November 30, 2022

who needs TV when my folks are this entertaining?

See that white part?
That's where the quilt
 ripped. Some of the squares
 needed attention too.

I recently cleaned the kids' bedroom quilts. Mini's quilt partially fell apart in the process. Honestly, the girls' quilts are so old that they were threadbare in places. The boys' quilts aren't in great shape either, but for the most part theirs just have the edging falling off.

What to do? The quilts match the girls' room SO WELL. I'm the first to admit that the room is a tad juvenile for them. They still sleep in a doll house bunkbed- something my sister, Ann, sneered about a few months ago, but hey - the girls aren't complaining. I decided it was silly to buy new quilts in the same pastel colors and tough to choose new quilts until a new color scheme is selected. So, I decided to repair this one in places where it was really falling apart. I'm hoping the twin version that is on the top bunk, a bunk that isn't used when Mini is away at school, isn't going to need to be repaired. 

*editing to add - I just washed the twin one and it is in near perfect condition. It doesn't really see the light of day being up in the doll house part of the bunk. Also, no one really sits on that bed as it isn't as accessible. Plus, the lower bunk belonged to Mini, nuf said? 

I had some of this
 flowered fabric. It wasn't
an exact match, but not sure
 anyone is going to care. 

My quilt patching project was spread out on the family room floor one night. While I rarely watch TV, I decided to put something on that I didn't have to pay compete attention to. I remember women from my book club saying that they enjoyed Derry Girls. Reg found it for me, and I watched several entertaining episodes while I sewed. 

The next day was Coach's birthday. He had to work late. I made one of our favorite dinners, which takes hours - in part because I'm programmed to feed an army. The recipe is typed up the way I usually make it. I like leftovers, so I made my usual mountain of it. It was exhausting. 

It doesn't look so bad.
Later, I picked up my mom and took her to Curly's basketball game. When I dropped Mom back off at home, I delivered some of the dinner to my dad. It isn't that I didn't want to feed my mom. She would never eat peppers or onions or beans or tomatoes, so this dinner was not her thing. 

I went inside and explained the meal to Dad. He'd be heating it up the next night, since he'd already eaten. Technically, Mom would probably be heating it up for him, but she wouldn't remember my instructions anyway. 

Me:  This is Cuban Sheet Pan Chicken and Black Bean Rice Bowls. You can add the amount of black beans, tomatoes, corn, and avocado you want. (I brought all of the add-ins in separate containers from the chicken, veggies, and rice.) Get ready, this meal is gonna change your life. 

Delish. Before all the components
are mixed together. 

This made him chuckle, because he is 82 after all. Dad is a more adventurous eater than my mother. Well, let me rephrase that EVERYONE is a more adventurous eater than my mother. In my folks' traditional home, my dad has never made a meal - at least not that I'm aware of. I'm not 100% sure he can make his own sandwich.  

While I was 'splaining the meal, they were fumbling around trying to turn down the TV. They were unsuccessful, but I just talked loud. I asked them what they were watching. It's a show they really like called FBI. 

Mom had told me earlier that they'd gone to the Catholic high school that three of my nephews attend for grandparents' day. On the way home, Ann wanted them to come to her place to watch a movie on her day off. Mom wasn't interested, so Dad dropped her at home and then he went to Ann's to watch this movie. 

Me:  as they told me about how much they enjoy this FBI show I chimed in with: I watched a show last  night. One that I'd never seen. It was called Derry Girls.

I hadn't quite uttered the entire title of the show when Dad shouted: I SAW THAT TODAY. 

Me:  Um, I don't think so, Dad. This wasn't a movie. It's just a show. It's on TV.

Dad:  Huh? No. I saw that movie.

Me:  This was kind of old. What movie did you watch? 

Mixing up the goodness. Yum.

Dad:  No, that was it. What season did you watch?

Me:  Oh, wait. Maybe you did see Derry Girls. I watched season 1.

Dad:  Yep, me too. Did you see the part when they think the statue of Mary is crying? But it's cuz the dog peed on it? (howls with laughter).

Me:  Yes, I did see that same episode. 

What are the chances that my dad and I watched the same older season series within 24 hours of each other? 

The next day when I talked to Mom, I asked her how Dad liked the dinner. 

