October 31, 2022

microwave update: a scary story (key words: frozen & unpopped)

 MICROWAVE - update #1, drafted on Tuesday evening . . . stay turned for the ending

In Jenny's comment on last week's post, she asked for a microwave update. I hollered at the computer:  TODAY, JENNY - IT'S COMING TODAY. (Jenny, did you hear me?). I was a wee bit excited. 

Harp music played, angels sang, and I decided that miracles do happen. 

The microwave arrived direct from Thermador about a few weeks ago, and then I had to organize ABT to come and install it. I'd been guessing when it was going to be delivered because Thermador had no idea when it would arrive, so I kept scheduleing install, and then cancelling it. It arrived THE DAY AFTER I'd had an install schedule. 

I emailed my guy, Robin, at ABT to see if he could bump up my installation. The 1-800 number had given me Nov 10th as the next available date. I also inquired if they'd haul away my unique bedroom furniture broken washer. 

He emailed me back:  OCT. 25TH & YES, FOR $40 THEY'D TAKE MY WASHER AWAY.

Washer removal - SOLD to the guys with the giant rubber band who are trained to move appliances down flights of stairs. 

At least it looks pretty.
That afternoon, Tuesday, they installed my microwave in minutes flat while tots ate lunch. I asked if they knew anything about hoods, because my hood isn't working, of course. They didn't. *sigh* They hauled away the washer and drove away. 

As a treat, I zapped a frozen GF muffin during nap time. 49 seconds later, I removed from the microwave . . .  a frozen muffin. 

Are you blinking? Shaking your fisr in the air? Staring at the screen wondering how this could be possible? 

There was power. The drawer rolled out. The time counted down. The light went on. The timer beeped, signaling done. But - frozen.  

I called the guys. They instructed me to make  popcorn. Nothing popped. They returned a bit later and decided that one side of the outlet, that is buried inside the island, didn't work right. They switched the plug to the other side of the outlet and the popcorn popped. 

I gave them the bag of popcorn as a parting gift along with a fat tip. All that to say, it was a little dicey, but we have lift-off. If you are new here, or if you've just forgotten the timeline - we've been without our micro-drawer since Mother's Day. 

*editing to add:  Coach, Reg, Curly and I just ate leftovers for dinner. You know, lots of heating up of plates, etc. I looked around mid-meal and laughed.

Me:  You guys, we all used Lad's old, college counter top microwave instead of the new drawer. Heck, we could've used dueling microwaves in order to heat up food simultaneously. 

We're silly.


Update to the update:  I drafted this on Tuesday. On Wednesday I continued to behave like Pavlov's dogs and mostly used the old, counter microwave. 

Coach returning the college
microwave to the kitchen.

I finally spent a solid 30 minutes cleaning Lad's old college microwave. Coach hauled it down to the basement for me. Now we'd be forced to remember to use our actual microwave drawer. 

Coach and I went out to dinner. I told the kids to eat leftovers and tossed a bag of frozen veggies in the micorwave drawer for them. 

Five and a half minutes later - the frozen vegetable were still FROZEN. Say what? While we drove to the restaurant, I called ABT. I was transferred three times. Finally  I talked to a guy whose mind was blown by my situation.

Remember how the install guys thought there was something wrong with the outlet? And I was blond enough to believe their blondness?  This guy on the phone pointed out that this was not a sign that the outlet was bad. If the outlet was bad the microwave would not have gotten any power. DUH. 


The guy said he'd send someone out on Friday.

An ABT guy named Ray showed up Friday morning. This is the guy who came to our house to fix our forever failing fridge drawers back in '17 & '18. They broke about a dozen times in a year and a half. Remember? Ray's pratcially family. He was happy to see me, but blown away by the microwave saga. 

Happy Halloween.
Sesame Street costumes circa '14
Turns out the microwave drawer hinges needed to be adjusted. They were not in alignment, so the microwave didn't think the drawer was properly closed. That's why it didn't heat up. He fixed it in a few minutes.

Then he told me what to do with my hood. I just needed to hit a reset button by holding down a button. It has a built in timer to let me know it's time to clean the filters. Just like that, I got two appliances up and running. 

Have you had a blond encounter that you fell for? Who is sad that my broken washer is no longer serving as a laundry sorting table in my bedroom? What have you done out of habit lately? 

October 26, 2022

a recipe & waving the white flag, or just plain hollering "DO MORE"

I think I promised a microwave update, and/or a daycare update in my comments yesterday. I thought I could cover those things and the below. Silly me. Those other topics will come soon. And a tailgate story. It's a doozie.

My frustration levels of late are sky high. It's cyclical and we're at the I-might-lose-my-mind part of the cycle. My mind-losing doesn't happen at the same time every year - I'd even venture to say it might skip a year occasionally. It's unpredictable is what I'm saying. 

Million dollar question:  



I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Just because I can do everything, doesn't mean that I should. And by this I do not mean to imply that I am actually doing the housework that needs to be done. The place needs a good cleaning.

In years past, I've had a day off during the week, but this year I don't. I like to pretend that Friday is my day off in a Jedi-mind trick kind of nonsensical way, because I only have 2 kids in the morning and then two preschool bus kids join us at 11. Easy-peasie, perhaps - but NOT a day off. 

I'm doing all of the laundry. Almost all of the groceries. 95% of the meals. I'm paying all of the bills, communicating with insurance, emailing teachers, updating the health office on Reg's medications, scheduling all of the doctor appointments, questions, and zooms, editing everyone's papers, and driving kids back and forth to sports and friends (Coach does share this duty whenever he is home). 

Coach works longer hours than me and it's true that I'm physically in the building during the day, but dang it . . . I never stop. EVER. If the phone rings, I hop over to the laundry basket on the couch and fold while I talk. Or, I empty/load a dishwasher. I make lists of phone calls I can handle while I'm on Bluetooth driving.

No one here unloads or loads the dishwasher anymore BUT ME. What happened? I think part of it is that Coach used to help more on Tues/Thurs mornings, but on those 2 mornings he now drives Reg and Curly to school. Reg can't drive again until Feb. 1 - assuming he remains seizure free. 

