February 28, 2022

More adrenaline, different kid(s)

Update:  Mini's interview went really well. One man told her she was a breath of fresh air, not gonna lie - I was told the SAME thing when I interviewed for a job to interview people to sell life insurance. Proof that her blog-name fits perfectly. She said they loved her. Me:  what's not to love, I mean not like they're gonna see your room. She finds out in a letter (no more emails to miss) in 2 weeks.

More adrenaline later that night:  (after the Shedd & the scholarship news SAME DAY)

Reg had an away game Tuesday night. Talk about intense. When this team beat us badly earlier in the season, Reg was beside himself.

This time he brought his A game. At one point, he guarded the ball handler so well that the kid was called for having the ball for 5 seconds. Turnover. We were down 14-4 for awhile. Then we came back, and our opponent was stuck at 14 points for quite a while. Reg his a 3 at the buzzer to end the 1st quarter. 

By the time Coach showed up after work, I was shaking like a leaf. My poor nerves. 

It was a very physical game. In the 3rd quarter, their guy knocked one of our players to the ground from midair during a breakaway layup. The players from both sides started pushing each other. Reg was uninvolved, sitting on the bench with 3 fouls. The ref called technical fouls on both teams. 

Before the 'incident' - I snapped pic of Reg's
 coach talking to him. I asked the girls,
Yes, to answer your question - the girls
 think I'm crazy. I think I was just giddy.
 The scholarship news. Heading out
of town the next morning. My
mind was all over the place.

4th quarter:  It was neck and neck. An opponent jumped in the air while guarding Reg, came down throwing Reg to the ground - like faceplant style, and landing with his knee in his back. 

It was like SWEEP THE LEG from Karate Kid, only it was more like tackle #21. So, not really like 'sweep the leg' at all.  

Coach and I jumped up. Reg was laying on the ground face down, writhing in pain. His coach ran out there. I ordered Coach to go. HELLO, PT IN THE HOUSE, MAKE WAY. He stood in the bleachers instead, craning his neck, his hand was clutched on my shoulder, holding me in a sitting position. I was crying. Parents from our team also jumped up. We were all ready to charge the floor. Parental instincts in overdrive.

Coach finally released me. He sat down. I popped up. Still crying, I let loose. YOU NEED TO CALL THIS GAME CLOSER. YOU LET THIS HAPPEN. SOMEONE'S GONNA  GET HURT. SHAME ON YOU. 

Mini and Curly might never recover from the embarrassment of their mother's emotional outburst. Coach got a grip on me again, otherwise I probably would've been out on the floor getting in the refs' faces.

Reg came off the court. Limping a little. Another kid shot his free throws, made both. This was a relief, because Reg rarely misses free throws. Once a coach has come onto the court for an injured player, that player cannot re-enter the game right away. Reg checked back into the game at the next dead ball.

He had to ice his knee when we got home, but otherwise he said he was fine. My guess is he was more sore than normal, but he didn't let on. 

We won the game, barely. It was AMAZING. Reg probably had 20 points. My knees were shaking so bad I asked Mini if she wanted to drive my car home for me. It had been a DAY. 

Reg said his assistant coach told him that his mom looked like she was gonna beat up the refs. Me:  AND YOU'RE SURPISED? 

Things that went on while I was en-route/in Colorado:

I called Coach between flights. 



Mind blown. So who was I speaking to when I said:  Remember on Thursday to open the garage door and wake Curly up before you leave for work BECAUSE SHE'S BABYSITTING? *

Solution to keeping the house quiet during Mini's interview tips:  Curly take the 2 kids to play in the basement. 

Is it wrong that I enjoyed relaxing in CO while they got the house in order for Coach's patient to chat with Mini? I left the house in pretty good shape, but if the fam is going to enjoy a few meals/down time in my absence, well - let your imagination run wild. 

Friday morning, I woke up to a few texts. Ed:  CHECK OUT THE EMERGENCY WEATHER IN LONDON RIGHT NOW. He'd arrived the day before, but who sends a message like this, LOOK AT ME MOM AND DAD - I'M IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION.

There was a message from Coach asking for updates. No RESPONSE. 

Ed's using WHAT'S APP and needs to be in WIFI, so I figured he wasn't in WIFI . . . but part of me was like WHAT IS GOING ON? I emailed faithful reader Charlie (HI CHARLIE) in the UK. She assured me that since the UK isn't accustomed to severe weather, they were being overly cautious. Ed responded, saying he was fine but the weather was making sight seeing unpleasant. 

Message from my adrenal glands:  ENOUGH ALREADY.

What excitement is happening in your neck of the woods? 

February 23, 2022

adrenaline doping: Shedd & Mini's stuff

 Excitement the day before I flew to Colorado:  

*  Mini skipped her morning to accompany me to the Shedd Aquarium downtown with four little guys. I drove the Great White and was thrilled to find a parking spot on the street. Even more exciting - no need to parallel park my huge van as the spot in front was unoccupied. We had a blast.

*  I brought Mini's vax card, but she left her license at home, since she wasn't driving. The Shedd:  SORRY FOLKS, THE SHEDD'S CLOSED TO PEOPLE WHO CAN'T PROVE THEIR IDENTITY. Lad was still home, so he took a photo of her license and sent it to us. I almost had to pull the THIS IS MY DAUGHTER, SEE THE RESEMBLANCE? I CAN VOUCH FOR HER card. 

*  On the drive to the city (47 minutes, but only 24 home, thank you traffic), I realized that Mini had never opened a letter that had come from Creighton the day before, because she'd hung out with friends after her last b-ball game. 

*  Brown-nose girl, who beat Mini for class president, had gotten a letter that day saying that she didn't get the Evans. I held my breath as Coach shuffled through the stack of mail. I was like FASTER, FASTER! Mini had no letter from the Evans, which we hoped was good news but we also thought:  maybe her rejection letter will come tomorrow? Meanwhile, the Creighton letter got lost in the shuffle. 

*  She ripped open the Creighton letter when we got home before lunch: 


She later admitted that she tends to skim these type of letters. I don't advise it. In addition to the $5,000 (which is on top of the initial $24,000 they gave her when they accepted her, she is an alternate for the Scotts full ride scholarship. If someone who was awarded the scholarship decides not to go to Creighton, she might get it. Wow. I had to chase her out the door to get to school for her afternoon classes. She wanted to sit and bask in the excitement. 

