May 31, 2022

Actual short post: paper towels do not a fancy kitchen make, miming, clothing resale, and starring - not in that order

As busy as I've been, I managed to have a family member garage sale yesterday. It was invitation only. Mandatory attendance. I laid out all the young men's clothes that have littered my house this school year. Emphasis on LITTERED. Boxes half full of clothes in the study, bins in the bedroom. Clothes on empty beds, dropped in hallways. Who does it belong to? You're guess is as good as mine. Did the college boys leave these items at home? Did they expect to wear them again, or were they cast-offs? Did they hand them down to Reg and forget to tell him, or did they tell him and he wasn't paying attention? It was time to CLAIM their stuff, or risk not eating dinner. I meant business. 

All items remaining will be donated. 

Tank tried to shop and leave the room, which was against the rules.

Me:  Excuse me sir, I need to write your name in these items that you've selected to cut down on confusion. You can't check out until I've marked them with my Sharpie. 

He thought I was joking, I wasn't. 

Attention offspring, I'm taking back my house, one pile of crap at a time. 

I've recently discovered how to star emails. Wow. This little click makes finding emails SO.MUCH.EASIER. The question is:  am I now starring too many emails? Will the favorites soon be so crowded that I'll be as confused as ever? I'll share updates as the situation warrants. I know you're on the edge of your seat with this revelation, and you're checking your calendar to see what year it is and scratching your head in wonder at how far behind I am. 

CLOSE THE DOOR, sorry for yelling . . . untrue, I was really miming. I so wish I had a video of Wilhelm from last summer. I was sitting on the deck, sunning myself. Mini was technically babysitting. I told her to send him out on the deck to play. Fresh air, etc. We were trying to get him to be more independent. He came out on the deck and didn't quite close the screen door. 


 To him, it looked like it was closed. I motioned and said:  "Push it more."

He turned towards me (with his back to the door) and when I held my two hands up like I was going to do WAX ON, WAX OFF - but one hand above the other, facing the same direction. I pretended to close the door as if it was hanging in the air,. Wilhelm faced me and replicated my actions EXACTLY  - holding his two hands up and closing the 'air' door. I don't think my describing it does it justice. It was SO funny. Excited for Wilhelm. His future as a mime is BRIGHT. 

I aborted the mission and got up and closed the door myself. Obviously. 

Our kitchen addition/remodel was done in 2017. Well that's an inaccurate sentence, because technically it was STARTED in 2016, and if we bypass the two fired contractors who ripped us off in varying degrees over the YEARS (yes, I said years - not a typo, probably obvious by the all-caps), I'm still confused about how to pinpoint the year we did our kitchen. It was completed in fall of 2020 after the installation of the long-awaited hood, so there you have it. 

Anyway - Coach doesn't like how the water sort of pools under the faucet handle. If your wet hand reaches back to turn off the faucet, then water drips or gathers back there. He's begun sticking a paper towel along the backsplash there. Because? Because that looks awesome? Because a wet paper towel makes the area magically dry? There are no words for how this makes me feel, so I will just share a photo and assume that you grasp my emotional need to combust at the sight of the soggy paper towel. 

We have a beautiful kitchen. This paper towel is distracting from that. 

STOP IT. See, words don't do my feelings justice. 

What trick do you use to rid your home of discarded items? How do you handle the water that may gather under the handle of your kitchen faucet? How do you handle the spouse who rigs stuff that makes a situation look worse than it is? Do tell. 

May 25, 2022

short-ish post: MAY is kicking my butt

The month of May is kicking my butt, so thank you in advance for your patience.  

I apologize for being behind on my blog reading, and responding to your comments. I'm here, just a little frazzled.

In May:  Reg and Curly shadowed a Catholic high school. The stress of this decision is heavy, and the information that has cropped up and lead to the shadow has been fairly unsettling. Layers. More later.

Reg needed an EEG last week, because he has what he calls deja vous moments. There were some mild variations in his EEG, so he and I went back to the doctor yesterday. Maybe mini seizures, like misfiring moments which cause him to experience these deja vous issues and nauseousness. If so, this can be addressed with medication. 

Next up:  an MRI of his brain and a 48 hour extended EEG. Nothing to be overly concerned about - not life threatening. Hoping for answers. 

All this and grad dress shopping for two girls. Because our first three grads were boys, I FORGOT Mini needed a grad dress. In the past, I've just handed each boy 'the suit'. I didn't exactly 'forget' about the dress thing, I've just been distracted (see above). 

Other activities:  The day after Mother's Day I drove to Omaha to pick up Tank. The next weekend I watched Reg and Curly play 7 travel games, because they were both local. Last weekend I traveled solo with Curly to Davenport for her travel basketball. In addition to my usual babysitting, I've lost track of how many hours (like countless) I've spent on the ever-so-time-consuming video project for Mini's graduation. 


Before the June 11th graduation party, I need to either move to a different house or figure out how to organize this place. *travel ball, video project, and college stuff moving in translates to BIG MESS - in case you weren't picking up on what I was laying down.*  I also need to prepare piles of food for said party, and finalize where two kids will attend high school before high school summer league starts June 1st. 

I baked cookies for the party yesterday and froze them. One thing checked off the list. Also checked Mini's grad photo off my list, to coin my own blog title here:  no small feat. More on that adventure later. 

Because life is never dull and often hilarious, I found an odd thing in a sandwich baggie in the freezer. Any guesses? (see photo)

I've managed to whittle Mini's video down from 4 hours and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 21 minutes. More whittling to do.