I enjoy a few of the finer things in life, and for me that includes:

I took this sunrise pic on a recent
early morning run. I knew my phone
 camera wouldn't do it justice.

    praying/attending mass,

    working out till I drip in sweat daily, 

    watching my kids play sports (only 2 kids home but they both play a ton of sports), 

    writing this here blog,

    and trying in my 'spare time' to write a book which includes attending a writing group twice a month and submitting stories/chapters to publications while I cross my fingers, hoping to get something published. 

I don't watch anything. * I am hoping to watch the new ADHD documentary called Disruptors tonight.* I read for a few minutes as I drift off to sleep. I don't drink wine very often, tailgating is the exception (my readers nod, suddenly understanding why I enjoy tailgating so much). I rarely see friends (see: LOVES to tailgate). 

Cowboy caviar recipe -
 per Beth's request.
For the love of everything, I have dreams, people and those dreams do not include:  cleaning toilets, sweeping the kitchen, dealing with a dog I don't own, vacuuming, WIPING down a perpetually messy countertop because my people do not wipe it down after they make a sandwich, snack, or cereal, collecting Reg's mislaid clothes from EVERY surface on the first floor, dusting, changing sheets, and locating items that smell bad in the fridge. 

I've waved the white flag. I addressed Coach, Reg, and Curly after dinner last night. YOU NEED TO DO MORE. I DON'T WANT TO MAKE LISTS. YOU ARE ALL OLD ENOUGH - DO SOMETHING WITHOUT BEING TOLD. 

Coach unloaded the dishwasher today. Curly emptied all of the bathroom garbages last night because I told her it needed to be done before I returned from writing group. Reg sat with me to finally register him for AP classes. Lad swept the kitchen today. 

I've been frustrated because the house is a mess.

I found this behind the door
when I cleaned out a small
 section of the laundry room
the other day. Small sections
 is about all I have time for.
One of Mini's best projects. 

I'm cracking the whip over here. I believe I have everyone's attention. I know with high school basketball starting in the next few weeks that Reg and Curly will be spread thin between homework, practice, and games. BUT - as I pointed out last night during my delightful after-dinner rant, it only takes a few minutes to wipe a counter or unload part of the dishwasher or carry your laundry pile up the stairs or empty the overflowing garbage in your bathroom. 

On a side note, I read a chapter about my freshman year high school basketball tryouts at my writing group last night- and received high marks. I guess that means that I'm not completely distracted by the housework I should be doing. 


I'd love to hear from you. Don't be shy, write a comment and let me know that my time spent writing is time well spent. 

What would you rather do than housework?  Is your home always in perfect order? Are chores shared equally in your home? Did you have chores as a kid? Our kids did, but if I don't write it on a dry erase board or remind constantly, they don't bother anymore. 

*I'm sharing my favorite Halloween costume picture on Monday. Get excited.*

October 24, 2022

Favorite things: the incomplete kitchen edition

I owe you a solid post recapping our ND tailgate. Think food prep, guests staying at the house, and an unexpected, game-day dramatic flare. I've given you a break from tailgating to share my fav things . . . 

I'm calling this incomplete, because I know there are things I'm going to forget. I've been trying to keep a mental list in the last few months. 

Key word here:  mental. 

My mind cannot be relied upon to remember all of the things. Why not jot thoughts down on paper? Well, I do that, sometimes. My kitchen counter is a cluttered tangle of bills, calendars, and grocery lists. No interest in adding to that. Type lists in my phone? Well, let's just say that I have a reminder in my phone to see my therapist, who I no longer see and I have no idea how to turn it off. 

So, we agree - incomplete works. 

My kitchen:

stacking toddler chairs:

Not exactly the dream of every 51 year old woman, but here we are. I'm managing the largest group in my daycare to date. When I realized that I needed more small-people seating this school year, I turned to Facebook marketplace. I watch 11 children this school year, not all at the same time, mind you. 

Tuesday is my biggest crowed. The morning is not too bad. I have 6 littles. Ages 16 months thru four years. At 11 am two kids get off of a bus from preschool and another 3 year old arrives in a carpool from his preschool. From 11 -1 the place is hopping, literally. At 1:00, everyone naps except for a pair of four year old girls, who play together quietly in the basement. 

See what I did there? I got off topic. 

The fact that these chairs are perfect for bigger kids combined with their stacking ability makes me very happy. On weekends, I shove high chairs and junior chairs into my dining room. Stacking chairs take up little space, which makes it easier to scoot past them to access my dining room fridge. 

The green and white stacking chairs (one at the head of the table by the window) are intermingled with 3 wooden chairs. At the top of the photo there are 3 tots in high chairs. Hello, Tuesday lunch bunch.

The first pair I purchased were located in a classy, very pricey neighborhood not far from my home. I picked them up and wished I'd worn plastic gloves. Was it so hard to wipe down the chairs before selling them? Sheesh. Anyway, I cleaned them up and scoured FB marketplace for another one. I think I paid $10 or $15 each for these. I love a good deal and these were a tad more than I'd like to spend on a daycare that I'm hoping to retire from in the next three years or so, but they stack nicely and have made feeding the masses easier. Plus, I might hang on to them for future grandkids. 

chair condoms:

OK, so this is not what these little chair leg-covers are called, but if the name fits - why call it by something more appropriate? 

Since we moved into this house 14 years ago, we've always had difficulty keeping those little fuzzy, sticky pads on the bottom of our kitchen chairs. Our chairs scratch up the floor if the pads come off. When we did the kitchen addition and got a new table and chairs and redid the floors, I'd hoped the new chairs wouldn't require fuzzy pads - but alas. 

Aw, look who is pretending
to be such a good boy. Finn is
 sitting next to a chair decked
 out in chair condoms.
A few months ago, Lad mentioned these to me. I didn't know what he was referring to, but finally I took the time to look them up on Amazon. These stretchy plastic slip-ons fit on the bottom of the chairs and there is a cork-like bottom piece that glides on the floor. 

We won't talk about the dog hair that collects under the cork-like bottom part, but I've assigned the 'wipe off bottom of chairs' to Lad. Occasionally the chair condoms pop off or roll when a chair is being pushed, but the result does not lead to the same panic-stricken feeling brought on by an actual condom. *couldn't resist* In general they stay in place and do a great job of protecting the floor.


I could write a whole post on the glorious things that I've bought second hand. I almost bought a Vitamix second hand.

Total crap.

Tank was with me at Costco last fall. The glass container to my blender broke AGAIN and I was about to lose my mind. I was tired of replacing it. For all the money I was spending to keep that cheap thing functioning, I could've bought a top-of-the-line blender. 

