June 29, 2022

I swore off grocery shopping, and other lies I've told myself

SUMMER MASTER PLAN:   It's almost July, and I still haven't shared my foolproof plan. Brace yourself. It's earth shattering.

I announced during PART 1 of Mother's Day* that I  was going to take the summer off. I'd be happy to participate in my usual duties to a point, namely driving people around if needed. Most of my time, I decided, would be spent writing. 

*PART 1 because two college boys weren't home yet. I demand a do-over. 100% availability hasn't happened yet. Updates as they become available. 

Me:  Kids, you're capable of doing laundry (I don't mind doing the laundry, I just want people to sort it and PUT IT AWAY), making dinner, going to the grocery store, and cleaning the house. While I have the summer off, I wanna write for 3 hours a day. Uninterrupted. Occasionally I'll also read and nap poolside at the local pool. (super grateful that raccoon spa is not necessary again this year). Plan to pitch in. God help the child that shrinks away from doing anything around here and has the nerve to say:  I WORKED TODAY. Your father and I never stop working. I know you  have jobs, but you have time to make dinner, get groceries, etc. 


Since I never bothered to share my plan with you, I have updates at the ready. Feel free to take 10 seconds to ponder how you think this has been going so far. Hold that thought . . .  

UPDATE:  The summer started off with me focusing all available energy on Mini's graduation video. It was a labor of love, but it turned out sweet, entertaining, and downright hilarious at parts. If it wasn't 47 minutes long/ if I knew how to share it, I'd post it somewhere for you to enjoy, or I'd mail copies to interested parties. 

The video was complete a full week before the party. A new record. I switched gears and paced myself over the next week to make the food and clean our pit sty house. 

After the party:  time to write. 

Well, there is still time in the summer left to TRY to peel myself away from the duties/children that call to me, etc., but who am I kidding? Unless I move to an island or come and stay with one of you in a hidden guest room, (any takers? Remember I eat GF and I like cranberry Mike's Hard Lemonade) 

my master plan is . . . 


You all knew this was a pipe dream, right?

One night, I was tired, but I needed to get some writing done. It was either blog-related or memoir. I attend a writing group and occasionally it's my turn to read. I prepare my chapter to submit to the group in advance of our meeting. 

The next morning, Coach said to me:  I hate that you go to bed so late. (ulterior motives, me thinks, wink, wink) I wish you could get your stuff done earlier in the day, so you can go to bed earlier. 

I stared at him. Blinking, slowly while I chose my words carefully.  Then I shared what my day looked like leading up to the later-than-preferred bedtime: 

I use my ventriloquist
 skills to say regularly: 
Oh, I rescheduled Reg's EEG to an earlier slot since we aren't going to Yellowstone. I called American to request the miles back that we just bought for that flight. I took two kids to the dermatologist. Curly needed new bathing suit bottoms, so I shopped for those online. I drove a kid to L.A. Fitness, then picked him up. I emailed so and so. I cleaned up dog vomit. AND I DON'T HAVE A DOG. I was out of salads for my
lunch, so I made three salads. I did three loads of laundry. Someone ate the last hard boiled egg, so I boiled a dozen more . . . so I could put them in my salad. I drove (insert JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE YOU CAN IMAGINE), and then drove home again. I replied to a WHAT'S-FOR-DINNER text from Tank, because that was necessary. I shuffled stuff around in the fridge for awhile, because I was bored. Clearly. I answered a few texts from caddies about how soon I could get them, and Ed texted to request a car so he could workout after his zoom internship. Then I wrote.

Trust me, Coach really wants me to have time to write and do the things I want to do and he wants me to be rested because sleep is my favorite, and I feel icky when it's in short supply. Try as we might, the kids are not catching on to the JUST-DO-IT-(YOURSELF) concept. Maybe I need to wear more Nike clothing.

I make 1 salad to eat and 2 to
store in the fridge. Basically
I grumble every 3rd day.
Then Mini wrecked a car. We bought a car (more on that soon). Then I spent a lot of time packing and grocery/clothes shopping for our trip to the resort in Wisconsin with my side to celebrate Mom's 80th. I survived. Details soon. Highlight:  comments made by my nieces about their moms' issues filled me with just the right amount of I-KNOW,-RIGHT? Even though I was well behaved enough not to say "I know, right?" 

I get a little overwhelmed when I feel behind in the blog. What can I say? I wanna  keep all of you in the loop and STUFF.KEEPS.HAPPENING. Sometimes I think it'd be easier to do a giant phone call. That'd probably work, right?

Go ahead, hit me with your told-ya-so thoughts that you would've uttered had I given you enough time to prepare your thoughts on my master plan. Or invite me to your spare room. Be careful, I might show up. First, I have to drive to Cartersville, GA next week with Reg for travel b-ball. We were supposed to fly, but I think I'm gonna cancel our flights. 10 hours is far for me to drive and not get sleepy, so call me. We'll get caught up. Or hit me with your carve-out-writing-time ideas. Not early mornings, I workout then. 

Happy 4th of July - hoping you'll check out my posts next week Tuesday/Thursday because of the holiday. Really hoping that you leave a comment. Don't be shy. 