*  Fast forward a few hours after school:  Mini was sitting in the kitchen looking at her phone. 


Our celebration was interrupted by Mini's moaning. WAIT, IT SAYS TO RESPOND TO THIS EMAIL BY FEB 14TH. Um, this was the 15th. She realized that they'd resent her the email because she'd never replied back on Feb. 9th. WHEN.IT.WAS.ORIGINALLY.SENT. Sheesh. 

email oversight explained:  The committee instructed applicants NOT to use a school email. They wanted a personal email. Since the school doesn't allow them to check personal emails on their school computers, Mini doesn't look at her personal email very often, or very closely - because she swears she's looked at it, but was expecting a letter not an email. All three older boys got a rejection letter in the mail, so she didn't know she'd get an email if she got an interview. Assumed it would also be a letter. ALSO, she realized that she input her parents' email address wrong:  combining my email with her school ending. 

She's so pretty. 

There were tears as she entered freak out mode. Would this be a black mark against her? I assured her that they'd resent the email because they wanted her to respond. The interview was set for the 24th. NOW, if she'd ignored the email and missed the interview, then black mark. Begging her to relax was not really helping her relax. 

There was a form she needed to complete and send back, ranking her top 4 Evans school choices. She tried to type, but her hands weren't functioning. We switched spots at the desktop, and she dictated responses to me, her cool as a cucumber mother. *I'd carved out this time to pack for Colorado. So, that didn't happen.*

Show of hands here, who thinks I might need to accompany Mini to college to be sure she gets emails, and wakes up on time, and doesn't bury her roommate accidentally with a truckload of dirty laundry?

We called Ed in Budapest. She'd already texted him the good Creighton news. 



Ed sputtered, he was speechless. He said he was tearing up. She called Tank, who let some expletives slip out while on speaker phone. It was just THAT exciting. 

One of Coach's patients, who is 'in the know', told Coach a few weeks ago that Mini hadn't been disqualified for being too financially comfortable, so we kept thinking MAYBE?  Each time a kid applies, I write a financial statement. This time I was like HEY, HOW HIGH CAN YOU COUNT? WE WILL HAVE 3 KIDS IN COLLEGE TWICE WHILE MINI IS IN COLLEGE. Maybe it's because I was shouting? Kidding, but when Coach shared this with Mini and I, we were standing in the kitchen. We froze and stared at one another. Bug-eyed.

This patient also told Coach that the committee wants to give her the scholarship. She just needs to be the person who she is in her application. I think this mindset helped Mini calm down, because she was a mess. 


Well, I didn't think any additional adrenaline could've been inserted into that day. I texted the moms I sit for:  HERE I THOUGHT GETTING A GOOD PARKING SPOT AT THE SHEDD WAS GOING TO BE THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT TODAY.

Later that night, there was more excitement. Good thing I'm not an Olympian, because I think they would've accused me of doping with adrenaline. This interview isn't a guarantee to the scholarship. Plus Mini is nervous that they'll pick a school for her that isn't where she wants to go. Beggars and choosiness applies, but I do get it. Her interview is tomorrow (Thursday the 24th at 8 am). Good vibes, prayers, and happy thoughts accepted and appreciated. 


Do you think you could parallel park a 12-seater Chevy express former airport shuttle? Asking this rather than asking you to share any crystal ball visions/thoughts about the scholarship. Remaining calm here, and how are you doin'?

February 21, 2022

Colorado visit, so artistic, & remembering

Mrs. B walking Johnny to the door.
I enjoyed my visit with Mrs. B and Johnny in Colorado. The slower pace was just what I needed - I've had some stress 'at the office' lately -more on that later. A bus picks Johnny up during the week and takes him to his program. Mrs. B and I chatted, ate lunch out, browsed cute shops in the downtown area, attended morning mass, and arrived home in time for JB to be dropped at home.  

This photo of Johnny and I hangs on
their fridge. It was taken in my basement
 playing hot potato at my birthday party circa
 '75 or '76. My mom holding Mike in
 the background rocking the polyester.
I got to meet Mrs. B's group from church. What a lovely community and support system for her. I joined them after mass for breakfast one morning, and coffee and donuts the next. I entertained them with stories from the glory days when I lived two doors down from the B family and their five active boys. One of the stories was how I got my nickname, Ernie.

I got choked up describing the day we moved away: 
Mrs. B is a very talented artist.
She carved this in walnut over
 40 years ago. It's beautiful.
It was a week before Christmas. I was almost 7. Mr. B and one of his older boys drove us to the airport. My dad was already working in Chicago. They carried our luggage inside and helped my mom herd the 5 of us inside. Before we boarded the plane, Mr. B told my mom: 

I remember crying in his white station wagon, begging him not to let me move away. 

With 5 boys - Johnny the youngest was a year older than me, I was Mr. B's little girl. He got a kick out of my spunk. He showered me with attention, and laughed at my antics. My mom says that my sisters were quiet and clingy to her, but I was outspoken (wait, what? me?) and talked to everyone. The B family thought I
was the bees-knees. My happiest childhood memories happened in Davenport, Iowa. At the new house in the Chicago suburbs in the middle of the night, I used to wake up crying to go back to Davenport. 

Johnny's accident happened when he was 11 and I was 10. He suffered a traumatic brain injury during a competitive biking race. He was in a coma for 9 months. When we got the news that he'd woken up, I thought that meant he was back to perfect health. Back then, no one really explained stuff, and if they did - it wasn't clear, or I corrected it in my head to make it acceptable and easier to grasp. My parents rushed the 5 of us back to Davenport to see him. 

Mrs. B paints mugs for
 her friends' birthdays.
 They pick the flower and the bird.
 She paints their name on the handle.
 The mugs hang up in the church kitchen
 for their coffee mornings. 
I still remember that visit. I couldn't understand. The boy in the bed didn't look healthy. He couldn't speak. His eyes weren't always tracking. Sweat pooled in my armpits. My hands got weak. I thought I might faint. My sister, Marie, almost did faint and had to be helped out into the hallway. 

My mom started using what we called her 'teacher voice', loudly telling Johnny that we were so happy to see him. Then she nodded at me, like OK, you're up

I didn't know what to say. 