Tank saw me eyeball the Vitamix one and ordered me to put it in my cart. I did. Then I looked at the unopened box for a week or two at home, feeling guilty. 

The Mercedes of blenders.

I searched on FB marketplace and finally decided to buy a used one. I was going to pick up the used one while Curly was in Irish dancing class. Hard to believe that Irish dancing was still a big part of our lives at this time last year. *shudder* The seller lived near dancing.

That afternoon, I headed back to Costco while Coach was home with the babies. I remembered to bring the Vitamix to return. When I got to the service desk, the woman pointed out that the Vitamix  I was returning had gone on sale. It was now going to cost only $50 more than the used one I was about to buy. Hmm. 

I decided to keep the new one. The warranty was a bonus, plus Costco has good customer service. I messaged the seller and apologized for changing my mind. 

I love my Vitamix. I admit that while it isn't recommended, I do occasionally load it in my dishwasher. It's a Bosch and it doesn't melt things or destroy things. 


This post is getting lengthy, but I'm gonna toss in a shout out to Tank's Alexa. As you know, I'm not a music officiando. I do enjoy calling out different 'radio' requests to Alexa and seeing what she comes up with. I was on a John Denver kick for awhile. Then Neil Diamond. Then 80's music. Then The Cure. 

Lately though, I call out:  ALEXA, PLAY BOB DYLAN RADIO. Quite enjoyable. My favorite:  LIKE A ROLLING STONE. 


What are you loving at the moment?  Do you like Bob Dylan? Would you like to join us for lunch on a Tuesday? If so, pack your own lunch. I'll let you sit in one of the big people chairs though. 

October 19, 2022

back-to-back tailgates: fun, exhausting, & the unexpected defense component

I've given my friends strict instructions to slap me and holler:  GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF!  - if . . . 

I sound like I am entertaining the idea of hosting tailgates on back to back weekends while simulatneously opening my home midweek to four out of town college buddies of Tank's all while organizing homecoming rides/flowers/wardrobe/pictures for two high school kids who are staying home . . . as I continue to babysit for an active tot crowd. 

Things that cropped up during the 6 days between the two tailgates included, but are not limited to:  driving home from tailgate #1  in a round-a-bout fashion to deliver Mini (who had a TERRIBLE COLD) to ND, finding out the next day that she had the flu, scoring Mini an appointment at a minute clinic and finding her a ride that would wait while she went to said doc appointment, attending a long-awaited appointment at my rhuemotologist in the city (translation:  half of a day gone), cheering at two volleyball games of Curly's, editing a paper for Tank, zooming while sitting for 9 kids during Reg's 504 plan, getting my allergy shots, adding two kids to my easy-breezy Thursday group because they needed care that Thursday, and potty training twins.  

I powered through all of the above while making 3 HUGE crockpots of chili, 6 loaves of pumpkin bread, 3 loaves of choc chip banana bread, 7 layer taco dip, cowboys caviar, 3 dozen shamrock sugar cookies, rocky road fudge bars, and 60 choc chip cookies. One day I experienced one of my least favorite episodes:  waking up in the middle of the night and then sleep alluding me. I got 5 hours, which beats the week prior when I got a whopping 4 hours and was awake for 20 hours straight. 

Did we have fun? YES, we sure did. Am I exhausted? YES, I am. Does my house look as though the tailgate took place in my home and the cleanup committee walked in, shrugged and opted to skip this place? YES, it does. 

The highlights: 

Oct. 8th we were at Ed's school. We shared our Airbnb with Mini's BFF's parents. Coach and I were up early cooking the make-ahead frozen breakfast burritos that I'd  thawed overnight. We re-heated the sausages wrapped in bacon and put them in a giant thermos. We hoped to arrive to our meeting spot ahead of schedule, because Ed's girlfriend's mom, Lydia, had gotten us a parking pass. We planned to enter the parking area in a caravan with Lydia and her friends in two other cars. 

Running ahead of schedule is not my strong-suit, but we feared the making Lydia wait party foul of having Lydia. We didn't want to be blamed for getting into the lot late and missing out on a great space, so we arrived 10 minutes early. Shock. The couple we shared our bnb with were coming to the field later. Cell service often fails at crowded college events, so we simply said:  LOOK FOR GUMBY. 

Words to live by. 

The weather was perfect. 60 and sunny. I was so very grateful for the beautiful day and for the good night sleep. This was a few days after the 4 hours of sleep and I was thrilled to be feeling so well rested.

Due to a lack of direction from staff, the parking lot was a free for all. Fortunately Lydia hopped out of the car, idenitified a space, and waved us into a spot. 

Coach and I got Gumby into position. One of the other moms in our group, who I'd never met before suddenly popped up on the other side of my car as I was struggling with the big green guy. She offered to help. That's when you know people are good people - not snooty or uppity or anything, because manhandling a foam guy and maneuvering him into postition when it was still chilly out is a sign of a genuinely good person. Let us all go forward and gage how good people are based on their willingness to lend a hand when affixing Gumby to a car roof. 

The day was amazing. Tons of Ed's friends showed up. People praised Gumby for leading them to our car. My food received generous compliments. One of Ed's girlfriend's friends told me I was a queen because of the food I made. The breakfast burritos were a huge hit. The sausages wrapped in bacon were a huge draw. 

Tank had hemmed and hawed about how he wouldn't be able to hang out with his brothers, because they were actually 21 and older and his fake ID wouldn't get him admitted into a real bar. Well, everything worked out because he borrowed an ID of one of Ed's roomies. It was a legit ID. He skipped shaving, donned a hat, and was believeable as a 21 year old. Some of Ed's friends at the tailgate told me that they thought Tank was Ed's older brother vs his younger brother. What do we call that? Art imitating life? Dumb luck? 

We were next to a group of college kids tailgating. They occasionally wandered, or staggered in a drunken stuper, towards our tables and oogled our spread. I don't know each and every one of Ed's friends, or his girlfriend's friends, so I had no idea if people who were helping themselves to our food were imposters. I elbowed Ed occasionally for clarity. Tank was ON IT. So was Lad. 

Tank witnessed a guy swipe a piece of pumpkin bread, take a bite, and make a celebratory face at his friends. Tank realized the thief was not with our group because he rejoined his friends at the neighboring tailgate. He walked up to the offender, snatched the pumpkin bread, threw it to the ground in front of him, and stomped on it. 