June 27, 2022

doing the car shuffle, and other car drama

Our car situation is such that if you aren't up for the challenge of shuffling three cars around between six drivers it might drive you bat shit crazy. *Note:  Lad drives his own leased car and Curly is the only kid now who doesn't drive, Reg just got his license two weeks ago even though he turned 16 in January. 

I do like a challenge, but (insert image of me pulling my hair out) this summer has been a LOT. Back in the day, all the kids who were caddies would get dropped off at the same place, same early morning time. They'd hope for a loop (golfer). Then they started getting requested and would need to be there at various times. Now, they go in different directions. The events of last week almost pushed me over the edge.

All three of our cars needed work done. Brakes for gray (kids' car), tire patch for red minivan, and the 12 seater, great white (GW) Chevy van needed a ton of work. Initially we planned to replace GW. We couldn't find a reasonably priced replacement. Even with Lad working at the dealership, we had no inside trader tips. We bit the bullet and did what one does in '22 - fix it. We hope that after spending the $4,500 on this '04 gem that has like 150k miles on it, it'll hold up long enough so that we still feel good about that choice. 

A typical 'night-before' conversation goes like this:  "What are you doing Tank? (he works three different jobs depending on weather, etc.). If you work commercial landscaping gig, then what if dad drops you off and when you are done, you walk back to his work (less than 6 blocks) and take his car? Then I have a car to drive Reg and Curly back and forth to basketball camp, and I can drive Ed to the train - or are you doing zoom in the basement again? Then Mini can drive the caddies in the gray car. We need the caddies to be home by 4:00 so we have two cars to get the basketball players to their games. Wait, two babysitting kids will be here for a few hours in the morning, this is the LAST time they need help this summer - so who will be home with them when I drive to basketball camp? Then when I go to book club at 7:30 pm, someone has to remember to pick up Daddy from work at 8:20 pm."

Ya follow?

I asked my dad if I could borrow his Buick Rendezvous for a bit, because two cars was not gonna cut it for us while one car was in the shop. He's 82 and he doesn't drive very often. I promised him that only Coach or I would drive it. As complicated as this made things, imagine the above night-before plotting but with the 'Coach must drive dad's car' restriction, I figured that was the only way we could borrow from him. 

Lad's dealership wouldn't fix GW, but they'd send it off to a place that they use for such jobs. 

On Wednesday two weeks ago, I drove GW to the dealership and Mini followed me in the red minivan. When we got to the dealership, I got in to drive the red minivan home with Mini as my passenger.

I took this photo while driving the white
 (which still has a few car seats in there)
and that's Mini in the red behind me.
Get off my butt. 




Mini went to hang out at a friend's pool later that day. In order for her to get there, I drove in dad's car with the two girls. Mini hopped out and took the minivan from Coach's work, because she couldn't drive dad's car. Curly and I drove to our pool. 

The car place, we found out AFTER we dropped the van off, couldn't fit GW in until Friday. Groan. Coach comes home early on Wednesdays, so when I went to pick him up because Mini had the minivan, I told him that we should just take the gray car over and swap it with GW. We needed a car to get fixed while we had dad's car borrowed. 

Mini's lower leg (even though
 it looks like a shoulder)
 - while she had it bent on
 a stool. This was about a week later
when it was almost healed. 
He and Reg drove off in the gray, to do the swap. I was at home when Mini called,  sobbing. She'd been in a car accident. She rear-ended someone. No one was hurt. The air bags went off and the red minivan . . . well, RIP. That car was not going to pass the emissions test come July, so it was going to need to be replaced anyway. Still, so scary. 

Did I just say that she followed too close? How great that I stuck to my guns, refusing to let anyone else drive dad's car? Phew. Now we were down to two cars, and one of them was dad's. Gray in shop for brakes, white needing to go in for an overhaul. 

Time to buy a car. 

June 22, 2022

How the Shenanigans avoided an apparent, imminent bear attack

You might've heard that Yellowstone experienced flooding recently. I wasn't worried. Our reservations aren't until the end of July. I had three weeks with multiple (like 3) cabins reserved. I needed to whittle that down before June 15th, or we'd be charged a partial fee for not canceling within 30 days. 

As an aside:  I reserved these multiple rooms June '21 when we thought the adoption of the two boys would be finalized by now and we needed extra room. Sigh. Also, going back to the pool this year, where I hung out with them every available moment last summer because they loved the pool, has felt a bit odd/sad/different. Wherever they are, are they missing our pool? Everything is fine, but there are times, like when I saw a boy in the grocery store that looked EXACTLY like Harry, that have made me literally freeze. 

Anywho, Coach and I sat down Sunday and played our favorite game of who's on first, or in this case - who is staying back to watch Reg play b-ball and then flying out to Yellowstone, and when do we come home. Coach was like CAN WE STAY IN THE PARK FOR ONLY THREE DAYS? Um, no - not going through the challenge of getting there to bail in the blink of an eye.  

Unrelated, but I attended a scholarship dinner with Ed on Thursday. He let them know I required GF and they fed me with a delicious lasagna. Ed was beside himself that he was served (regular) pasta, since I'd made them eat it for so many days after the grad party. Anyway, I enjoyed this rare treat. I oozed gratitude and they sent me home with ALL of the GF leftovers.

There isn't a convenient place to fly into Yellowstone, so we decided that I'd drive to Sioux Falls on Sunday the 24th with Lad, Tank, Mini, and Curly. After driving 8 hours, we'd pick up Coach and Reg at the airport. 