Johnny put one of his legs that was in a big white cast on the bed rail. He slid it over towards where I had been directed to sit. 

I smiled at him and said, "HEY, WHAT'S THAT FOR. IF YOU'RE GONNA KICK SOMEONE, KICK PAT. HE DESERVES IT, NOT ME." Johnny laughed.

It's been over 40 years since the accident. Johnny remembers things  before the accident, but struggles with short term memories. The women from Mrs. B's group wondered if he remembered me. Yep, he remembers. On this trip, I spend a lot of time reminding him of stuff, like how I'd gotten my nickname. "HOW BOUT MY DAD AND HIS BAD HANDWRITING? AND HE THOUGHT IT WAS SO FUNNY WHEN THE WAITRESS AT THE PIZZA PLACE SANG HAPPY B-DAY TO ERNIE." (insert JB dying laughing). When we played pretend and picked a new name for ourselves, he always chose Johnny Bench, who was a famous baseball player. 

I was heading for the
 airport. She'd forgotten
 to have me pick out a plate. She sent
 me to her dining room to pick
 one - she'd painted them all.
I love it. It made it safely
home to my hutch. Do you think
my family would miss me if I went out there
 for the summer and asked her to teach me?
He sometimes forgets that Joe passed away, partly because he wasn't seeing Joe daily. When he isn't at his program, he pours over the newspaper studying the stock prices. One arm is curled up and not really usable. The other is spastic, but usable. He understands what's going on and enjoys joking around. 

Mrs. B asked me about celiac disease. I told her a lot of Irish people get it. Johnny said something like "SWEE" - in his loud, garbled way. 


Johnny cracks up laughing, shaking his head, and waving his good arm in the air with a thumbs up.  

The day they drove me back to the airport, Mrs. B said:  IT'S GONNA BE BORING AGAIN, WITH JUST ME (Mr. B passed away just shy of his 91 birthday in Jan '21). The middle brother moved to Colorado from Tampa in '20 when Mr. B started becoming forgetful. 

She also sews. Their home is full
 of beautiful quilts. 
Heartbreaking to think of what could've been and the challenges they've faced. JB's happy and Mrs. B is amazing and devoted. She's 83 and worries that someone will decide she's too old to care for Johnny. One of her friends asked her recently is she could play bridge on a Saturday. Mrs. B said no - it wouldn't be fair to Johnny. The woman said LIFE'S NOT FAIR. 


Truer words never spoken. 


In order to get to their town in Colorado, I had to stop in Dallas first. Can you say out of the way? Where do you go that requires a stop in an out of the way airport? I wish it was easier to get there. I'd go more often. 

February 16, 2022

travel: who, where, when? & skip school, why not?

I've named this toy squirrel,
Lillie as the 'prize' Suz wins for
guessing the garage door was
 something that wouldn't
open. Do you see the resemblance?
Budapest:  STILL up for discussion. Who, when? It's anyone's guess. I thought this wasn't going to happen.

A few weeks ago, Mini begged me to sit down and peruse the rental options in Florida for spring break. 


Me (head swiveling):  HUH?

Mini:  YIPPEE.


Me:  HUH? 

I booked flights to Florida April 12th - 16th. Mini had no school Wed and Thurs and Reg is scheduled to take the PSAT during school those days. Who cares about that? So, Reg skips the test and Curly skips school. This freed up spring break so that Coach and I could MAYBE go to Budapest. 

It's a Lillie replica,
minus the toothy grin.
See, she's missing
 an ear. This toy was
 inherited. I have no idea
 who ripped her ear off.


Then:  Coach's employee, who had an arranged marriage just before (or during?) the pandemic, will be in India to visit his wife. Coach said that he and the newlywed dude couldn't be away at the same time. 



Me:  OH YEAH. I'LL MAKE A FEW CALLS. (I'm WEARY - Coach does A TON for his company. Patients literally come from far and wide to see him, the company aught to jump when he wants to finally take time off).  

One issue with Coach and I going away: the 3 youngest would be home alone during their spring break. I'm not that worried about leaving them alone. No one would be around in order for them to throw a party. I fear that they'd be bored though. 

I suggested that I go to Budapest with Mini over spring break, and Coach go with Tank in May when he finishes school. Sadly, I never renewed the kids' passports over Christmas break. We weren't going anywhere. It fell off my radar.

I had Mini skip her morning classes the other day to renew her passport, just in case. An expedited passport takes 5-7 weeks, and we'd hope to travel in 6. Why must everything be so complicated? No one answers the phone at the passport office, but you can get an appointment if you're traveling in under 2 weeks. Then what? Am I guaranteed an appointment? Guaranteed a passport? Pay out the nose?


On Sunday, we took the 3 youngest to breakfast (Lad wanted to stay home with Finn). The plan: we take a kid out every month and then each kid gets alone time with us twice a year. Well, the kids begged to all go this time. 


Coach was working out during this insurrection, and I caved. 



During breakfast, Newlywed texted Coach. He'd adjusted his travel plans and he'd be back during spring break. The plot thickens. I still think, Mini and I should go. How does one buy flights when one isn't sure if they will have a passport in time? I looked into flight insurance and not having the correct travel documents isn't covered. 


The day Mini got her passport renewed, I took 5 toddlers/babies to the zoo. I let her sleep late because she'd had an away game and was up crazy late working on homework. She has gym first period, and her 2nd class - also fluff. So, I gave her the filled out application, documents she'd need, and a few blank checks, signed. Told her to call the library and make an appointment, and then call me with  questions.

If there was a way to have a kid renew a passport without getting her hopes up for potential travel, I sure didn't know how to do it. The night before I sent her to get her passport photo taken - I just sort of shrugged, as in DON'T ASK. 

She called me while I was driving to the zoo. She needed to show up to the library with a copy of her license and her expired passport. She didn't know how to use the printer. 


Mini:  HOW?

Mind blown. What? I told her to put her hand on top of the printer and lift the cover. She wasn't able to. Do you not have an opposable thumb? 


She needed both sides of her license copied on the same sheet. I was like WELL, MAKE A COPY, THEN FLIP THE LICENSE AND PUT THAT PAPER IN THE TRAY. IT'S TRIAL AND ERROR. GOOD LUCK. 

Baptism by fire:  printer 101.
College here she comes. 