OK, this sounds extreme, but my kids were not afraid to send a message in their plight to guard our food. Robbing other tailgates of food goes against proper tailgate code. The rest of us were very entertained at Tank and Lad's dilligence. 

Have you ever had to protect your food? Met new people and feared 'they're gonna think we are weird for (insert whatever - for me, hoisting a Gumby on top of the car), and yet they embrace your weirdness, no questions asked?


October 17, 2022

shop till you drop, a new trigger word, "Where's cute Curly?", and bralette paradise

Not gonna lie, I enjoy clothes shopping. Full price? What's that? Sale racks are my jam. I'm good at stalking them and uncovering great buys. Back in June 

*(yep, drafted this awhile ago, and here it is. I just organized/cooked for 2 tailgates, 2 weekends back-to-back and hosted 4 of Tank's friends for a few days last week and drove home from ND this morning with Mini - exhausted doesn't cover it. I love this post and I hope you will too)

I challenged Curly to remove the clothes that no longer fit her. *I JUST REREAD THAT SENTENCE AND IT MADE ME LAUGH SO I AM LEAVING IT ALONE, but I feel an explanation is due:  


I explained that we were about to go away with my family and I hoped she might wear something that wasn't related to working out for the special occasion portion of the weekend. Turns out she really didn't own much that fit her or that fell in the 'oh, that looks cute' family. How can this be?

Did I just hear an excuse to shop? The girls and I hit Von Maur, my favorite department store. Both girls tried things on. Mini enjoys shopping and she and I have had many good times, long chats while shopping at Von Maur. Curly would rather not shop. What will I do when Mini goes away to college? Clearly, I'll be dragging Curly to Von Maur in order to convert her into a seasoned shopper. 

Both girls tried on a ton of things. There were so many cute tops, it was hard to choose. Mini didn't wear a normal bra. Maybe she wore a sports bra? So she opted to try on most things without a bra. It was, um, in a word, distracting. She was getting frustrated with me, because I was struggling to look past the 'incomplete' or ban-the-bra-60's look, if you will. 

Rest assured, I took no photos, but the girls sensed my discomfort and began preying on me. Mini tossed the word NIPPLE out a few ba-zillion times and enjoyed watching me cringe. She then labelled NIPPLE as a trigger word for me, opting to say it repeatedly. Hey now, I nursed my babies, I can say nipple AND areola. SEE? Between bouts of verbalizing my apparent trigger word loudly, we were cackling. I was hoping no one was in the neighboring changing rooms. 

Morale of the story:  I think Curly now sees that shopping can be fun, if not scarring. The next day between Reg's basketball games, I ran over to return the things we'd decided weren't needed. I realized then that we'd completely missed the sale rack of shorts. Not to worry, I rectified that in a heartbeat. 

We were just reminiscing in Wisconsin with my family that 8 years ago when we first visited, my niece who was about 3 at the time (2.5 years younger than Curly) leaned over the balcony of he room and asked Mini:  "WHERE'S CUTE CURLY?" Well, here she is. Check out this cute NEW outfit modeled by a headless 'Cute Curly'.

*Basketball has been A LOT this summer as both youngest kids are playing travel ball, but the fact that their high school league games are  far from home, but SO near Von Maur has been a comfort to me, maybe not my bank account though. I feel the universe was speaking to me by arranging the games so near my fav place to shop. 

Mini and I enjoyed a more spacious try-on session with Curly in my master bedroom later that night. Mini and I, admonished the novice Curly on the regular with her claims of I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING THAT WILL MATCH THIS . . .  experts chimed in with:  YES YOU DO, THAT'LL MATCH  WHITE, OR NAVY, OR TAN, REMEMBER ALL THE NEW TOPS WE JUST GOT YOU?

 And, Curly:  I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THESE, to which Mini and I were like, YEAH, BECAUSE THEY ARE SO INCREDIBLY CUTE - MAKES PERFECT SENSE . . . insert eye roll. 

Just as when you give a mouse a cookie, the mouse will need milk, when you buy teen girls new tops, they will need new bralettes. 

I ran into Marshalls solo a few days later and bought almost every bralette that they had in the girls' sizes, and a few for me. It was like Christmas morning. We had yet another try-on session in my master bedroom the day before we left for Wisconsin with my family (details on this weekend are coming, not to worry). Then I sent Mini to return the excess. 

This topless changing session was a hoot. There were some almost-heated discussions about who would get to keep which one. I scored an amazing bralette from Gilly Hicks that has a lacey back and goes great with a dress I own. Mini is hoping that we sort of share it. 

Translation, if I let it out of my sight, I will never see it again. 

Gilly Hicks bralette -
this is the lacey back.
I mean, obviously NOT the front.

At one point, Mini sauntered down the hallway to the girls' room to grab a shirt to see if a specific bralette would work with it. 



Giggle, giggle. 

I get no money for endorsing this bra,
but if there is a cuter name for a bra,
 I haven't heard it. Also, for those who
like underwire, or require it, the
bra-llelujah comes that way too.
Say the name with me, it's fun.

Our greatest discovery was the bra-llelujah by Spanx. Holy Toledo. So comfortable. I bought one in an XS on clearance for $8. Curly snagged it. I've been hounding that bra in other sizes ever since. Von Maur has it on sale for $38. Hmm. A far cry from $8. I will continue to stalk it to see if gets marked down further. Perhaps a certain someone needs to stop complaining about not having time to write and admit to the REAL problem afoot. 

Oh, that reminds me of my favorite sale shoe purchase that I have yet to share. Stay tuned. 

Are you a shopper or a dropper? Do you buy and try on at home, or risk embarrassing dressing room situations with teenagers/family members, or have you overheard weird neighboring dressing room conversations? 

October 12, 2022

all the king's horse & all the king's men needed to put Gumby back together again

*A different post poppped up here briefly this morning - a small mixup, but THIS is the post intended for today. I'm a little groggy as I prepare to tailgate at ND this weekend and my sleep is suffering. Can't wait to share about last weekend's tailgate at Ed's school . . . 


After the Sept 10th tailgate, I laid Gumby on the living room couch out of the way as one does. It didn't make sense to roll him back up into a ball, stuff him in a giant bag, and stick him in the storage room. Not when we planned to showcase him at our next Notre Dame tailgate in mid-October.