Mom:  Yeah. He liked it. I tried and I tried to squeeze that thing that you brought over. I couldn't get anything to come out of it. 

Me:  Wait, what? There was nothing to squeeze. Um, the avocado?

Mom:  Yeah, is that the green thing?

Well, there you have it. A few years ago when my mom watched me make my salad, she asked me what the avocado was. I think it's somewhat remarkable that I eat the foods that I eat, and if anyone is handing out gold stars for overcoming this family trait - I will take one. Friends in college used to sit around the table in the dining hall and ask me if I'd ever eaten _____. Things like cottage cheese, peppers, most fresh fruits, tacos, sour cream all were on my never-eaten list. 

If you've learned nothing else today, you now know that I do not exaggerate when I say that Mom is very limited in what she will eat. Needless to say, I got a good chuckle out of my mom trying to squeeze the avocado into Dad's dinner. 

Are there foods that you've never tried, or foods you were shielded from as a child and only discovered in adulthood? Have you seen Derry Girls?  Have you ever squeezed an avocado, or been confused how to prepare/eat some other food?

November 28, 2022

updates: my riddle explained, GW, the history of our mess, a new meal, etc.

Great news:  Curly did NOT get sick. In fact, no one got the 'plague' from Mini. Phew. 

"Just remember that you love me":  (this was my riddle, but that post was so long ago, you might not remember) I said this to Coach when we were on a walk. This was a week or two ago when the weather here was still freakishly summer-like. Then it became Januray, like overnight. Ugh.

Anyway, I reminded him of this before revealing that I've been looking online at cute little houses in South Bend, near Notre Dame. I'm in a FB group for parents and sometimes another parent will let everyone know the availability of their rental property. 

How great would that be? Imagine, we could stay there whenever we wanted. Walk to our own tailgate. Attempt to rent it out the majority of the time. Come graduation, we'd have a place to stay. When I want to visit Mini, I'd be all set. 

Ed's college is in Bloomington, IN and he pays $800/month. The place is a dump. There are 5 of them living there. The landlord is rolling in dough. I told Coach we ought to buy a house there. He said that would be a headache, and he's probably right. 

I'm sure you will be shocked to know that Coach still thinks I'm crazy loves me after all these years. I enjoy looking at houses online from time to time. 

No hostages were taken here:  Remember back when we were trying to figure out if we should buy a newish van to replace good ole GW? (Great White). I suggested we just pay to fix it, because buying cars are so pricey. Well, everyone poo-poo'd my idea . . . until suddenly it made sense. 

Lad's dealership uses a repair place around the corner to fix cars that they don't have time for, etc. Lad hooked us up with them over the summer. It was expensive, but not as expensive as initially thought. I think it was $3,000 and our mechanic had guessed around $5K. Look at that. A bargain to spend on a van with like 150K miles on it.  

We got a bit of a discount if we paid in cash, so I went to the bank and withdrew 3,000 big ones. I was careful not to twitch my face or use any sideways glances lest the teller think I'd been kidnapped and had come into the bank under duress to withdraw this large sum out of fear for my life. Someone watches too much TV. 

Well, I don't watch too much TV currently, but over the course of my life I've seen a show or two. 

Speaking of TV. There's a new documentary out about ADHD. It's called Disruptors. We bought it, because I want Tank and Lad to be able to watch it at some point, if  interested. It was very good. Our boys didn't have the hyperactivity component. They sure had impulse control issues, well mostly Lad.

One day when he was about 12, Lad caught a bird. Like a real live bird. No idea how. He took the screen off of a window in the girls' room to make a cage for it. The same day Reg (who was just little at the time, so behaving like a 4 year old) crawled out into the attic from a tiny, hidden door in my walk in closet. He found pool toys and brought them into the house. He and Tank (I think) filled the noodle water-shooters with water and started a water fight in the upstairs. It was someone's birthday, so my sister Marie called and whoever answered put the phone down to come get me, but then never came back. She said it sounded like a circus. Well, not far off. 

Did you know that Coach worked late A LOT? To say that I was outnumbered is an understatement. Coach worked until 9 pm or later three nights a week. The kids also liked to pull mattresses off of beds and pull them into one bedroom. It was their early version of a trampoline room. When we moved here the living room had horrid vertical blinds. The kids figured out that if they yanked a blind off of the window it made a great road for their matchbox cars. They'd drag furniture around and create little hills and loops, then send their cars down them. 

