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.


Jeannie Bruce said...

So I am notorious for loosing my debit card. Lost mine back at the end of July/beginning of August. Decided not to get a new one for the time being so we just share one. It gets interesting trying to remember who has the card, who needs the card and so on. So far it hasn't been too bad. However, yesterday my guy runs to the grocery store for me (he was off) and called at checkout yelling at me that I didn't give him back the card. Turns out, when I handed it to him at 715am he didn't pay any attention to what I was giving him. He didn't have a checkbook with him either so he had to go home, get the card (exactly where I told him he probably left it on the couch) go back and re-shop for everything.

Jenny in WV said...

I once was checking out at Wal-Mart and realized I didn't have my debit card, because I'd left it in the ATM! Fortunately, I did have my check book with me. I always keep it in my purse, but that was probably the only time in my life I've written a check at a store. I rather sheepishly went to the bank the next day to claim my card.

How many pasta dishes did you make?

I enjoyed your piece on Dead Mule the other day!

Kari said...

Not having the right debit/credit card is a worst nightmare. Particularly at Costco.

By the way, I really enjoyed your published piece that you shared. It was really good. I was going to come back and comment, but kept getting sidetracked.

Kara said...

Outburst is a good game for a large group.

You are a brave lady to host two teams twice in a month!

All three of my kids are in the same school this year. It's been nice to have the oldest and the youngest on the same sports team. Even though the oldest missed a few games due to academic probation brought on by senioritis (since resolved, and grades back up to where they need to be).

I also really enjoyed the published piece. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but when you described your sister stimming with her arms, my thought was that she's on the spectrum, but has probably gone undiagnosed.

Pat Birnie said...

Sorry to hear about your stomach bug - glad it only lasted a day(? I think). Brave if you to take on the pasta dinner at the last minute - but when you’re used to cooking for a crowd what’s an extra 10 or so? I’d have freaked out being in Costco with a huge order and not debit card. Lol in the 5 boys comment. I’ve lost my card a few times, but no longer go to Costco so can always use a credit card. Ican barely recall the last time I wrote a cheque?!? I enjoyed your published piece- well done.

Amy said...

My husband regularly loses his wallet, money, phone, every damn thing really. I'm always getting calls (not necessarily from his phone, obviously. lol!) to ask me to come bring him whatever he's forgotten.

I'm seriously impressed with all of that pasta - you are amazing!

Suzanne said...

Ah yes, the pasta steam facial. A truly luxurious experience!

The debit card thing is TOTALLY something I would do. My husband? Never.

Cheryl said...

I'm pretty anal about my credit/debit card(s), especially since my younger sister convinced me to finally lose my checkbook a few years ago and order a debit card. After using my debit card, I come home and record what I spent in my check book register (and balance it!)...but than again, I am not responsible for FIVE sons (very funny btw)and 2 daughters, lol! Oh yeah, and now my sister is trying to take my flip phone away from me and upgrade to one of those big ones! lol.

WTF? You fed those kids jarred pasta sauce, pre-shredded cheese and boxed pasta? Whoa! Supermom would have grown her own tomatoes in her garden out back, ground them up (in one of those grinder things that separates the seeds/skin from the juice) and made her own sauce, made her own cheese from milk that she got from her own cow living in the garage AND shredded it up and finally, put her attachment on her Kitchen Aid and made homemade pasta from her stash of flour she ground up herself! lolololol!

Just kidding! You did great! I don't know anybody who would take on feeding all those kids with less than 24 hours notice, and was able to squeeze in a lunch date with a friend! Kudos to you and bonus points for making the other mom (who had to bow out) feel better! You rock!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Around here we keep our credit cards to ourselves. That was a panicky moment for sure; I would have had a terrible time myself after all the shopping. I never, ever have my checkbook so that would have sucked too.

You made a boatload of food and I'm sure it was all amazing.

It's been a while since I've hosted anything, but I used to do last-minute quite a bit; usually, thanks to my husband and it would involve his softball girls.

Sorry about your stomach bug; I hope it passed and you were able to enjoy all the kiddos.

Smooth jazz---no thanks! :)

Ernie said...

Jeannine - That would be very confusing to share a debit card. I have no idea how Coach gets along without one. I sure know he rarely has cash on him. I guess he just assumes credit cards will get him through. I vote that you order your new debit card pronto. Nothing worse than being at the grocery store without funds.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Yikes, you left it IN the ATM? I guess it isn't much use to anyone without the code. I used to always carry a check book and I used to write checks. Not so much anymore. Life is so easy now with digital everything, until we don't have the piece that we need to unlock our digital banking.

I made 5 and a half 9 x 13 trays of baked mosticoli. (I can cook it, but don't ask me to spell it). Another mom brought salad and bread. I baked cookies too.

Thanks very much for reading my story on Dead Mule. I feel like I can finally consider myself a writer.

Ernie said...