A few weeks later, Coach ran home during his lunch. I took an important phone call in the study leaving a gaggle of toddlers to entertain themselves for a few minutes in the family room. Coach popped his head into the study as he was heading back to work, mouthing something that wasn't quite SEE YOU LATER or HAVE A GOOD DAY. It was something I struggled to decipher. I wondered if he was telling me that one of the tots was scaling a wall or running with scissors or something. After a few attempts he shook his head and walked away.

That's when it dawned on me. He'd been saying:"POOR GUMBY".

No wonder I was confused, since these are words not usually spoken during a quick dash in and out on Coach's lunch hour. I wandered across the hall to the living room. That's when I saw it. 

You can see the blue pool raft sticking
out between what is left of his legs.
Gumby, who had been carelessly tossed to the floor by a kid who wanted to sprawl on the couch, lay surrounded by shredded, bite-sized bits of his own sponginess. His face was frozen in a look of surprise. Although, if I'm honest, he rocks the 'oh crap' look at all times. He'd barely survived a brutal attack by a certain canine, who wishes to remain nameless. 

At the time of publication, Finnegan has three paws out the proverbial door for this and other recent infractions. I can devote an entire post to Lad's dog and his behaviors. Perhaps another time. 

Sickened as I was, I never collected his dismembered bits, thinking that was a chore Lad should handle. I assured myself that if I could create a lifesize Gumby, then I could patch him back together. 

Lad was remorseful, but he wasn't inspired to watch his dog more closely, clean up the spongy mess, or relocate Gumby to another space. I was very busy, cooking food, babysitting, writitng, attending volleyball games, etc. I'd inspected my creation and noted that despite the scatterings of torn pieces, Gumby really only needed a new foot. 

A week before the tailgate at Ed's school, I was working out in the family room on a Saturday. Lad took Finn out before he left for work. When he came inside, I told him that I was doing a short workout and when I was done, I planned to take Finn on my run. Lad went upstairs to get dressed for work. He didn't tie Finn to the back door. When I'm not babysitting, Finn often roams around the first floor. I walked into the kitchen just in time to see Finn slide into the room as if he was being chased out of the living room by a German Shephard. 

Dangling from his mouth was the remaining part of Gumby's leg. NOOOO!!!

Hearing my cries of disgust, Lad came running. He was apologetic. "I'm sorry. I only left him for 2 mintues to get dressed." He promised to fix the amputated leg. The thing is sponge cannot be sewn to sponge and Lad is a creative guy, but not exactly current on costume creations. 

I ripped away at the new piece to try to
create a jagged edge that might sort
 of 'fit' the original. Don't try this at home.

Before I ran with Finn, a run when my frustrations drained from me, I dragged my green buddy up the stairs and tossed him on the floor in front of my dresser - not far from our broken washing machine. Also not far from the row of three pack-and- play portable cribs that are a fixture under our windows during the school year. Some people deocrate their bedrooms so that they are a sanctuary, a calming place. Our bedroom shows all the signs that we are hoarders who struggle to keep order and maintain balance. 

I regretted not having moved Gumby after the initial attack, but I really believed that Lad would watch his dog more closely. It hadn't occurred to me to store him upstairs - the only place Finn doesn't go. 

After my run, I exchanged texts with Lad. We would figure this out, which translates to:  you will go to the craft store to buy supplies and I will find a way. 

Days later, I stood on my deck during nap time. I stuffed a new foam piece,

 purhcased by Lad to my specifications, inside one of Coach's old undershirts. I glued the top of the t-shirt to the jagged hip piece. Then I stitched through the t-shirt and the foam piece with big, deep sutures, hoping it would hold. I doubt anyone will ever wear the costume again now that Gumby has been repurposed as a beacon at tailgates, so his studiness is not all that important. The green costume was unharmed, so I draped it over my guy's new limb and asked Coach to snap a photo of me with the new and improved Gumby. Then I texted it to Lad. 

A few days later I asked Ed if he had an opinoin about whether or not Gumby make an appearance at the tailgate at his school. Note:  Gumby's green coloring leant nicely to the Notre Dame theme, but I wasn't sure if he would be as relevant at a school where red is the main color. 

I love how Gumby looks as though he
 has this toy shopping
cart tucked under his arm.
New wardrobe,
compliments of Goodwill.
Ed:  Um, I don't know if I have an opinion. 

Me:  Well, will people be able to find us better if Gumby is on our car?

Ed:  Probably.

While it might be rude to reveal someone's size, I will share that Gumby requires a size 3x. I went back to Goodwill and purchased the prefect red and gray shirt. Then I painted the 'IU' logo on the front of the t-shirt, thus expanding his wardrobe. I stuffed him in my car and prepared to introduce him to a new college scene.  

October 10, 2022

Where everyone knows your name, and they'll lend you stuff

Me:  I think the Speed Queen is better at cleaning clothes than our other washing machine. 

Coach:  No kidding, I was just thinking this morning that my workout clothes don't come out of the wash still smelling a little sweaty anymore. 

Wow, such an exciting post. 

Anyone remember Mr. Bill? Does
 this photo give you Mr. Bill vibes?
 It looks like Gumby has been
 impaled by the washing machine. 

My point . . . we've been using the Speed Queen for a few weeks now, and we're liking it. Fun fact  . . . the broken washing machine is still in my bedroom. So, if you're keeping a Hillbilly score card, we have one somewhat functioning 'drinks and produce only' fridge in our dining room and a broken washing machine in our master bedroom and a Gumby lounging in the living room. But hell, our clothes are clean. That has to count for something. 

The day that I went to pick up the new washing machine, I had to wait until Coach got home from work so he could watch a few kids who were going to be here till 5:00 pm.

I raced off on my 35 minute drive up the expressway to get my appliance before they closed. After they slid the big I'm-gonna-solve-all-your-troubles box into the back of the minivan, I burned rubber for 35 minutes to watch Curly play volleyball near home. 

Coach and I got to one of Curly's games this season right at 4:30. We watched the girls warm up for 30 minutes. I've tried to split the difference - squeeze in a few more 'accomplishments' at home, like start a load of laundry, before showing up to a game. I can do without lengthy warmups. Alas, my timing isn't always great, and warmups are not always that long. 