We discussed an end date. I looked at flights home for Coach, who didn't want to take a week off of work. Flying him home ended up not being feasible. 

Freakishly we were out of frequent flyer miles. I bought 25,000 American Airlines miles to the tune of $800 and redeemed them for the Sioux Falls leg of the trip. I wanted to use miles in case ANYTHING happened and we needed to cancel. I've never bought miles. I tend to accumulate them easily by using my credit card for every-dang-thing. Don't worry (if you're like my dad the previous sentence would make you sweat), we pay the balance every month. Not gonna lie, I think traveling for free because our large weekly grocery haul is so costly and adds up to miles is a decent trade off. 

It felt like a weight was lifted once the details of the trip were nailed down. I called Yellowstone to update our reservation. Because of the flooding and people calling to see what the story was, it was really hard to get someone on the phone. I left a message on a different line just in case no one ever answered at the reservation line. Eventually I got through and the woman was very helpful.

The next day someone at Yellowstone called me back, saying they'd gotten my message.





I stood in my kitchen about to walk out the door to the pool. My chin was on the floor. My kids were staring at me, because I think I gasped and sputtered a bit. My eyes may have bugged out of my head. She came back to the line and confirmed that that part of the park will not reopen this season. 

Enjoy a one minute video of our 2010 Yellowstone trip. This year I think I would've captured more teenagers arguing about leg space and unbearable smells. So, we'll just focus on the sweet memories of days gone by. 

The last two years when the pandemic cancelled our reservation, Yellowstone sent me a special code so I could reserve before the general public who weren't having a Holy Grail Mission Experience. At this point, the reservations for next summer have already opened and Roosevelt, which is where we've been trying to stay for 5 consecutive years, is booked. There'll be no secret code this year, but I'm sensing a secret message:  STAY AWAY. I think we might just have to wave the white flag here. Maybe bring the grandkids one day. 

If you haven't followed the saga, or if you have and you no longer care remember the madness chain of events, I'm creating a timeline to share soon. 

On the bright side, I am assuming the universe is talking to us alerting us that a bear attack was imminent. So, look at us . . . winning. Not being mauled by bears. 

We've been to Glacier, Estes Park, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon. Other suggestions? Not attempting anything this summer. We just went to Europe and Florida and we just bought a car. I owe you details about Prague, and oh yeah - the story behind the car purchase. I still need to share my plan for the summer, and how that's going. Any guesses? Anyone want to invite my messy, hungry family for a visit? Turns out we have some time the end of July. 

June 20, 2022

the time when my dad saved me by introducing me to Carla

Seeing as I usually post on Mondays and Wednesdays, I'm behind in my Father's Day thoughts. I read Ally Bean's post last week and after I commented I thought, THIS IS A STORY I'D LIKE TO SHARE ON MY BLOG. 

*Ally - I apologize for the repeat, although the version I left in your comments is the bare bones. 

The tale starts out with bad hair, as most stories from way-back do. Mom, as you may recall, was obsessed with short hair for her girls. A professional at an actual salon styled me in a Dorothy Hamill in '75 or '76. After that, Mom cut my hair herself. She was as untrained as I am at treating Coach's physical therapy patients. If push came to shove, I'd do my best at faking what exercises his patients needed. Mom did her best at faking our haircuts, too. 

Her method didn't differ much from how she butchered cut my brothers' hair, but they were boys and their hair was as forgiving as the world tends to be to little boy hair. She used a straight edge razor blade to 'feather' our hair. As the victim customer, it felt like she was tearing at my hair. Anyway, it was all part of the master plan:  stick to the budget. 

Fast forward to high school. I'd hated my short hair for years. Mom had always told me that not everyone was capable of wearing their hair long. Every time I started to avoid getting a hair cut, my hair would grow out more than down. My hair had body. Of course this doesn't mean you can't have long hair. I'm guessing that no one ever told Julia Roberts in the 80s that she couldn't have long, big hair and look how it turned out for her. Mom would always convince me to get it cut by bribing or begging or shaming me.

Well, not ANYTHING in my hair.
(photo compliments of Tenor)
Finally, sophomore year in high school I opted to ignore her comments and began to grow my hair long. I was desperately in need of product, but I was clueless that putting moose or gel or ANYTHING in my hair was going to make it look less like a bale of hay. 

While my two sisters were away at college, my folks took my two brothers and I on vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee over spring break in 1987. On our drive back to Chicago, we stopped in South Bend so Mom could attend the Mom's Weekend. 

While Mom was busy at functions with my sister, Dad took me to the student center. Sitting in a booth, he instructed me to check out hair styles, and pick one. Then he selected a salon out of the phone book and drove me there. He walked me in and then he waited in the car.

A sweet woman named Carla took care of me. She was VERY short and so kind. She essentially gave me a pageboy. Because my hair was incredibly dry, she suggested that I wet my hair with hot water, rub mayonnaise in it, and cover it with a hot towel and a plastic bag once a month. Life changing. My hair was thrilled with the moisture and my self esteem nudged up in the right direction with my new hairdo.

I still remember how embarrassed I was when I realized that I was supposed to give Carla a tip. It was the first time I'd done anything like that solo and Dad didn't explain to me that I needed to tip her. We looked up the salon in the phone book once we were home, and I mailed Carla a note and a few dollars. 