I've decided this is why my kids are OK living in a messy house. I couldn't keep up with the messes they made. We just lived with stuff EVERYWHERE. Let's not talk about the giant bullfrog that got loose in the basement once. I refused to go down there to get a gallon of milk from the fridge until he was found.

If only I could whisper in my younger self's ear:  STICK A FRIDGE IN THE CORNER OF THE DINING ROOM. It would've solved so many problems. 

One pot spaghetti

All that to say, I made a chore schedule and hung it on the fridge. Coach's name is included along with Lad, Curly, and Reg. I almost fell over Wednesday when Coach started dusting the light fixtures in the kitchen without warning. We weren't having a party. 

Not everyone is staying on top of their assigned duties, but there's progress.

I made a great new meal a few weeks ago. This was the Sunday before Coach's birthday, when we could actually celebrate since he was working late on the 15th. My gluten-eaters are very excited about it. Tank caught wind and wants me to make this one-pot spaghetti meal when he's home. 


Kids:  don't try this at home.
Not a GF compatible recipe.
He tried to say I was expecting too much. How could he leave home and have his at-home possessions ordered? Um, Ed manages. 

Here is the link to the dinner that I made. Sadly, I tried to make it GF for me and it turned into a congealed GF pasta clump with almost no flavor. I laughed out loud as I tried to eat it. It was THAT bad.

I'm avoiding red meat at the moment, so I made it with ground turkey vs ground Italian sausage, which didn't help its cause. 

More soon on other updates like pinkies, medical bills, cholesterol, etc. Gosh, this sounds exciting. 

What dinner have you made that turned out super gross because of your own substitutions?  Have you put off buying a car during this crappy-time-to-buy-a-car?

November 23, 2022

BRIEFLY pre-turkey day update: a germ sharing fiasco

I had a post ready for today, but realizing that many of you might be stuffing your birds and baking your pies, I switched gears with a very brief update. Not my strong suit, but I'm gonna try. 

Mini had classes Monday and Tuesday. With MANY students from our area heading home from South Bend for Thanksgiving, I told her to try to sort something out. I had to babysat Tuesday. 

Mini:  Dad can't take the day off?

Someone must've been crowned a princess since she left home. Um, have you met your father? Days off are about as common as people hoisting Gumby atop their cars at tailgates. 


Mini went back to her room Saturday before halftime of the ND game. She was INSANELY cold. Thought she'd never be warm again. A few hours later:  chills. Sunday morning:  miserable. Sore throat. Congestion. Fever. Some terrible virus was going around the school. 

I hadn't slept much Sat night and feared I'd be too tired to drive and get her, but she was in no shape for her M/Tu classes. 

Honestly, I was an emotional wreck Sunday. It's Lad. Coach and I are beside ourselves with worry. Over the weekend we'd sat him down. Shared our concerns. 

In Coach's words:  Well, that could not have gone worse. 

Everything is basically fine. He's living here. He's upset with us. It's unpleasant. Beyond that - I vote for tough love. Let him move out. Hit rock bottom. Seek help. Coach worries he'll harm himself. He hasn't given us any indication that he'd do this, but one never knows. How would we live with ourselves? 


(In my mind, I'm saying:  BRIEF, BRIEF,  . . . I'm trying)

Anyway, no one wanted Mini to bring her germs home. Then my sister, Marie, texted:  I can bring Mini home when I pick up 'cousin.' 

I called Mini:  You'll need to lay low at school and wait till Tuesday when Aunt Marie can bring you home. 

Mini threw up a few times due to
 coughing. Have you heard
 of this? The ER people
 recommended it. I was
 glad to have it on hand.
My mind was muddled and I wasn't sure I was thinking straight. Mini sobbed. Then I sobbed after I'd just stopped sobbing about Lad.

Me (to Coach):  I'm going to get her. 

Coach:  You're being irrational. 

I agreed, but I was powerless to my emotions and I needed something to feel right. Leaving her in a dorm felt awful. I swapped my contact lenses for glasses and drove with puffy eyes. Mini sat in the back of the minivan. Both of us masked. 