I was on a mission to pick up the washer, for obvious reasons, and I hoped to arrive in time to watch Curly play. Instead, I walked into the gym a few minutes after 5:00. I heard cheering and watched as they shook hands, game over. I turned on my heel to leave the gym while having an internal pep talk. It's OK that you missed this game. Getting the washing machine was a priority. 

Then:  I had an epiphany. 

Background:  Coach had been grumbling a bit about how we were buying the washer through our fix it guy. Translation:  Coach was gonna need to get it up the stairs and install it himself. 

At one point when he sighed about his role, I gave him a little:  HEY, I SAVED $600 BUYING IT THIS WAY. IF NEED BE, I WILL STRAP THIS THING TO MY BACK AND HAUL IT UP THE STAIRS. 

Coach ignored my drama and said he was gonna need a dollie. 

Fast forward to Curly's game:  I walked past a security guard as I left the gym, and then did an about-face. 

Me (to the security guard):  Hi. Do you know any of the Shenanigan kids? 

Security guard:  Um, yeah. A few. (rattles off my offspring's names).

Me:  Oh, great. Well, I'm Mrs. Shenanigan. I have a weird favor to ask. Do you have a dollie I may borrow? My husband needs to get our new washing machine up the stairs, and . . . (in typical 'me' fashion, I give him a bit more of the details than he wants or needs and we are soon best buddies - see what I did there).

Security guard:  Sure. No problem. Come on. Follow me to the grounds department.

How's that for resourceful?  

Coach is impressed, but still not excited about his role in the appliance replacement. He has to drag the old one out of the laundry room. That old washer is now so dead to me that I've forgotten it even existed. 

Getting the new one upstairs
 was only half the battle. 

This all happened to be one of those days where I woke up at 3 am and never went back to sleep. I would've given anything to crawl up the stairs and curl up in my bed at 8 pm. I couldn't complain, because Coach was shuffling appliances around in the small cramped upstairs hallway, then hooking one up. I had to wait until 10:30 pm to go to bed - but hey - I could wake up and wash clothes. The stuff dreams are made of, right? 

Several days later, I hadn't returned the dollie and I was fearful that my security buddy was gonna think I was an equipment thief. Coach organized Reg and Lad to bring the old beast down the stairs. It got stuck on the landing. I had visions of us all sleeping on the 1st floor, unable to reach our bedrooms. They hauled it back upstairs and now it sits in my bedroom. Great place to stack clean laundry. 

Who said the Shenanigans aren't trend setters? 

* In the process, Coach messed up his back. NO! . . .  It's 90% better now, but he couldn't even put on his own socks. I felt guilty for how this deal meant no delivery service, because I'd dictated his involvement. 

My new plan:  if and when my new microwave arrives, have the microwave install guys haul the washer away. 

Oh, I returned the dollie before they put out an APB on it. 

Someone's wardrobe has
expanded. More soon. 

In the meantime:  the rotating, fan-like piece on our dishwasher broke off, because the universes wants me to spend my free time calling appliance places. The good news:  we have two dishwashers.


Have you struggled to get furniture or appliances up or down stairs? Have you ever used unique resources to borrow something? Have you felt responsible for a family member's strained back/ other injury? Do you have a prediction for which of my appliances might break next? Hey now - don't share that thought. I was kidding. 

October 5, 2022

conflict #2 - my not-mom-of-the-year moment, bigger person, & a lil tailgate history

We bought tickets for two ND games . . . both had conflicts. My last post explained more about the ticket process, conflict #1, and seeing my Gumby dream become a reality. It's the little things, or in this case the BIG green things. 

Conflict #2:  The reason I took 

BTW - This is the photo I shared
in a prior post to see if anyone
could figure out what this was. 
This is me outside of my car trying
 to take a photo of Gumby smashed
 up against the window because he
 looked so funny. Well, all I got
 was this reflection of me, because it
 was so sunny. My phone is reflecting
 Gumby's mouth. Couldn't repeat this
 photo if I tried. Not that I would
 try. There's art, and then theirs 'oops.' 
Curly and Reg to the Sept 10th game:  they were supposed to attend the game on Oct. 15th with ALL OF US. The whole family, damn it. 

The high school was under construction, so school started Sept 6th vs mid-August. While the homecoming dance has ALWAYS been in September, this year it was pushed back until . . .  Oct. 15th, because of the delayed school start. Oops.  

We're leaving Reg and Curly home to attend the dance. I'll be begging rides off of people, asking people to take photos of them, and making sure everyone's clothes and shoes and flowers are ready to go before we leave. Oh, the lists I need to make.


The Mom Of The Year Contest Judges called, they want me to withdraw my application, understandably so. 


The kids I sit for enjoyed seeing who
could throw a ball in Gumby's mouth.
Because the Oct 15th game is a night game, we ended up getting a costly hotel room in a hotel that is a far cry from the Ritz. Because hotels aren't stupid, reservations can only be made for 2 nights. Cha-ching. Ed is coming to the game with his girlfriend from their school 3 hours south of Notre Dame. Lad is coming. Tank has two friends flying in from Dallas and Omaha. I'm very excited, but a little anxious about leaving 2 kids home when neither of them can drive and one takes anti seizure meds. 

Flashback to late August: initially when questions arose like:  how do we get tickets to a game that we didn't request, like Sept 10th? Or how will we sell tickets to the game that we can't go to anymore, like Sept 17th? - I wondered what games my sister, Marie, was attending. 

I decided to ask Marie which games she was going to. As an ND alum, she can request more tickets than just the 8 that current parents can buy if they have a kid at the school. I also wondered if she was tailgating, but I refused to ask because I didn't want to appear to be begging for an invite - even though, normal families would extend an invite to their family members attending games. 

Me:  Hey Marie. What games are you going to at ND this year?

Marie:  All of them. 

(it might be just me, but I heard this text as if Nellie Olsen, the brat on Little House on the Prairie, herself had spoken it). 

Me (to myself):  ALL OF THEM? 

About 6 hours passed, then Marie texted me to ask what games I planned to attend. I'd bet money that her husband told her to inquire as a friendly gesture, because really - why the delay? 

She didn't invite me to tailgate. I wanted to do my own thing anyway, but at that point I hadn't found a parking pass. I felt like her lack of forthcoming-ness was a clear line drawn in the sand. I told myself that maybe she was just going to the game. Maybe she wasn't tailgating. 


