other candidates. 

Nelly texted that night shortly after we met. "We really want the kids with you. I think you'll be perfect. Please, please will you take us?" She explained that her kid had never been with a sitter except for grandparents, so she decided to take me up on the one day a week offer to ease him into the 3 days a week. 

I let the other family know that I'd filled the spot. I'd been on the fence, but the fact that they knew one of my current moms mattered. In hindsight, I may have weighted that too heavily. It was hard to tell them no before I'd met with them in person, but timing is everything and I took the family that asked me first. As if we were going to dance. 

IF THIS WAS A DANCE, IT WAS THE KIND THAT MAKES ME DIZZY. 

**********

The first day Johnny was dropped off happened to be a day Mini took a mental health day from school. By the time she was awake, I was about to lose my ever lasting mind. This kid. The stimming was intense. It was like an electric current was going through his body. He screamed nonstop and he was enormous, so not easy to hold. The other kids were afraid of him. He was lunging at them and I wasn't sure if he wanted to hug them or what. I tried to hug him in case he was looking for some comfort, but that didn't seem to help.  

Mini:  IT'S JUST HIS FIRST DAY, HE'LL BE FINE. *a few hours later, she'd changed her tune:  YOU CANNOT TAKE THIS KID. HE IS A NIGHTMARE.TELL THEM NO. 

At pickup time the mom, Annie, who referred Nelly to me, said:  I'M SO SORRY. I DIDN'T KNOW. (huh?) NELLY ASKED ME TO GET TOGETHER YESTERDAY SO JOHNNY WOULD KNOW MY KIDS A LITTLE IN ADVANCE OF COMING HERE. HER HUSBAND AND MY BROTHER ARE BEST BUDS, BUT I DIDN'T KNOW HER THAT WELL. JOHNNY SEEMS TO HAVE SOME ISSUES AND HE'S NEVER NAPPED ANYWHERE BUT HOME. IF YOU WANT TO TELL THEM THAT YOU CAN'T WATCH THEIR KIDS, YOU WON'T HURT MY FEELINGS. DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO.

Oh, brother. I was worried that Johnny wasn't gonna settle in. So . . . I reached out to another teacher in my town who posted her need of an in-home daycare on FB. She was looking for 2 -3 days a week. She lives so close, has one 2.5 year old, Ricky. We met. She hired me. 

In my mind, Ricky was my backup kid. If Johnny didn't settle in over the next few weeks, I'd let his mom know that it wasn't gonna work. Then I'd still have Ricky 2 days a week. I was STILL trying to recapture the lost income from not having Wil on my schedule 3 days a week for four months leading up to January when Johnny and Lila would start. 

I was surprised when Ricky showed up for his first day. Um, Ricky is a very large 'little' guy. When he walked in my house on his first day, his mom was like YEAH, HE'S 50 POUNDS. WE JUST STARTED HIM ON A DIET. He's 2.5 years old. He was still in diapers. That was unpleasant. After a week, I told the mom he needed to be potty trained. No beating around the bush here. There was no way I was gonna continue to change him, he was bigger than most 8 year olds. I had to help him up and down off of the floor to change him. They don't make diapers in his size, so the weak diapers weren't great. They leaked. Fortunately he was easy going and got along well with the other 2 year old boys. He was excited to have buddies at my house and he wanted to go on the potty like his pals. The mom and I teamed up and by Christmas he was trained. 

I believe in 'the little things' but trust me, getting him in underwear was more of a big thing. 

Meanwhile, I felt like Johnny was adjusting a bit, but he was also only here once a week. The mom texted me A LOT. 

I decided that I'd waited too long to let Wil's folks know he needed to be assessed. Their refusal to admit that he had issues made caring for him very challenging. Nelly seemed unaware. What she considered a lack of socialization the rest of the world calls on-the-spectrum. I'm not opposed to caring for kids with issues, but I'm NOT specialized. I have no training to work with autistic children and if the parents aren't able to give me suggestions, because they don't recognize what's going on, then where does that leave us? 

I suggested to Nelly, after Johnny's 2nd or 3rd time at my house, that he might benefit from an assessment. His lack of speech, his flapping arms, his toe walking, his difficulty transitioning were possibly clues of a bigger issue. I again referenced the story of the boy in Becky's care who got therapy for a processing disorder and made enormous strides. I also pointed out that appointments might be easier to handle while on maternity leave.

She met with her pediatrician who said she saw no reason for an eval. Huh? This after 3 minutes with him? 

*I later learned that Nelly liked this doc because she was 'old school'. Um, an out of date pediatrician isn't old school, she's just uninformed. Nelly told me that she had appointments set up. I later learned that she didn't have him assessed. 

Do you think Johnny is still in my care? Do you think Coach was so good at family room soccer entertainment, he quit his physical therapy gig and took over for me? Or what do you think will happen next as the world turns at Ernie's daycare?