This encounter with Dad always makes me smile, and wonder. His job stressed him out a great deal. Our bank balance caused him to worry. He lived in fear of being laid off, because of the economy. He was happiest when listening to Irish music or attending my brothers' sporting events. Usually Mom was the 'tuned in' parent. It strikes me as very sweet that he not only noticed what I needed, but that he swooped in and helped me when things got hairy. Couldn't resist.  

I'm blessed that my parents are still living. Dad is 82. I haven't asked him for hair advice in a long time. 

Anyone else have a story of when your dad surprised you by tuning in? Anyone need to rebel to achieve the hair that you liked? Anyone else pout as a teen because their folks drove to a place like Tennessee instead of driving a bit further to go somewhere sunny for spring break? (I'm raising my hand here, guilty of bad hair and a bad vacation attitude). 

Coming soon: last week's drama, actually it was all on Wednesday. A scary mom moment. 

June 15, 2022

Yellowstone has open cabins, act quick, grad party & weird sleep in review, & pasta anyone?

Anyone thinking of going to Yellowstone and staying in a Frontier Cabin at Roosevelt (very sought after part of Yellowstone) starting July 15-24? I urge you to go over to their website and see if the cabins (yes, plural) that I just cancelled are still available. 

No need to panic, we're still going to Yellowstone (even though they are having flooding issues, I assume will be ironed out by the time we arrive). I just whittled down our mammoth reservation. Sadly, we aren't able to arrive until July 25th. I had multiple cabins reserved from July 15th-July 29th, knowing we would never need all of those dates, but Reg's final basketball tournament is July 24th. Grr.

Fortunately, last summer when I had to wake up in the middle of the night to reserve our cabins with a special, secret code given to us once the park cancelled our '21 reservations, I decided to book extra cabins in addition to our targeted two week stretch. Those extra cabins have saved the day. We will stay in two cabins with bathrooms July 25th- 29th, and then we will bop over to two Rough Rider cabins for the last few days. 

What's a Rough Rider, you ask? A cabin without bathroom. Glorified camping. Communal bathrooms are down the path. I can do anything for two days, right? I will report back to let you know if I can ACTUALLY do anything for two days. Please feel free to vote in the comments about whether or not you think I'll survive.

All of our cabins are equipped with two double beds, but one of our Rough Rider cabins boasts 3 double beds. That is dreamy to our clan. Less sharing. Ed cannot go with us because of his internship. He's not all that upset about it. Less out-doorsie than some of our offspring. Coach was hoping we'd cancel the whole thing and I do admit at this point it feels a bit like a forced march, but some of the kids are excited to go. Hoping we enjoy it. 

I imagine I will not be sleeping my best in a full size bed in a bare-bones cabin, but not to worry. The last few days, I've been sleeping like a hibernating bear, perhaps storing up for the big trip (even though it doesn't start for 6 weeks). I attribute my need to sleep to:  the grad party, and allergy shots. 

I slept around 8 hours Sunday night. Then on Monday afternoon, I dragged Reg and Curly to the endodontist, who is hoping Reg's tooth survives - we're waiting, both kids saw the dermatologist, and I squeezed in my allergy shots. 

I couldn't keep my eyes open on the drive home, so I crawled into bed at 4:00 pm. I woke up at 5:45 pm. What? Remember how my allergy shots knock me out? Think back to the tornado last year that ripped thru our neighborhood, and I never heard a thing. I slept over 10 hours Monday night too. What is even in those allergy shots, and why can't they sell me some on the side, so I can sleep like the dead more often? 

Prepare for battle. 
June 11th was the combined Mini /Curly grad party. The party was fun, but as the hostess with the most-ess, there really never seems to be enough time to visit with everyone. 

My sisters were some of the first guests. I was in the kitchen fussing over the trays of mostaccioli that I insisted on producing in ridiculous mass quantities AGAIN. Who makes that much food for 50 adults, and 20 teens? When will I learn that I don't need enough food for an army at these gatherings? In addition to mountains of pasta, we served Italian Beef and sweet and sour green beans from a collection of crockpots plugged in around the kitchen. 

Is there name for what's wrong with me?
 My kids are not too happy to be eating
 leftover pasta. What I wouldn't give
 to be able to dive into a plate of it.

Anyway, my sisters greeted me, I said hello back. Then I turned to Ann, who also has Celiac disease, so this relates to her:  "Mini picked up the Portillo's salads but didn't realize until she got home that they put pasta in them. The receipt even said, no pasta, which is how I ordered them. I called, and they're remaking the salads and Pat is gonna grab them on his way."

Ann stared at me blankly. Cat got your tongue? Apparently the 'not talking to me thing' because I wrote a funny story is ongoing. The family weekend at a resort in Wisconsin is in less than two weeks. I can hardly wait. I doubt I'll get to spend much of the weekend with my folks, since my sisters will hover and box out. 

I'm not all that interested in conversing with Ann, or Marie. But really, why come if you can't be cordial? 

Cookie making central. Guess who was happy
when the occasional cookie broke in
 half and therefore became fair game?