Becky suggested I use one of my
kids' shirts for Gumby.
Um, not gonna fit.
Sept 9th I was busy texting my friend, Becky (Hi BECKY), who was loaning me her step stool that we were inserting between Gumby's legs. She was championing my Gumby efforts - I was giddy with excitement about how my Gumby tailgating beacon was shaping up. I decided to text Marie. 

Look at me - I was the bigger person. 

Sorry, I misspoke. Gumby was clearly the BIGGEST person. 

Me:  Hey, not sure if you're tailgating or not tomorrow, but you're welcome to come to our tailgate. We'll be in the Stadium Lot. Gumby will be on top of our car. 

Marie:  Oh, we will be in Joyce lot (next to Stadium Lot). We will have this flag above our car. (insert photo of a flag like most other people will display, just saying) Kids just got it for me for my birthday. Where are your seats? If I don't see you tailgating, we can meet at half time. 

* flag on top of your car? That's so last year. Green Halloween costumes are all the rage, sis. 

Mini ended up stumbling upon Marie's tailgate before ours. She then came to ours with Elizabeth in tow. Elizabeth is my favorite niece/goddaughter. She's Lad's age and she's Marie's daughter, and she's a hoot, full of spunk, humor, fun - just delightful. 

Elizabeth witnessed Mini break down and cry while at my tailgate, under the watchful eye of Gumby. This happened when my SIL gave her a little 'It'll get better' pep talk. Elizabeth returned to her mom's tailgate and apparently told her that she'd seen Mini cry. Marie showed up to my tailgate a bit later after Mini had moved on with her friends. Marie was full of compassion for Mini. This was a nice gesture. I was my friendly self. Pointed out my funny car decoration, offered her my tasty food, etc. 

Still, what's her beef? I wrote a funny story from 37 years ago. I asked her to urge dad to click over out of courtesy when someone is calling on the other line.  Really? She can't make a peep about her tailgate or inquire if I need help navigating the ND parent stuff? I don't get it. Proud to say I was the bigger person, but my sisters are a piece of work. 


A look back:  In 2014, Coach and I bought tickets to go to a Notre Dame game. We asked three other couples, loaded them all into the Great White. I hadn't realized that tickets were sometimes available to the public through the ticket office. I was tired of relying on my parents to occasionally invite us to use one of their extra tickets. 

I graduated from Saint Mary's College, and as a student I attended all of the games, but only Notre Dame grads are able to be part of the ticket lottery. 

Coach and I were excited to tailgate and socialize with our friends. I had no parking pass though. I hadn't even heard of StubHub. I called my dad to ask him if it was possible for him to get me a parking pass for that one game, since he was an alum.  I was willing to pay for the pass, but I just didn't have any way of scoring one.  

I really didn't have any information on when the ticket lottery happened or how parking passes were doled out. Was it too late? 

Dad:  I have a parking pass for that game already. I requested it in the lottery, but I'm giving it to Marie. I'm surprising her for her birthday. 

I remember vividly this conversation. I was driving home from my kids' final swim meet in late July. My eyes filled with tears. My breath caught in  my throat. My kids in the back seat asked me what was wrong. I just shook my head and glanced at them in the rearview mirror, and assured them 'no big deal.'

Further explanation, because without it his comment really doesn't have context:  

My dad has never, EVER gotten me a birthday gift. Sure, my parents give me something for my birthday. My dad would never have shopped for something specific for me though. I usually get clothes or something else and it's VERY clear that my mom has selected it for me. Not a problem. All normal and acceptable. 

I never batted an eye about the birthday gift process until my father tells me that he bought something for my sister, specifically. To surprise her. For her birthday. She, herself a graduate of Notre Dame, could've probably figured out a way to get a parking pass. She would've had contacts, or information. 

This is a photo from that '15 tailgate . Tank, Mini, and Reg went to the game at the last minute with my sisters I think, because they had extra tickets. They came over to our tailgate to say hi. That is Tank with an N on his belly. Reg (not pictured) had a D on his belly. The taller kid is a nephew on Coach's side who was a freshman at ND at the time, but he looked like he was a freshman in high school. 

In a Google search, I discovered StubHub. I paid $435 for a parking pass for this one game with our friends. Yep. I did. 

At the game, we walked over to where my sisters (because of course Marie brought Ann) were tailgating. My dad forgot to let ND know that he didn't want a handicapped lot ticket for this specific game. He and my mom had parked in the handicapped lot in recent years. My sisters were in the handicapped lot. There wasn't a lot of tailgating going on.

My friends:  well, glad we ended up over where we are, because it's way more happening by the Great White than it is over in this lot. 

The morale of the story - sometimes we gotta do things our own way, if that means mount Gumby on top of your car, have a kid attend ND for next to nothing after your father has suggested that she attend Saint Mary's to find a husband, or surround yourself with friends who treat you right - then 

Any fun stuff you've done that may have eliminated you from the running as mother of the year, or have you paid way more than necessary for something and ended up totally happy that you did? Any great 'bigger person' stories to share? Do tell. 

October 3, 2022

tailgating my way: he's a beacon, damn it

I need to wrap up the washing machine story. Let's just say the old washer is still residing in my master bedroom, as we continue to embrace our hillbilly lifestyle. I'll share the end of that saga once I know how it all turns out. 


The best thing about having 3 kids away at three different colleges is visiting them. Tank's Jesuit school has no football team. He'll be home for a 9 days starting Oct. 7th. SO . . . I arranged to tailgate at Ed and Mini's schools so that Tank could accompany us. Back to back tailgate weekends. 

I'm conserving on calories now in preparation. 

While you read this, please mull over what tailgate recipes you'd like to share in the comments. For Ed's school, the game is at noon. NOON! I'm thinking breakfast burritos. Thoughts? 


Tank:  What? You've planned both of my weekends home. I want to work and make money since I want to go abroad next semester. 

Me:  Um, this is going to be a ton of fun. You're welcome. 

Sometimes Tank's obsession with making money is great, and sometimes I feel he needs to He's NOT hurting for funds. Don't get me wrong, hard work is a great quality - but time with family revolved around him is a wonderous thing (says his mother, a long suffering middle child). Plus, if we showed up to Ed's college and we did not have Tank in tow, Ed's fraternity brothers would cry in their beers. They've shared some good times with Tank over the yeas, and he's a fan favorite. 