She managed, but when I came home there was a stack of discarded OOPS pages. Would it have been so hard to recycle the evidence? 


Speaking of travel:  today (Wed) I'm flying to Colorado to visit Joe's brother, JB aka Johnny, my 1st best friend who had the TBI at age 10, and his elderly mother. 

I was looking for a phone number in one of my Christmas cards a few weeks ago and I came across Mrs. B's card. She wrote:  "Joe's coming to visit in Feb." Days after I got her card, Joe died. I decided, HEY, I CAN BE A FEBRUARY VISITOR. Johnny didn't attend Joe's out of state funeral. It would've been too hard for him. 

Mrs. B sent me a note to say seeing my sisters and I at the funeral had made an awful time so much more bearable. She wished we'd had more time. More time? I've got time. I'm looking forward to this visit. I fly home Saturday.

I'm pulling the girls out of school to cover my babysitting gig. Curly will watch 2 kids Thursday. Mini will have the twins solo on Friday. Notice a theme here? I've become a 'skip school' advocate. 

Did you or your offspring ever skip school? With or without parental permission? Or, hit me with your travel tips, passport renewing strategies? Or, do you know anyone who had an arranged marriage? This concept has blown my kids away.  

February 14, 2022

cards stacked, a Mini oops, petition this, and acceptances

I failed to explain that given my family-of-origin's obsession with Notre Dame, our family kinda/mostly hates Notre Dame. Both Coach and I grew up cheering for their sports and believing them to be THE SCHOOL. Having family members who can't see clearly because Notre Dame clouds their vision is irritating. 

*Adding:  we DO know some people that went to ND, like Curly's Irish dancing BFF's parents, who see things perfectly clearly, don't think too much of themselves, etc. and we are crazy about them. 

This is Lad. At Notre Dame
 when my brother
 Mike got married there in 2000.

My sister, Marie, has two daughters (a senior and a freshman) at ND. When her freshman daughter was accepted to Notre Dame, she wasn't sure she wanted to go there. It rocked Marie's world. So, she took daughter, my  parents, and my sister, Ann, to visit ND. She told my folks they weren't to try to sway daughter. Um, what? Their presence spoke volumes: HEY GUESS WHAT WE ALL WANT YOU TO DO? Of course, daughter came around. 

Marie is the same sister who took Middle daughter (Lad's age) to physically visit probably 20 campuses. In the end, she limited Middle to two schools. My mom supported this, JUST TELL MIDDLE SHE CAN ONLY GO HERE OR THERE. I've mentioned Kool-Aid, here it is, overflowing. 

Lad played football in college even though we weren't in favor. By October, he realized that he should be playing water polo. As a transfer student out east, he lost money he'd have gotten as a freshman. Anyway, when he was looking at schools my mom had told me to just tell him he couldn't do football. 

Neither school that Marie offered to Middle were schools she wanted to attend. Marie was incredibly distraught that Middle went away to college and refused to speak to she and her husband for A LONG TIME. The school Middle ended up at? Saint Mary's, across the street from ND. 

The "FIND A HUSBAND" comment by my dad:  he'd never have said that to Marie, because she was brilliant/attended ND. He reserves those kinds of remarks for the not-so-bright kids, which is why he'd never say it to Opal. 

Also, ND applicants who have a parent who went to ND are considered legacy, and have an advantage. Mini - not legacy.

Notre Dame allowed applicants to apply without sharing test scores. Mini did NOT share her scores. We assumed that this gave her even less of a chance. They SAID they didn't care about scores, but wouldn't they only accept people with impressive scores?  Didn't choosing not to submit look like you were hiding something?

In a nutshell, the cards were stacked against Mini. 



Both Creighton and Saint Mary's accepted Mini and both gave her great scholarship money. SMC costs a bit more than Creighton, so tuition would end up about the same at either school. Creighton identified her as a candidate for a full ride called the Scotts Scholarship. She applied to the Scotts as well as some business thing for $5000.

She had to do a case study for the business scholarship and present it via zoom. When she came out of her zoom call, she had us eye-rolling.


She hears about the Scotts mid February. 

I think it'd be fun for Mini to go to the same school as Tank. Tank disagrees. I believe he'd rather have a WHAT HAPPENS AT COLLEGE STAYS AT COLLEGE approach to school, and not have Mini around to keep an eye on him. She's not the 'report back to mom and dad' type, but try convincing him of that. 


Ed loves Indiana University, but Mini isn't sure the size is the right fit for her. Great business school, which is her intended major. December 17th, she got word that she was accepted to IU. It said the business school would let her know in 6 weeks. 

Long story, but she started to panic that she wouldn't get into the business school. She had until midnight the next night to petition. Why would a kid have to petition BEFORE she knew if she was in or not? Petitioning involved ANOTHER essay. Ed was home from college. He said it looked like she met the qualifications for direct admit, but the wording WAS weird. She couldn't access her account. What? My kid was unraveling before my eyes. 

I was ready for bed. Instead I sat in the study updating addresses for my Christmas cards while she prepared a petition to let her in the business school. We stayed up until almost 1 am. She wrote another essay. I edited it until it was the EXACT word count. I may be wordy here, but in a pinch I'm a pro, it turns out, at eliminating excess. 

Mini doesn't like to hug. I know, I know. I'm asking her to work on that. I made her hug me. She was shaking and worked up. 

Me:  OK, you've said this isn't likely going to be the school for you. It will ALL WORK OUT. If you don't get into the business school, so what. You have lots of good options. Breathe. *Mini pointed out that if she got the Evan's this might be her first choice, but that's a big IF.

Friday the 18th, she was still confused. IU portal closed, and without access she couldn't submit a petition. I told her to email and explain, copy her counselor. She called me by 10 am with a happy voice. IU responded. She WAS admitted to the business school, which is why her account wouldn't allow her to petition. They  hadn't let people know yet if they were in or not. Strange. 


That night she had the chills and that's when she got covid, and I HAD JUST HUGGED HER (but I didn't get sick). 

Saturday, Curly's birthday, we went to church at 5:30 pm. Minus the covid kid. I was leaving church and put the volume back up on my phone. Mini's BFF's mom had texted me during church: 


Wait, WHAT? Reg was standing at my elbow. He was like WAIT, WHAT DOES THAT SAY? I held my finger to my mouth:  SHHH. 