Kari - I have had a kid use my credit card and then I go to the grocery store and I don't have it. I then use my debit card, but I want the miles, dang it.

Thanks very much. I know nothing of this thing you refer to call sidetracked. ;)

Ernie said...

Kara - Well, both teams went down to the basement after dinner and they all sounded very amused, so we didn't end up doing a game. Before dinner, for like 5 minutes, it was all very grade school like - boys in one spot, girls in the other. I was slow moving today because that nasty stomach bug set me back pretty good, but I did get everything done. For a bit I worried we would have to cancel. That would've been the pits.

Glad daughter got her academic act together so the girls could play on the same team. That's very fun. Curly was allowed to sit with Mini's team in the dining room and was even requested to hang out with them in the basement. I know that meant a lot to Curly. It is a bummer that they won't be at high school together. I'm going to refuse to think about it just yet - but sending Mini to college is going to be rough for Curly and I.

Oddly enough, I have a boy right now in my daycare that does stimming stuff. He is in need of an evaluation and the mom doesn't want to hear it. He is at the very least struggling with a sensory disorder. My sister was not on the spectrum. She flapped around when she was happy/excited about something- more like full arm swaying than stimming, or in this case when she was upset - it was more of a show of emotion than anything else.

Ernie said...

Pat - This stomach bug had me up all night Tuesday. Asleep all day Wednesday. And slow moving today, Thursday. It was nuts. Tough to come back from. I was brave to take it on, but I decided a bunch of teens aren't going to care if the house isn't dusted. They just wanna be fed. I focused on feeding them and the house came together pretty decently too. We had round 2 tonight and it was another success. Lots of leftovers. I get a lot of mileage out of '5th son'. Been saying it for years, and it still holds up. ;)

Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate that you read it. I know I threw a lot at you all this week.

Ernie said...

Amy - Mini and your husband are cut from the same cloth. Mini texted me today from school on a borrowed phone that she probably left her phone at school. Then a bit later texted from her phone to say LOL, FOUND IT. IT WAS IN MY POCKET.

It is a lot of pasta, but it really doesn't take all that long to cook it up.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - It helps to click on the fan in the hood, but not having a hood for 3 years I still forget it's there. When I cooked the pasta today, I remembered to put on the fan from the get go. I also dress in layers, so I can strip down as the kitchen heats up.

Ernie said...

Cheryl - I am sitting here staring into space, I was unaware that people, besides my father, still balance their checkbooks - and you go this after you use your debit card? You're the daughter my dad really wanted.

You had me feeling guilty for a millisecond - SHOULD I NOT HAVE OUTED MYSELF AS A PERSON WHO USES CANNED SAUCE? Well played. I am not a gardener, so nope - anyone who wants to eat at my table is going to get store bought tomatoes.

The lunch date was the only thing that almost kept me from taking a pass. I even thought of asking my friend to grab us lunch and bring it to my sweat shop of a kitchen, but I really wanted to get out. I'm glad it all worked out and I was thrilled that the girls were able to come enjoy the feast after their game too. They are a tight knit bunch, the girls. Tomorrow night is senior night and they are already talking about how much they will cry.

Ernie said...

Suz - Yes, it was a panicky moment. Coach and I were in a bit of a spat that day, so the inactive card was enough to make me blow a gasket. Thank goodness I had my checkbook, which I rarely carry with me. I would've had to drive home to get it and I wouldn't have been able to keep my lunch date.

If I have time to run to the grocery store, I don't mind last minute. Sometimes the less things are planned, the more fun they are.

We had a whole other element to our music with the pasta party tonight. I will share it next week. It was a hoot.

Colleen said...

I love the difference between hosting the boys and the girls - so true! You're a good mom and certainly do not suck since you LAST MINUTE OFFERED TO HOST TWO TEAMS FOR DINNER! Definition of not sucking right there.

Ernie said...

Colleen - It is true. Part of my issue with both at the same time vs the girls showing up for a different time after their game, is that I needed the dining room table to be cleared so I could seat everyone at the same time. I'm chuckling at your definition of not sucking. If you say so. ;)

Bibliomama said...

It was really nice of you to volunteer to fill in, and I'm sure the person with the emergency felt much better! And forgetting your list and still getting everything is a MAJOR accomplishment. Honestly, every time I stick a card of any description in one of those terminals I'm afraid it won't work.

Ernie said...

Ali - I felt like if anyone could fit the crowd and had the day off, then it was a good enough reason to just go for it. I do like to cook a ton of food and then take time off. Not sure my fam likes that, but they aren't offering to fill in for me either.

I guess I am too trusting that cards will work, but you raise a good point. Life could be one electronic malfunction away from going off the rails.

From a funds standpoint, funny thing is I KNEW we had Reg's money in that account mingled with ours and the checker was trying to whisper to me, so as not to embarrass me, that the card didn't work. I was like THAT'S NOT THE ISSUE.