In July I found out the day before the ticket lottery that as parents of a Notre Dame student, we'd have access to up to 8 face-value football tickets. I studied my calendar and tried to predict stuff. 

My sister, Marie, had/has kids at ND, but she offered me no tips ie:  "you'll have the option to buy football tickets", or "join the FB page for class of '26 parents - that has lots of info."  

Thankfully, Tank's good friend's mom 'Martha' is full of tips. Her son swims there.

Any who, Coach was scheduled to teach a handful of times in the fall. Mini and I chose our tickets during our assigned time slot. Rest assured, this sounds easy but of course there was an issue with our sign-in and we were in mini-panic mode till it worked. We chose cheap seats, yet still pricey, if you know what I mean. 

We hoped for a warm weather game, so I chose Sept 17th. Coach was not teaching. I also chose Oct. 15th, because Tank would be home for a week for fall break. Guess what? Both dates ended up having conflicts: 

Conflict #1:  Tank shared the day AFTER ticket sales:  "Sept 17th is Creighton's parent weekend." Not missing that. Way too much fun. We sold those tickets. 

There's a FB page football ticket/exchange strictly for parents of current students. Tickets can only be sold for face value, or less. Great Martha tip. 

As we drove home after dropping a sobbing Mini off, I vowed to attend the Sept 10th, first home game of the season. 

Reg and Curly playing bags in an
 empty spot across from our car.
*My  version of 'going to the game' -  perfectly content to get to campus (solo if necessary), see my kid, tailgate with whoever, and drive the 1 hour 45 min home . . . in other words, I did not need to attend the game. Shh, don't tell my parents or my siblings. They'll wonder if I've hit my head. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy football, but I'm definitely willing to take it or leave it. I'm also OK forfeiting my ticket so someone who really cares can attend. I'm grateful for the excuse to go see my kid though. 

Although Coach was teaching 9/10th, that's the only weekend we could swap out for the 9/17th 'oops'. Looking ahead to next year  . . .

Me:  YOU'RE NOT TEACHING DURING ANY HOME ND FOOTBALL GAMES. *Best to keep our options open. 

I was preparing to attend the Sept 10th game with Coach's sister, her daughter (who was in the adjoining bedroom cheering for Curly during the hilarious and memorable tampon attempt, if you recall), Curly, Reg, and Reg's friend. I texted my SIL that I was fine sending the kids into the game and bypassing being a ticket holder, in case that aligned with her preferences. 

SIL:  Um, if I'm going to ND, I'd prefer to go in the game. (just one more reason she might think I'm nutty, but I know she loves me anyway, so there's that).

We were the only people in the shade
and it was a cooker. The seats are
 just benches, but if you end up in the
 top row like us, you can
lean up against the wall.
#winning - meaning, we were
 winning, unfortunately ND was not
 winning, but when it isn't your
 obsession, it is easy to move on. 

I scurried to FB and found us 6 discounted tickets together in the nosebleed section. 

As the date approached I was busy making Mini admitted that our tailgate was stressing her out. Understandably. She felt pressure to come and hang out all day with us. She wasn't sure if she could steer her new friends to my tailgate. I assured her that she could stop by, say hi, and be on her way. We could meet up after the game and attend mass together, etc. 

I wanted a tough-to-find parking pass close to the stadium. If I was off the beaten path, I knew it would be challenging for Mini. I also figured that Marie would be in the premier lot (although at this point she hadn't shared her game day plans with me). My sister  wears her Notre Dame alum status like a feather in her cap. I refused to do my first tailgate as a half-ass, out in the boonies kind of thing. 

Hard to explain but all four of my siblings either went to Notre Dame or married someone who did. They've all had tickets at their disposal for years, along with  my dad who is an alum. It's sort of a secret society/special club and I didn't want to flub my way through my first I-have-a-kid-here experience, and look like a rookie. 

I bought an insanely expensive parking pass on StubHub. The next morning a mom on the ND FB page responded to my old-ish request after I'd given up hope:  "I HAVE ONE." Face value. Shit. 

Martha assured me that I'd have no problem selling the pricey Stub Hub one. I took her advice, bought the face value one. My blood pressure stabilized a few minutes later when someone on a different 'charge any amount you want' FB page bought my StubHub parking pass for the amount I paid for it. Bullet dodged. 


The tailgate scene at Notre Dame is nuts. Some people use flags on top of their cars to help friends locate them in the sea of cars. A few nights before the game, I bared my soul to Coach.

Me:  You're not gonna like this. You're gonna think I'm crazy, but I have a vision and I might need your help. I want to hoist your old Gumby costume on top of the car while I'm tailgating. He's green, so he looks like a fighting Irish guy. It'll be hilarious. He will be a beacon. 

*I may or may not have initially said that I wanted to 'mount Gumby' (implied:  on top of the car.) Coach may or may not have asked me to re-phrase. 

People, I'm here to tell you . . . dreams do come true. 

See, easy to spot. Easy for Mini to find
 us. Also, a great way to make friends. I gave
one man a beer for attempting the Gumby
theme song. People stopped to take
photos. Not gonna lie, pretty proud of
making my own fun while tailgating at a
 previously 'off-limits' place. My SIL kept
 saying, "I'M GUMBY, DAMN IT."
Anyone else remember the Gumby skits on SNL?
The back of his shirt says GUMBY.
I didn't really need Coach's help. My friend with the lake house gave me a pool raft that they were done with, which made Gumby erect. *couldn't resist. 

Another friend lent me her kitchen step stool. Wedging that between his legs (now I'm  getting carried away) was the trick to give him balance. 

I bought a 3x gray t-shirt at Goodwill, plus fabric paint. The day before my first tailgate with a kid at Notre Dame I prepped food, then painted Gumby's game-day shirt. Then I folded him in half and wedged him into the back of my minivan. 

My SIL:  (upon arrival to my house EARLY Sat morning) Oh, am I driving separately? 

*she didn't believe we had space for the two of them. Silliness. We're just a little tight, that's all. 

Words I never thought I'd say:  I hope all of the food fits, because at this point Gumby is non-negotiable. 


Conflict #2 will be shared in my next post. Hit me with your fav tailgate recipes, the ND game the 15th is in the evening. Chili? Might be hard to keep warm. The one the 8th is earlier - breakfast type stuff? Open to suggestions. Do you sometimes think outside the box and do weird stuff that makes your spouse/friends think you are nuts?