For the 1 minute drive home, I pretended I hadn't seen the text. I thought a letter would come in the mail, so this couldn't be right. Could it? We hadn't gotten a letter. I started pulling stuff out for dinner, my mind racing. A masked Mini entered the kitchen in her robe, holding her laptop: 

The grotto at Notre Dame. Mini and I
 posed here for a selfie
when we toured SMC. 



Typical Mini. 

It's very surreal. She's excited, but unsure where she'll go. She hasn't heard from Wake Forest yet. 


Opal and Mini FREAKSIHLY ran into one another at Denny's when out with friends (houses not in the same town). Opal asked if Mini had any college decisions. Mini told her she got into ND. Opal congratulated her but said nothing aside from suggesting that Mini not tell my dad or he'd be all over her. Mini was like - yeah, not worried about that. 

We've got him right where we want him. "HEY, DAD, NOT SURE SHE'LL GO THERE. AWFULLY PRICEY." The plot thickens. 

Thoughts on if Opal got into ND? Ever forget about an interview, and it still went really well? Ever learn of big news that someone assumed you knew, via text? 

February 9, 2022

college applying, with layers

Mini is a good student. Good SAT scores, but she isn't a great test taker. She has an excellent GPA, takes advanced classes, blah, blah. blah. I was fine when she said, YEP, DONE WITH THAT SAT THING. I'M HAPPY WITH THAT SCORE. PLUS SOME SCHOOLS ARE STILL GOING OPTIONAL WITH TEST SCORES.

So, she applied to schools that she could attend if she gets the Evans Scholarship, which is the full ride scholarship for caddies. We felt a few of the boys, mostly Eddie because of his strong academics, might get this based on the feedback from the golf course where they caddy. Never happened. We weren't financially needy enough. I was perfectly happy to submit our grocery bills, but that wasn't requested. So, while we feel we might fit the financial profile, we're not holding our breath. 

ALSO - twice while Mini is in college, we will have a total of 3 kids in college. And, she is a girl caddy. There are far fewer girl caddies and they need to award it to both girls and boys, so from a numbers standpoint . . . well, still not holding our breath. 

Evans schools that she applied to include Indiana University, where Ed goes. It has an excellent business school, but it's crazy big and we think she'd do better at a not so gi-normous place. And, Notre Dame. If (big IF) she was to get the Evans, she'd rank her top Evans schools, and they send her to one. Fingers crossed.

She applied to Creighton, where Tank goes and where Coach went. She applied to the school that I graduated from, Saint Mary's College. It's  a very small all women's college across the street from Notre Dame. She also applied to Wake Forest and a few others, but these are the schools she is most focused on. She is very interested in which school is going to give her the most money. 

She and I brainstormed the different angles she could use to incorporate her greatest attributes in her college essays. Needless to say, we didn't mention her lack of attention to detail while in the kitchen, or her ability to outsmart the system to arrive at school late and not be marked tardy

The Notre Dame essay prompt asked something like:  IF YOU ATTEND ND, HOW WOULD YOU EXPECT ND TO CHANGE YOUR MIND AND YOUR HEART?

We really wanted to start her essay off with:  DEAR HAUGHTY BASTARDS, but we refrained. Mini did write the essay from the angle that she'd anticipate her mind to be informed, grown, etc - duh, isn't that what college is for, educate me? But, she also noted that while her heart might grow, her heart was not in need of change, thank you very much. 

I mentioned layers, here's one. My dad told Mini:



I know. Archaic. So offensive. This implies that she should attend college in the hopes of marrying a man from Notre Dame. This mindset diminishes how capable my kid is and obviously, no girl should attend college, regardless of how bright she is, in the hopes of landing a husband. Last time I checked this is 2022. 

This ticked Mini off. I was fired up. I told my dad from his front stoop during one of my walks in the fall what I thought of this approach. I told him (among other things like she's going for an education, etc.) YOU DON'T KNOW HOW BRIGHT MY KID IS. SHE COULD GET INTO NOTRE DAME.


Background note, so you can fully appreciate this layer:  my dad, his brother, one of my mom's brothers, both of my brothers, and my sister, Marie all went to Notre Dame. Two of Marie's daughters attend Notre Dame currently. Marie is the one who acts as if she is an only child. Hard to describe the dynamic, but she would do anything to align with our parents. Always needs to be in their camp. Drinks the Kool-Aid. Having 2 kids at ND is a feather in her cap that she wears with SUCH pride. 

Meanwhile, Pat's daughter Opal is Mini's age. She's always been billed as very brilliant. Haven't you heard? We don't share test scores or grades with my folks, not how we roll. Mini likes to say that perhaps if she showed up to family parties reading a book, maybe my folks would decide that she, too, is brilliant. 

Years ago, when Lad was in 8th grade my dad took him to a special athletic club dinner hosted by the ND club. This was SUPPOSED to be an exciting evening for Lad to get some much needed individual attention. One on one time. He was the only grandkid invited.

Lad asked my dad that night:   Do you think I can get into Notre Dame?

My dad:  NO, BUT ALL OF PAT'S KIDS WILL. *outrage:  whether this is true or not, read the damn room* 

I remember waiting for Lad to come home, anxiously anticipating his reaction to this big night out. Instead, he shared the above and I felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. 

Mini and I visited Saint Mary's in early November. While she is underwhelmed by the small size, she was actually more impressed than she thought she'd be. Our visit happened around the same time that the president of the college sent out an email with a link to an article in Forbes that highlighted how great it is for women to attend an all women's college. 


He emailed back and admitted that Pat wouldn't allow him to discuss Opal's college search with her. Translation:  growing up Pat was praised for being SO smart, well even I must admit, this move was very smart on his part.


Do you know people who still think it is 1950? Who influenced you/your children in your college/career/job decisions?  Did some people need to told to zip it? 

Next part should be ready to post on Monday. 

February 7, 2022

Ground Hog pasta party & Mini's tardy strategy confession

I posted a lot last week. If it was too much, I understand - if you like to talk about purses, then you might want to go back - that post is under 500 words. 

Please click the link if you missed my Driving with Bird Girl published piece and you'd like to read it. Thanks for the high praise and the time so many of you took to read it, along with my 80 billion posts. Much appreciated.