This is the red exotic frog
that escaped Lad's room,
 then died in our kitchen after hopping out
 from under the fridge with dusty feet, almost
 giving me heart failure. It was somehow not
 as appalling to find him in my fridge frozen
 solid in a sandwich baggie.
Don't ask. I have no answers.
Mini usually helps me edit the grad movies from the too long stage to their final phase. While she knows I'm creating it, she's supposed to be surprised by the content. I've enlisted the other kids' help whenever possible. They have strong opinions about what can be deleted. I need them to boss me around here, because to me everything is cute. I'm the mom, that's my excuse. 

Oh, Monday night I read chapter 36 of my memoir to my writing group and they gave it high marks. The chapter I read the time before had issues, so this was huge. I really do value their feedback even when it is PLEASE FIX THIS, but high praise? Ahh. I needed that. 

I squeezed in a haircut Monday afternoon, which I really needed. 

Did anyone really think the only thing I had going on was appliance breakdowns? Weirdest thing you've found in your freezer? Or, how is your May going? 

May 23, 2022

more Vienna, "Oh, no lunch for me, thanks," NOT . . . & loads of photos

Ceiling of the State Hall
of the National Library .

My traveling companions knew better than to argue with my need to eat high end, and the rest of the trip was mostly top notch food . . . for dinner. 

Lunch? Well, we were on our way to the Hapsburgs' summer mansion/estate thing after our walking tour on Saturday and we stopped in a cute area to walk around and eat. 

We looked at dozens of menus, but were hoping to just get something to eat - not have a sit down meal. We walked into a place with pulled pork posted on the specials list in the window. 

Coach taking a photo of me
taking a photo of him, well
really the museum.

My men-folk followed me.

The waiter when I tried to order the pulled pork:  Um, that was yesterday's lunch specials. 

I fell to the floor, and pounded my fists on the ground like a good ole fashioned tantrum. OK, not really. But I wanted to. 

I released the men from my grip, and watched as they skittered across the street to order a feast to be eaten in the sunshine. In front of me. 

Oops, I had to wipe the happiness
off of their faces. Kidding.
Look beyond their amazing food. See the busy street,
 tons of shops and restaurants. It was a great
little area. Too bad we couldn't all enjoy it. 
It was some kind of beef concoction, open faced, melted cheese. The works. They were in heaven. I was in pout-ville with a level of hangri-ness that is hard to convey. I'd already eaten all the snacks in my bag.  

Ready made sandwich places had no 'just meat or a slice of cheese' without the bread partnership. It was a while before I could speak. Most of the Hapsburg tour I sucked on mints to try to kid myself into thinking I wasn't famished. 

Anyway, the estate was mind blowing. Enormous - and just for the summer. I could only imagine the havoc my offspring would have leveled on a place of that size.  Dinner that night, another fab deal. The waiter catered to my every whim. 
All was right in the world
when I am fed proper.

After dinner Friday night, we went to a bar. Then Ed texted a guy who is a friend of a friend who is studying in Vienna. They decided to meet up at a bar. Coach and I went to bed. 

Hapsburg's summer estate
The next morning, Ed told us of his adventure. The kid he was gonna meet realized at the last minute that he'd forgotten to hand in a paper and had to cancel. Ed said he was already at the bar, so he stayed for a drink. A guy started talking to him, and when he left, the bar tender started talking to him. He said it ended up being a great night. 

A bride and groom were
posing of the front steps.

I tried to look approachable at bars when it was just Coach and I after Ed left, but middle aged people like us apparently don't look like all that interesting. Ed ends up talking to people in different cities in bars or wherever, all.the.time.

Mama monkey painting.
Ed left Sunday morning to catch a train back to Budapest. Coach and I explored the city a bit before our train to Prague that afternoon. We went into the visitor center, which had a very cool display and timeline. Then we went to the State Room at the Austrian National Library. 

It was beautiful, tiny, and filled with art. I took photos to show our resident artist, Mini. Some of the stories were interesting. Like a honeymoon couple brought an artist along to draw the native wildlife. Note:  I don't remember where they went, or who they were, but it was a very long time ago and very interesting. 

I think I ordered
 what normal people
would count as
two entries. Oh well.

Guess who these butterflies
made me think of?
I'm just a sponge, absorbing all the details.                                                                             Coach and I finished up at the museum/wandering around and we stopped in a cafĂ© for lunch. The plan was to fill up on food, so that I wasn't starving on the train. This was our first foray without Ed as our guide. I ate a huge breakfast meal and ordered a fruit cup. I was stuffed. 
Can you believe this is a painting
 and not a photograph?
We were trying to decide what time to leave for the train and we became confused. I'd kept my wristwatch on Chicago time, so I knew what time it was for my offspring. My phone never updated, because it wasn't on WIFI. We thought the time was noon. Curly's phone said noon.                                                                                                                                                The wall clock said eleven. Coach was trying to figure out if maybe the time had changed from Budapest to Vienna and we hadn't noticed. Were we really that reliant on Ed? 

Oh, look. Another church.
Finally we asked the waiter what the local time was. It was noon. We pointed to the clock on the wall, and he got a chair and changed it. I was a little frightened for us for the rest of our trip. 

After that huge meal, I waddled along as we headed back to Pigeon Palace to grab our luggage and head to the train.

I'm trying to cope with how much I want
to fight the formatting on this here blog
 right about now, so I'm making this
 photo really large. I win, Format.


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. 



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. 


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.



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. 



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?



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. 


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. 


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.

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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


* 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.