I continued to cook pasta, strategically place appetizers, offer people drinks, chat with guests, start the 'Mini' movie highlighting our high school grad, etc. When I was passing out the cookies (below) where Marie was sitting with her daughters and other nieces, I joked about a few funny parts of the video. 

I never went out of my way to single out either sister to talk to them. Aunt Leprechaun was also there, and I really didn't get a chance to talk to her either. Family members tend to know more folks at these shin-dings, whereas guests who arrive and don't know anyone I feel like need to be attended to a bit more. Am I wrong?  

Cookies the girls and I made. Mini's grad colors:  yellow and black. Curly's: blue, and the high school mascot is a hornet. 

Eventually I was in the kitchen with Delilah and Nettie, Mini's bestie's mom. My two sisters leaned in through the sliding door from the deck, and in very weak, annoyed, whispery-tones, they spoke hissed: "Oh, thanks." "Yeah, nice party." Marie's mouth was drawn into a straight tight line. 

Me:  OH OK. YOU HEADING OUT. HAVE FUN AT THE WHITE SOX GAME TOMORROW. (Marie organized a family outing for the next day, my kids decided to caddy instead and Coach and I took a pass, but the next morning when the girls weren't needed to caddy, they ended up going to the game). 

Marie:  (shrugged and made a sort of disgusted face)

Not even sure how to interpret that. 

When they left, Nettie turned to me and asked:  GOSH, WHO DIED? 

I was glad to have witnesses to their surly behavior. Nettie happens to be one of 9. She read my story and she just doesn't get what there is to be upset about. She reports that she and her siblings all look back and laugh at how they were raised and the stuff that went on. I try to explain, my sisters still drink the Kool Aid. 

Anyone want me to livestream the weekend in Wisconsin? It might be interesting. Who wishes they live close enough to come join us for a plate of leftover pasta? Or a yummy hornet-shaped cookie? 

June 13, 2022

Well, that bites . . . literally

On April 26th, Reg had an ortho appointment at 4:30 pm. That feels like last week, and yet it was a month and a half ago. I just fumbled around with my giant desk calendar that sits on my island, so sure was I that this appointment was in May. 

Anywho, after the appointment Reg hopped in the car where I was waiting. "Only like 6 more weeks. Then I get my braces off." 

On our drive straight to travel ball, Reg complained a bit. We've been going to the same place since Ed was 3 years old and required an expander. Yes, THREE.YEARS.OLD. 

Ed's top and bottom teeth didn't line up right. He couldn't chew properly. He sucked on his food. When he was tired, he'd sit at the table almost like he was in a trance with his little lips pursed as he worked on his food. It's the face one makes when peanut butter is lodged on the roof of one's mouth. I'd constantly remind him STOP SUCKING, CHEW. He needed to make a concentrated effort to chew. 

I shared my frustrations with the dentist and he sent us to the ortho. Ed then wore an expander (maybe something even before the expander?) with headgear at night. The drool while he slept would collect in his chin strap, leaving him with a bright red, raw chin. 

At the ortho, Ed was a champ. Younger than most of their patients, the staff marveled at his willingness to cooperate, chit chat, etc. Plus he was as cute as a bug's ear. Ed's 21, so I've been going to this place for 18 years, if anyone's counting. 

A few years ago, the ortho retired. He'd recovered from something as a young man (lymphoma?). He retired early and planned to do volunteer work, because he wanted to give back after being blessed with his eventual good health. He was a great guy, always very engaging.

Through a gradual process, he handed the practice off to new people. Reg and Curly, who experienced the original group, feel the new people do not measure up. Wires don't fit quite right or get tightened too much, and pieces break off more regularly. The staff comes across as clueless.  

Early on, the new doc tried to get me to come in for a consult about THE PLAN, I was like OH, YOU JUST DO YOUR THING. All the explaining in the world will not make me any more knowledgeable about orthodontics. Save me the 1 hour consult, thank you very much. 

Needless to say, to get one kid closer to the finish line at this non-favorite place felt AMAZING. 


April 26, I sat in my car, ate my dinner from my thermos, and worked on my laptop while Reg was at travel ball. He came out at 8:15 pm. 

Climbing into the car:  OH, MY MOUTH. 

I thought it was just the pain from having braces tightened. Sadly, no. He took an elbow to the front teeth during practice. One tooth was now protruding the littlest bit, and was overlapping the other front tooth. 

Nooooooo!!!!! We were so close. 

I called the dentist. He was at the office on a board member zoom call meeting. He told me to bring Reg in. *This may or may not shock you, but I used to babysit for the dentist's kids when I was 12. 


Adding an extra trip to this off-the-beaten-path place was not ideal.

At the ortho a day or two later, they couldn't adjust anything yet. Too acute, but come back next week. In the meantime:  have x-rays at the dentist. Said I'd have to start bringing him in every 2 weeks after the following week. They tried to send me back to the dentist for x-rays, claiming he had the better equipment. There was some back and forth with a few unnecessary phone calls. Finally the dentist called me personally to assure me that he'd told them how to do their job that they needed to do x,y,z x-rays on x,y,z machine. 

How did they not know this? Now, I had to go BACK there for x-rays that they should've taken. Dentist was like, it's OK - you can just do it next week. No need to go back today. Sweet mother. 

We've been going every few weeks. On June 2nd, I sat in my car for an hour and 10 minutes for an appointment that should've taken a few minutes. What?