My stomach bug didn't interfere with pasta party:  The Ground Hog day version. Mini stayed home Thursday morning to help clean up/organize the house. The riddle here is why no one made a move to make the house a little bit presentable during Wednesday's snow day. Best not to overthink it, because it promises to blow one's mind. Or maybe that was just me.

compliments of
I spent the middle of the night Tuesday into Wednesday curled up on the floor of my bathroom. It was cold in there on the ceramic tiled floor. In order not to disturb Coach, I opted to wear/drape myself in clothes that were discarded in the bathroom. I felt a tad like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation when he gets stuck in the attic and puts on vintage clothing. 

I slept most of Wednesday, quite sad to miss a perfectly delightful snow day. I awoke a few times to hear people argue about whose turn it was to shovel. To think of the things I could've accomplished. Ah, well. At least families were already not planning to show up as most are teachers. Not an additional cancelled day. 

At 8 pm Wednesday, I forced myself out of bed to bake cookies for the party the next day. It was then that I heard Coach scold the kids for never emptying the dishwasher. And for leaving their pasta dishes for him to scrape and load. I was in a bit of a fog, but it dawned on me: 

Mini made pasta for lunch on their snow day, even though we still had pasta leftovers in the fridge from the original pasta party. Not to mention I was about to make MORE pasta the next day. What.On.Earth?

Coach tried to convince me not to bake cookies: "buy them at the grocery store." BLASPHOMY. No matter how weak I was, store bought cookies would not be an option.

It all worked out, even though Mini
came home upset because I hadn't finished
clearing the dining room table. I
was like I GOT THIS, BUT

Thursday morning, I said I felt like eating Jell-O. With celiac disease, toast and crackers aren't options, well - I don't stock them so they aren't options when I'm sick. Mini offered to make me Jell-O. A moment later, I noticed her stirring. Wait, did she boil water? Nope, she stirred it in cold water. College is around the corner, in theory. 

Another Mini story, while I'm thinking of it. She shared with us in early January that she couldn't be late for school any more. 

We started at her, as in:  GO ON, DO TELL

What on earth could prompt our always tardy kid to decide to be on time? 

Mini:  So, I have gym first period. I can get to school late, because there's always a line of late kids, waiting to get a pass to go to class. I just wave at the office person and say I'll get my pass at the student center, you know - to alleviate the line. Other kids go to the student center, I just don't bother. I walk past the student center and go straight to gym. No one notices that I haven't gotten my pass. No idea why other kids aren't smart enough to do this. I get to the locker room and everyone is still changing. I enter the gym whenever I'm dressed. It really doesn't matter.

BUT today, (this conversation took place the first day back after break) they wouldn't allow anyone to go straight to the student center. They rerouted us through the library. I was like, HUH? Then in the library someone asked me if I was with a field trip. I was like NO, but they made me line up to get a pass there. I couldn't escape. They blocked the hallway. My usual plan wasn't working. Ugh, I'm going to have to start GETTING UP ON TIME. 

All I can say about her first semester late-kid scheme:  genius with a twist of WHO TELLS THEIR PARENTS THIS? I admit to being proud. Is that wrong?


Music at Ground Hog Pasta Party:  Reg asked Alexa to play Bruno Mars. I could tell some teammates were not fans. Some were digging it though. Then the music changed. I liked the change better. Then it changed AGAIN, like mid song. 


Reg:  I think so.

Girl table rocked.
I texted Tank. He confirmed. We died laughing. Most of the team remember Tank from his Mr. High School reigning days last year, so they appreciated his remote DJ efforts.

Before the kids arrived, I pulled Mini aside and asked her is she thought Curly could join the girls in the dining room. Curly knows the girls from doing camp with them in the summer. Mini allowed it. 

I may not have done right by them training them to clean up, but something is clicking 'cause they can play Alexa tricks remote, be sweet to sisters, and wiggle their way out of tardies. 

Did you do stuff in high school that you didn't tell your folks? Or did you share everything? If you were Tank, what music would you have selected for the team? 

February 3, 2022

when every minute counts in a race to serve pasta to a crowd, it helps not to suck

I promise the college application/acceptance details next week. There are layers. LAYERS. 

There was a 'thing' that happened last week . . . I ended up hosting the boys' team for a pasta party last Thursday AT.THE.LAST.MINUTE. *I'm hosting both the boy and girl teams this Thursday at my house. Another mom, who also has a girl and a boy on varsity has volunteered to host with me.

I got a group email Wednesday at 8:45 pm to the team. The family planning to host the pasta party had a family emergency. They were canceling. Oh. Shoot. They were hoping someone would be able to step in and handle it. I thought to myself, SELF, WHO WOULD BE THAT CRAZY? THAT'S TOMORROW NIGHT. 

Well, have we met? I don't babysit on Thursdays. So, I slept on it and in the morning I still hadn't convinced myself that it was crazy. I asked Reg what he thought. He said it would be nice if I did it, but it was OK if I didn't. Part of me felt like the family that cancelled would feel better if someone else took it over. 

I emailed in the group and said SEND YOUR BOYS TO THE SHENANIGANS AT 6:30 PM, WE WILL DO THE PASTA THING OVER HERE. Another mom who was apparently planning to bring dessert emailed me to say she could still do dessert. That helped. I do know how to cook for a crowd, so why not?

It was all hands on deck. Lad didn't work until noon. He offered to go to the grocery store. I made him a list and I bolted for Costco. I had ordered a new cash card, having never found my missing card. I asked Coach to leave me his. 

I had this set out before I went to Costco.

Coach had a late start that morning, so he cleared  countertops and washed them. I had just cleaned all of the bathrooms the day before. We were shaping up and

it was still morning. I left the dining room in its current 'catch all' condition, because I had enough seating in the kitchen and the boys weren't going to care if they noticed that the dining room table has a couple of shoe boxes waiting to be returned, etc. 

I was talking to Delilah on my phone while in Costco, shopping without the list I'd carefully made at home and promptly lost or dropped. I managed to remember EVERYTHING on the missing list. Who even am I? 


As I approached the checkout, I alerted Delilah that I was nervous. Coach's debit card still had a sticker on it. Did he just never remove the sticker after he activated it? I hadn't noticed the sticker until after he'd left for work. 