Curly moved out of their room and slept in Tank's vacant bed (he was due home Tuesday). We ordered Mini to stay in her room and barred the other kids from using that bathroom. 

Will it surprise anyone that Mini
couldn't find a kleenex box behind
 the laundry room door? There
 were 5 boxes on top of this stack,
 but I brought them to the first floor
 to replenish. How does one
 miss that? Maybe the fever
 is impacting her vision.
Ed cooked an amazing dinner Monday. Curly had a small plate before her game. She planned to have more afterwards, so she left her plate out. *this is a thing here, if you're having more in a bit - set your plate aside* We all went to her game. Ed brought a plate up to the patient before we left. 

After the game, Ed and I drove to the grocery store. He'd done all of my shopping on Sunday, then went back Monday when he decided to cook. No one had noticed how low we were on fruit. Ed came home Thursday night - he eats a lot of fruit. I ran in and bought fruit. 

Curly had 4 tests the next day, so Coach wisked her home in his car to study. When I got home, she was eating more dinner. Her plate, that I'd told her to put in front of Violet's picture on the island was still there. A minute later we put two and two together. Coach had grabbed a plate next to the kitchen sink, believing it was Curly's. 


Fingers crossed this worked.

Curly sobbed after realizing she'd eaten a plate full of food mixed with Mini's leftover bits of rice and veggies. The HORROR. Curly sobbed. We had her drink a packet of Emergen-C. 

Not as brief as I'd envisioned, sorry. Mini's still a mess. She could NOT have gotten into Marie's car Tuesday. Can you imagine? 

Did the microwave kill off any germs? Thankfully, the retired Curly doesn't Irish dance this weekend. 

Hope you have a wonderful, non-germy Thanksgiving, or regular weekend if you aren't from the States . . . if you've learned nothing else here, remember to keep track of your plate.

Thankful for all of you. 

November 21, 2022

brain malfunctions, water pik, ban head tilts, & $268 huh?

This is what I was doing the day after my ER visit.
Maybe I was disoriented after enjoying a 74 degree
 day in November at the zoo. It could happen. 
This bear is swimming underwater
chasing a fish they let loose in there. 

I've gathered you all here to share the two additional things that I did the week when my brain left the building. 

I had a dentist appointment Wednesday afternoon. *remember, I visited the ER Monday morning, and I do feel like my illness messed with my schedule*

 I knew I had said dentist appointment. Did I refer to my calendar or the text reminders to double check the time for the appointment? I did not. I believed that the appointment was at 3:15. I relied on my brain. Clearly a mistake.

The office called me as I was driving there, I was like WHOA, CHILL OUT PEOPLE. I'M ON MY WAY. SETTLE YOURSELVES. Um, that's when they told me my appointment was for 3:00 and I was, in fact, late. I apologized profusely. 

I dislike the new hygienist. The former hygienist was amazing and everyone in our family misses her terribly. I'm sure this woman is good at what she does, but she is not gentle. 

She poked my gum REPEATEDLY, made it bleed, and then asked me how long that spot had been bothering me. 

Me:  (what I wanted to say while wincing from the sudden stabbing pain in my gum) UM, WELL - I GUESS ABOUT TEN SECONDS. EVER SINCE YOU ATTACKED ME WITH THAT INSTRUMENT.

She convinced me during my last visit to purchase a water pic. I bought one. I hate it. Only used it once. I told her so on my recent visit and she urged me to give it another try. Someone should take me out for ice cream or something, because I HAVE been using the dreaded water pik regularly ever since. 

As much as I don't care for this woman and her tiny attack instruments, I did feel terrible for being late and for messing up her schedule. I told her so. I used to babysit for the dentist's kids when I was 12, and he is wonderful. I apologized to him too when he came in to take a peek at my bloodied teeth. 

When I left the dentist, I decided to drive a bit further to my gastroenterologist's office. They had a celiac panel script for me. Silly me, I thought since it was the year 2022 they could email me the script, but not the case. 

Blood work script in hand, I decided to just get my blood drawn on my way home. I had nothing else going on that evening. I was all about strike while the iron is hot, or in this case while the possible gluten would register in my blood. 