Reg later told me that he fell asleep in the chair, they'd left him laying there for so long. The office staff was like, OH, IT'S BECAUSE WE NEEDED TO TAKE SOME MORE PICTURES. HIS TOOTH IS CHANGING COLOR. More photos should not have taken that long, unless of course they don't know what they are doing, like which tooth do we take a photo of? 

My internal dialogue that had recently celebrated an end in sight for braces was now going: TOOTH CHANGING COLORS? WHAT NOW? WE'VE BEEN HEARING THAT THE TOOTH WAS LOOKING FINE. EVERYTHING'S FINE, RIGHT? 

Reg and I have an appointment at an endodontist later today. Can you hear that? It's me weeping. Poor Reg. Root canal? What are we looking at? No idea. Will the braces be extended? I'll keep you posted, in the meantime - dental nightmare stories? Clueless orthos? I'm afraid to ask. 

June 8, 2022

catchy daycare catch phrases

Kids and babies in my care learn a few specific phrases that don't necessarily translate to the world outside of my daycare. I thought I'd share them here in case you want to borrow them, or laugh at how my offspring use my lingo against me. 

Also, I want to point out to you how JOYOUS life is while I'm not babysitting. Since Wilhelm the worst was dropped off at my house three mornings a week all summer for the past three summers, this year is different. Different, as in, glorious. No tots or babies means that I can actually take a break. 

There are projects and things to focus on, don't you worry - but a break from diapers and toys all over the family room and the weekly folding of, and shuffling into the corner of the dining room of high chairs . . . that kind of a break is very welcome. 

The tots and babies will all be 3 months older when next we meet, and I have high hopes that three of them will no longer be in diapers. Fingers crossed. They will be that much easier to care for, since they will be more mature. Right?

I will only have one baby, Ellie, in the fall, but by then she will be 15 months. Hooray. She's so cute. Her older brother has been dropped off here since he was 12 weeks old, and he (like the other guys) feels like family. 

Anyway, Ellie was starting to crawl before the school year ended. She was a decent escape artist and if I didn't have her planted in an exersaucer, she could sometimes scoot out into the kitchen. While that is against my rules, it is tough to enforce with a baby. 

AH AH AH:  I teach my littles that they aren't allowed to cross the border with a very firm, AH AH AH, combined with a stern face. It doesn't take a lot of creativity to imagine my own offspring tsk-ing me at times if they don't want me to go in a room or touch something of theirs by mimicking me with a sharp AH AH AH. Ellie will be introduced to the AH AH AH come end of August. 

NIGH-NIGH THE BABY:  Just before Ellie was born, her mom texted me and asked me to clarify something. She'd asked her 2 year old what songs he would sing to the new baby. 2 year older big brother to be, Logan, was humming something that she couldn't identify. It was nigh-nigh the baby.

This is the schedule at my house:  eat lunch, clean up toys, read a book, lay down for diaper changes/run to the potty. Then when we are all set for naps, we sing nigh-nigh the baby. They march up the stairs, or I carry them, and they hop into beds. All praise the routine. 

Fun fact:  a friend once came here to have lunch with me during nap time. She watched as my small fries hopped up after their diapers were changed, singing our nap time tune, and happily climbed the stairs. She was awestruck at their cooperation. 

The start of nigh night the baby:  When Lad was a year and a half, my mom and I drove around one night to look at houses? Front doors? Something I couldn't afford. Lad started getting tired and was crying in his car seat, so my mom tried to get him to fall asleep. She was like OK, GO NIGH NIGH. It morphed into she and I singing nigh-nigh the baby in order to lengthen our drive-around time. 

I called the confused mom after I got her text asking me if I had any clue about this mysterious song. Embarrassed as I was, I sang nigh-nigh the baby. She was like THAT'S IT! THAT IS WHAT HE IS SINGING. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? 

*Mini does not want me to share this video because you can see that my house is messy, phew baby - if you think this upstairs hallway is messy - you would not be able to handle the rest of the house. Anyway, this year the nigh night the baby habit became less lullaby like and more aggressive, because the 2 year/3 year old boy crew would go potty and head upstairs ahead of me while I was still bogged down with diaper changing. The boys would hide upstairs and wait for me to chase them to their beds. I reached through the bannister once to grab at them, and then it was 'a thing.' 

Enjoy . . . it's a 19 second snippet of my formerly peaceful nap time routine. 

My own children sing this to me when I fall asleep on the couch watching a movie. Or if I can't keep my eyes open while trying to watch a movie. Or when one of us says good night 'earlier' than the teen crowd deems normal. 

Have I mentioned that I live with a bunch of comedians?

TOO MANY TIMES:  This is my favorite. It has a very worthwhile purpose. If you know toddlers, then you get that they are a repetitive people. For the love of all things, do NOT repeat the same words to me 50 times in three minutes. I can't. I won't. For example, the twin girls that just turned 2, who I adore, will alert me that a truck is on the road when we drive ANY WHERE. 

"A truck, a truck, a truck, a truck, a truck." Or when I suggest that we might get to go outside before lunch, they will repeat at nauseum:  "Go outside, go outside, go outside." - see how I am ending it here with a period, you're welcome. In real life there is no actual end. Thus, my need to institute a TOO MANY TIMES rule of thumb. Eventually, tots get the point that it is time to shut their little miniature pie holes. 