My total was $395 - not all for the pasta party, but my people needed a few things to munch on. The beep beep beep happened, alerting me to remove my card. I wiped sweat from my brow. "Oh, thank goodness, Delilah, it worked." Then the checker asked me to try my card again. It didn't work. Uh oh.

I was like, but it beeped. Well, I tried again and it beeped again-  but a message flashed across the screen that said CARD FAILED - or something similar. YIKES. 

A man in line behind me came forward to alert me that my card still had the sticker on it. "It's my husband's card, so no idea why he kept the sticker on it." I smiled at him, pretending that I wasn't about to scream or pass out or both. The checker voided my order, which made me want to cry. I had rivers of sweat running down my sides. She said they could re-ring me at the front of the store once I activated the card. 

I called the 1-800 number on the sticker. THAT CARD NUMBER IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE, or something similar that made me want to puke. I asked the guy at the front if I could write a check. Yes, so long as the name was the same name on my ID, or something. Well, I really don't have a fake ID or have secret accounts under an alias, so not worried about that

I rarely carry my checkbook, but I had just gone to the bank. I hoped it was in my bag in the car. As I abandoned my cart at the front of the store and darted  outside to look for it, I called Coach's work. The receptionist said she'd see if he was with a patient. 


Me (when Coach got on the phone):  DID YOU GIVE ME A DEBIT CARD THAT ISN'T ACTIVATED?


What on earth? See, like I said:  WE SUCK.

It's official, I really do have 5 sons. Fortunately, my checkbook was in my bag. I called Delilah back on the way home and asked her if she was on her way to Costco, which isn't far from her house. Could she bring me $395? I like to pull her leg. 

Before I even took the food out of my car, I started boiling water for pasta. The one part of my day that I didn't want to sacrifice was lunch plans with my friend. It happens so infrequently. 

Could've used more than 5 burners.

I cooked the pasta and the meat and mixed some of the ingredients in before I raced off for lunch. I considered leaving the prepped food on the counter while I was at the restaurant, but I really didn't want to be responsible for the entire team getting food poisoning. I covered the five 9 x 13 Pyrex containers with tin foil and shoved them in the fridge. 

When I sat down to lunch, I told my friend that I really hadn't just had a facial. My pores had just been subjected to extreme steam while cooking a mountain of pasta. I always forget to use the fan in the hood, because remember I didn't have the hood for three years. I eventually flipped it on. 

The boys enjoyed themselves, but they were a quiet group. I asked Reg to play some music. He said I wouldn't like his music. Not sure why? Bad language? So he invited Alexa to play smooth jazz. Well, this was interesting. 

The guys staggered in at different times. I forgot about the music, because another mom showed up who I'd never met and we were chatting. Suddenly I noticed a weird look between the boys who weren't there when Reg jokingly turned on smooth jazz. I announced that this was Reg's doing, NOT mine. I don't have to be the cool mom, but I draw the line. Then I asked for a show of hands of who liked 80s music. Most of the team raised their hands. Alexa switched gears. 

I had a zoom book club to attend, and I hopped on while the boys headed down to the basement to hang out and the other mom left. Mini had an away game. She'd given me the OK to skip her game in order to do the pasta dinner. Coach worked late and saw the 2nd half of her game. 

The girls. Loud and proud. They were
rolling around laughing half the time.
I texted her to invite her team over for pasta after her game. Mini texted me that the entire girls' team was coming. I left book club early to re-heat pasta. No Alexa necessary. These girls were loud and hilarious. Curly has told me that she's bummed that Mini won't be at high school next year when she starts. Curly knows the girls on the team and she hung out in the kitchen and chuckled along with the girls. 

I get to do it all again next week (also known as tonight), but I will have a partner and hopefully a cleaned off dining room table (thanks to my awful stomach bug the dining room table did NOT get cleared - I have my work cut out for me today). I'm calling it Ground Hog Day. 

Anyone else who doesn't carry a debit card, or whose spouse doesn't? Ever try to check out of a store and realize you had no wallet? Have you hosted last minute? This time the girls and guys didn't interact, because they ate in shifts. Next week, they will be fed at the same time. Girls seated in the dining room. I think my partner is coming up with a girl vs boy game. Any suggestions? Aside from mini-hoops in the basement and name that smooth jazz tune.

February 2, 2022

IT WON'T OPEN, part 2, plus Curly up a tree

In my last post, I mentioned that we were at Curly's games BEFORE I took Reg to the bank to not-open an account. While we were at her games, 28 minutes from home, Reg called.


I thought he was asking us to drive him home from practice. We'd already told him that we wouldn't be home. Get a ride, or wait for Mini to be done with her practice. 

Well, he did get a ride. His buddy drove away while Reg proceeded to let himself in with the keypad on the garage door. Only, it didn't work. It hadn't let kids in the last few times they'd tried. I'd left doors unlocked a few times when I knew someone was due home and we wouldn't be home. We do have a warm body home quite often. 

Last week, when Reg came home from practice. The door wouldn't go up, so Reg knocked on the window. Coach was sitting right there, but he was upset that he couldn't hear what Reg was saying. It wasn't his finest moment. I'll leave it at that. It was the coldest night of the year. I was on the other side of the house but I quickly realized that Reg was stuck outside. Mini had trouble opening the door recently, so I deduced what was happening. I raced over and put the garage door up. To me, it was simple. Cold kid outside. Let him in. 

Anyway, I was under the impression that Coach went outside and messed with it/figured it out. 

When Reg was calling us, he wasn't looking for a ride, he was hoping someone was home to let him in. And it was crazy cold out and the keypad was not working again.

Reg:  MINI IS AT BREAKFAST WITH HER FRIENDS (she had a car with a garage door opener).

Getting Mini to answer her phone is like asking the weather to stop being cold. Armed with that knowledge, we moved on. I called my folks because they live around the corner and have a key to our house. I wasn't sure if it opened the front door or the door to the house that is inside the garage. They haven't used it in years. My dad came over with the key and it didn't work on the front door, so Reg went home with my dad. 

*note:  My dad stayed in his car, which was wise because of ice. Reg admitted that he tried the key and it fit in the lock but he couldn't get the door open, this COULD be a case of my kids don't know how to use a key. That is something we will need to fix. 