*The twins did not get the point at the start of summer, but I happen to know that their mother is utilizing the same correcting technique. MAYBE they will utter something once come August. One can hope. 

My family members LOVE to use the TOO MANY TIMES words against me, or one another, or they get crafty and aim it at commercials, etc. It's fun, you should try it. If I repeat something that I may have asked them to do a million times, they will say  TOO MANY TIMES, to me - their mother, the one who COINED the dang phrase. 

What weird phrases do your people use, even if your people are not toddlers? I get that non-toddlers need to be redirected with family phrases too. Do tell. Or, which of the above phrases might you find useful in your own world?

June 6, 2022

some posts just write themselves IN TWO INSTALLMENTS

It was a weird week with the holiday, so if you missed my post from Thursday, check it out here so you can appreciate this chapter of the getting Mini's grad photo taken saga. We'll wait. 


Clarify:  Mini told me recently that the reason she didn't know she was supposed to choose a yearbook photo was that she doesn't pay attention to announcements at school. It wasn't an overlooked email as I'd initially thought. Not sure if that impacts our empathy for her 'situation', but there's that. 

Finally in mid May, I texted Mini during the school day:  We are going to JC Penny today at 5. Shower when you get home. 

I called in advance. Explained that we just needed senior portraits. Head shots. Was that something they could do. Sure. Simple, right?

Oh, before I made the JC Penny appt, I took a ton of photos of Mini outside our home in front of a bush. Greenery as the backdrop. She hated all 50 of them, but could've been convinced to select one. I was unaware that she was so critical of her appearance. Now that I know, we will have to work on encouraging self love, along with moving towards having her willing to hug people to show affection. Not sure if you realize, but in addition to not paying attention to announcements at school, Mini doesn't hug. 

This was a cute
photo, before I made it
creepy looking by
erasing my kid's face.
I really didn't want to have one kid on my wall who didn't have a professional photo. Greenery backdrop looks a little different than what the three older boys had, along with a lack of professional lighting, etc. So in order to chase the dream of having a professional photo, we prepared to go to go to JC Penny. 

Mini couldn't find the shirt she'd JUST worn for my outdoor photo shoot like two days before. I'm rarely speechless, but there I was. I shrugged, uttered a few guttural sounds blaming the state of her room, then offered her dressy solid colored options from my closet. 

We dropped Reg off at b-ball a full hour early in order to make the one appointment JC Penny had available. Basketball was very near the mall, so I had to combine the two. I'd contemplated dragging Reg along for the photo session and dropping him at the gym afterwards in case the courts weren't free. Looking back, I thank my lucky stars that he was happy to be an hour early rather than witness what was to come.

The woman at the JC Penny desk asked me to choose some backgrounds.



Me:  OK, WELL - SO LONG AS THEY ARE JUST HEAD SHOTS. (with 12 different angles?)

*is this a difficult concept? When the boys had their photo shoot, they had 9-12 photos taken. All in the suit, same background. Just 12 attempts to capture a good smile, etc. 

She insisted I pick out more than one background. I eye-rolled and indicated the plain white one even though I just wanted the gray. 

As the woman went to 'set up' the room, she asked Mini if she played any sports in school. 


I knew where this was headed, but Mini looked confused. 


Lady:  OH, REALLY? OK. 

Mini and I exchanged a look. She called Mini into the room and I followed her. My-way-or-the-highway-photo-shoot woman told me I couldn't come in. Oh, was this a covid thing, or did she just not want anyone interfering with her bossy-pants photo session? I stood just outside the doorway of the 5 x 10 foot space. 


Mini, who was wearing my dressy top, shorts that she threw on not intending them to be in the photo, and athletic slides,  looked at her blankly. I wanted to ask WHY ARE HER FEET IN THE PHOTO IF IT IS NOT A FULL BODY SHOT? instead I hollered from the doorway, 



I didn't hear her say this. Mini told me later. I really didn't want to waste this trip, energy, effort, etc. I really wasn't in the mood to humor ANYONE. But from my stalker-in-the-doorway spot, I watched as my kid kicked off her athletic slides while sideways glancing at me. 

Next the woman had Mini place the palm of her hand on the side of her face, as if she'd sustained a flesh wound on her face and she was trying to stop the bleeding. 

Again, not about to order that nonsense. 

I mouthed the words to Mini:  SAY SOMETHING. SHE'S NOT LISTENING TO ME. 

Mini's face resembled an angry emoji, as if this was my fault. Swell. 

Next:  photos of Mini turned backward, looking at the camera over one shoulder. I had stuff to do at home. I was mid senior video and I feared this was a waste of my time. I wanted to bang my head on the wall. 

Photo-shoot-run-amuck-lady:  OK, NOW I WANT YOU TO LAY ON YOUR BELLY. 


I hissed:  HEADSHOTS. 

Not that it mattered. 

Take my word for it, Mini was laughing after
 having been dragged into position. What is
 wrong with, SO CAN YOU SCOOT

The lady then momentarily forgot that Mini wasn't a 9 month old or a toddler and is, in fact, 18 years old and 5'11". She grabbed my daughter by the ankles and scooted her backwards a few feet. 

Why, oh why, did I not see this coming so that I could video this unexpected moment?  I snapped a photo but bossy pants was walking away from Mini by then.

The torture 12 poses were finally wrapped up and we were told to sit in the waiting area. My-Way-Or-The-Highway was busy doctoring the photos up with words like 'graduate' arched over Mini's image, because that's traditional. Apparently. 



Mini asked if we could be released from the basement studio, but she was told that the pics were almost ready and emailing wasn't an option. 

At last, we stood in front of the computer to select the poses that we liked. Bossy scrolled right through all the nonsense ones and actually said SO YOU DON'T WANT ANY OF THESE, RIGHT? 

Now? NOW - SHE GETS THE MESSAGE? Super strange. There were a total of 2 photos that we didn't classify as Cheez-Whiz. One of the weird ones was a horizonal photo of Mini's face, but not centered. Hey JC Penny - the artistic world called, they are declining your membership application to the artsy world. There was a ton of space on one side of her as if she was posing with a buddy who forgot to show up. I asked if she could crop that one and make it look like a regular head shot. Now we had 3 to choose from. Small miracles. 

Never in my life have I uttered the words 'head shot' more in a one hour window. 

Mercifully there was one photograph that both Mini and I found acceptable. Of course it was on the white background vs the gray, but the saying about beggars and choosers applies here. DONE! 

On the way home, Mini was wishing we'd been assigned the other woman who was working at the time. I was like:  NOT SURE IT WOULD'LVE MATTERED. MAYBE THAT'S JUST HOW THE PLACE OPERATES. Mini thought differently. 


Needless to say, we cry laughed all the way home. I celebrated when I got an email from JC Penny asking about my experience. I was happy to share my feelings. 


June 2, 2022

some posts just write themselves

Mini doesn't like to get her photo taken. We also know that she keeps a messy room. Can't be bothered to check emails. Prefers to sleep till noon. Loses her phone, usually in our home, daily. And, she has a full ride to Notre Dame, so we are very forgiving  of these somewhat minor issues. 

When it was time for senior pictures, she sort of forgot. Morning of she was ransacking my closet to find something solid color to wear vs planning it out in advance. Not sure if it's because of covid, but the school used to have kids sign up for an appointment at the school building the summer before they were officially seniors. Mini's photo was taken during the school day. If it had been a summer sign up, I think she would've been more focused on it. 

Translation:  I would've been more focused on it, because I would've made the appointment.

First try:  She'd gone TOO long without having her hair cut. She looked like a lioness. Her entire body, not just her head, was sort of tilted on an angle, as if the photo guy had just stepped off a tilt-a-whirl, or been high. The photos were a little goofy. 

For some reason, the proofs were never sent to me, so 6 weeks ago I emailed the yearbook guy for help finding the proofs. In other words, I just realized a few weeks back that my kid failed the photo session and re-take session. She passed all of her classes with flying colors, so letting it slide. 

When I FINALLY found her photos on the photographer website (I think she was labeled as something other than senior which is why her pics were sort of lost), I was also able to view the re-takes. 

Mini completely forgot about retakes, apparently. She wore a long sleeve t-shirt and pulled part of her hair up on her head in a clip. A hairdo she NEVER does. She'd either just attended tennis practice and was sweating, or she went to school in a messy bun and plum forgot about retakes. Your guess is as good as mine, but the 2nd round of photos was possibly worse than the first. 

Yearbooks arrived a few weeks ago. Guess who neglected to respond to the school's email asking her to pick a proof for the yearbook? Yep. The one and only. The one they chose without Mini's input was not a great representation of her. 

Sometimes we have to live with our choices, or in this case our lack thereof. 

I told Mini I still wanted a photo of her to hang on my wall of fame of teens who I've survived living with through high school family room wall. Neither of us  wanted to order from the photographer's options.

I didn't want to pay for a full photo session with a 'real' photographer, because Mini was NOT about to do a bunch of poses while leaning against a tree, or sitting on a random chair in a forest preserve, with a wardrobe change. 

The professional photo task has been on my to do list for weeks. 


I did take a break today in order to stuff all
 my toddler/baby gear into a storage room
 under the basement stairs. 4 junior chairs,
 a toy kitchen, 2 bouncy seats, 4 high chairs,
 and two exersaucers. Let's hope when I attempt
 to organize the rest of the
house it actually looks organized. 

It is WAY past my bedtime. I just wrapped up the graduation video for Mini with music, transitions, blood, sweat, and tears (those last three are not visible in the actual video). I have not tried to burn it to a DVD yet. I will wait till I have able bodied teenagers to resuscitate me do it for me in case the computer argues with me. 

The next part of this tale will have to wait until Monday.

Also, Curly graduates tomorrow and she just reminded me that I need to make some adjustments to her dress. 

And, my good friends from Texas are coming for dinner on Friday. HOORAY. At this point it might be easier to sell the house and move, than it would be to clean and organize the house by Friday. Someone has been overly involved with a certain video project. 

At any rate, sorry to leave you with a cliff hanger, but the next chapter is worth the wait. Tune in for a guaranteed belly laugh. I plan to be back to my Mon/Wed schedule - the holiday messed that up this week. 

Feel free to take guesses at what happens next. No, I didn't collect everyone's yearbook and replace the unsatisfactory photo of Mini in each one. If I stole your guess, good try.