In the meantime, Mini called Reg, wonders never cease, but he told her he was fine because my folks were coming with a key. I messaged her to say if the key doesn't work you should come and get him. Well, she called me and was not close to home and had just arrived at the restaurant, yadda, yadda, yadda. I was like, FINE, GET HIM FROM NANA'S AFTER YOU EAT. Someone likes times with friends. Brave is the person who decides to interfere with that. 

Tank needed a photo from Nana's house
for a creative writing class he is taking.
 This is what I sent him. He is the shirtless
 guy. It was hot. Opposite of what is
 happening in this post. When I sent it,
Tank responded with AW, SUCH GREAT

Coach and I ended up beating Mini to my folks' house. I had some pasta (explanation to follow) to give them and a book my dad had loaned Reg while he was quarantining in the basement, so we stopped home to grab that stuff. 

*The day my dad dropped off the book, he had some papers stuck in the front cover. One of the papers was a written warning from a police officer. Apparently that morning on his way back from the his doctor appointment and on the way to our house, he had run a stop sign. He certainly didn't mean for us to see his written warning, but there it was. Lad leaked the written warning discovery to Nana when he took Finn for a walk recently. Oops, poor Dad was almost going to need to ask Finn if he had room in his dog house. I'm guessing if he hadn't left it in the book, he would've hidden his warning from Nana.*

I'm confident that Reg ate all the food my folks had in their fridge while he waited for us. 

Curly doesn't have a phone yet, but she will soon when she graduates in May. When we were beating Mini to Nana's house, (because if you're going to go to breakfast with friends - what's the point in rushing?), Curly commented that she would've really been up a creek if that would've happened to her.


The Desmonds are a little older than us. We've known them forever. Freakishly, they lived across the street from our old house too. They moved to this neighborhood and a few years, so DID WE. Proof that you can run, but you can't hide. The Desmonds recently moved into the city to be closer to their young adult kids. We do miss them. 

Back to the point:  we did INDEED leave Curly home when we went to church once. I think we drove in two cars, or someone walked to church while the other drove. It was summer. It was a case of I THOUGHT SHE WAS WITH YOU. I left church when I realized she wasn't in the pew. I was so confused. When we'd sent her outside to walk or drive to church, she'd gone outside . . . but alas -  she climbed a tree and she didn't realize that everyone had left for church until she came down a bit later. I found her at the Desmond's house. 

We reviewed which neighbors she could go to in case this situation ever happens to her. No, Mary Ann's name didn't come up. Shock? 

I've said it before, we could leave the door unlocked because if anyone was to break in here they'd take one look around and declare:  SHIT, SOMEONE'S ALREADY RANSACKED THE PLACE. When I came back from the bank with Reg, Coach was replacing the battery on the keypad. I DID mention that that might be the issue during the week, but as I've told you so recently WE SUCK, so I thought Coach inspected it and found it to be working and Coach thought because the light went on it still worked, and Reg enjoyed some fresh air in the FREEZING cold and some time with his grandparents. Hey, so long as none of our drama interfered with Mini's social time, all is well. 

A man at Curly's game overheard our dilemma and asked us why we didn't have the app to check on the door, open it remotely, etc. I laughed. Um, as Tank used to tell the caddy master when he didn't yet own a phone:  MY PARENTS ARE AMISH. Our garage door was left open ALL night twice in the last week by our children, so I turned to him and asked:  TELL ME WISE ONE, HOW DOES ONE GO ABOUT DOING THIS? Fingers crossed that I get this new fangled thing ordered and installed before we lock anyone else out. 

Believe it or not, another WE SUCK post is in the works. Check back tomorrow. Please tell me how you've messed something up, even if it doesn't involve leaving people out in the cold. 

February 1, 2022

LINK to my published story & a purse debate under 500 words

I had no plans to post today, but then I got the link to my published story . I couldn't wait to share. Translation:  I'm posting 4 times this week. Hopefully that's good news, but also hoping that doesn't mean your fingers get too tired from commenting and you've got nothin' left by Thursday's post. 

Old faithful
Two things:  

1.  the link to my published story, hope you enjoy - no rush. Read at your leisure.

2.  looking for input on my great purse debate:

I'm not really big into purses. If I buy one, I want it to last. Then I wear it until it's an eyesore, because choosing another purse, ugh. I don't like to spend a TON on purses, because aforementioned 'NOT INTO PURSES' thing, but I buy a good brand so it'll last. 

For the past few years, I've carried around an athletic Adidas bag as my 'purse'. It has space for stuff, like a book and snacks. Sufficient pockets. It also survives when I spill a water bottle on it at the airport. 

birthday purse
When I need to look like a grown up, I carry either a black purse or a brown purse. I like them both. They function just fine as needed, and are both fairly new.

My brown purse that lives in my
 closet and agrees to accompany
 me places if I need to
look sophisticated.

A few days before my birthday, Coach asked me what I wanted. Hmm. I didn't really WANT anything . . . other than a girls' weekend with my blog friends, but that was a tall order. I wondered if maybe I should get a purse that could handle more stuff, like my faithful Adidas bag. Something more 'real'.

My black purse that waits in my
 closet until it is called upon.
Coach and Curly bought me a purse (see above 'birthday purse'). I like it, but is it THE ONE?

Another option: new
 big purse,
1/2 price, no less
I worry that I need to love a purse. What if I see one that I like better tomorrow? It's like buying a house, even though it's nothing like buying a house. Get me? I won't buy a purse again in forever, so it needs to be perfect amazing. 

Should I not even start on wallets?
I really like this 'wristlet' - maybe
 I'm meant to carry an
athletic bag and a wristlet?
Then I can grab my wallet
 when I run into a store.
I bought ANOTHER purse to help make up my mind complicate things. It's maybe TOO big. It would come in handy if I was taking the train into the city to meet my publisher. That's not a thing yet. Dare to dream. It was half price and such soft leather. Look at me, oozing about a purse, of all things. 

Then I remind myself, I probably don't need a purse big enough for a book or a manuscript or GF snacks to sustain me, because I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE. Maybe there is nothing wrong with being more of an athletic tote carrying type. 


*I still have tags on the two new purses, so I can return both of them, or one of them. Curly knows how I am about deciding these things. She will be fine if I return the one she and Coach picked out. Am I terrible? Maybe don't answer that.