It was Coach's birthday Tuesday and
 Lad put a sing on him for a bit: 
 I wouldn't call Coach his
 master, but still cute. 
I was charged $268 to get my blood drawn. This ticked me off, almost as much as the fact that it took them nearly 25 minutes to register me at the hospital to do the blood work. What on earth? Otherwise there was no wait. Good grief, I'm not having surgery. My doctor's office couldn't draw my blood that day, I'd already called to check and the hospital was on my way home. 

I got home at 5:15 pm, looked at Reg, and my brain clicked into the 'on' position. 


Despite the fact that Reg is a good looking kid, the photographers that come to school to take yearbook photos have failed MISERABLY to take a halfway decent photo of him EVERY.YEAR.

On Tuesday, (the day before), I had called the company. 


The woman laughed, apparently thinking  my head-tilt question was a rhetorical question when in fact I really wanted to know. She was very nice though and said we could come to the studio in a nearby town for a retake. I scheduled it for 5:00 on Wednesday and then TOTALLY FORGOT TO GO. 

The photo place is REALLY hard to get in touch with, but I called repeatedly on Wednesday and ended up rescheduling for that night. 


Isn't this cute and clever?
A kid had this in her lunch
at my house one day
 before Halloween. Not as
 cute as Reg's new photo.
You'll have to take
my word for it.
The new round of pictures turned out great. They accidentally posted the photo of him holding the dry erase board with his name on it, without his face shown - like the one for their records, instead of the photos of his face. I had to call several more times to get them to post the actual pictures of him. The kind woman, Debbie, was trying to figure out why they wouldn't post and she admitted to me that the two sets of pictures didn't even look like the same kid. EXACTLY. 

It makes one wonder, will we always have school picture drama moving forward?  Although it was very entertaining to watch the JC Penny lady drag 6 foot Mini across the floor by her ankles in May, I'm relieved that I didn't end up there with Reg.

I have some updates for you on various fronts, like the blood work $268 charge. Coaches (not my Coach). My daycare this year:  the good, the bad, & my patience called and wants to suggest a new career path. A little Irish dancing news. I've also seen a funny show, that's new to me. How are my pinkies? I'm glad you asked. I won't get to all of this in my next post, but get excited . . . it's coming. 

Do you use a water pik? Love it or hate it?

Oh, I recently reminded Coach before I told him something I was contemplating:  JUST REMEMBER THAT YOU LOVE ME. Any guesses on what I was mulling over? 

November 16, 2022

regrets & what to do now that my time IS my own? Plus a sweater dilemma

I had an epiphany yesterday while I was drafting my previous Debbie Downer post. 

Regrets:  I've had a few regrets lately. 

For example, I offered to take Reg and a buddy to Notre Dame to see the Clemson game on November 5th. Coach was teaching in Florida and basketball season hadn't started yet. I could get away fairly easily. Curly could get a ride to her b-ball practice. We wouldn't be spending the night. 

The weather in South Bend looked kind of gross. Rain. Such high winds that they outlawed canopies in the tailgate lots. I wouldn't have bothered to get myself a ticket for the game, happy to wait somewhere warm and dry while the game was happening. I would NOT be hosting my own tailgate, but we could visit the tailgates of other friends. My sister Marie was hosting a tailgate, too. 

Reg decided that he didn't really want to be gone all day. Is he 85 years old, or 16? He didn't have anything else going on other than his daily quest to workout/shoot hoops, but he also noted the crappy weather. 

Mini, the masked ND fan on the left,
and her cousin who was in town for
the game. They bumped into each other
 on the field along with thousands of
 other fans. Mini's face is one of surprise
 and it's super cute, but you'll
have to take my word for it.
I considered going on my own. I could park across the street at my college, Saint Mary's. I'd bring my own food in a small backpack and my car would be in a great place to exit after the game. After our tailgate at ND, it took us over an hour to get back to our hotel that was a 5 minute drive from the stadium. 

I decided not to go. Mini was probably not gonna want a shadow all day. Plus high winds? Rain? 

I went to see my godson in a play Saturday night. Reg watched the game at his buddy's house. He texted me during the play:  I CAN'T BELIEVE WE AREN'T AT THIS GAME. IT'S CRAZY EXCITING.


I got home from the play in time to see ND fans rush the field on TV. Mini posted on her story a video from her vantage point while she was on the field after the game. Her hand is patting the top of one of the football player's helmets. So fun.

Reg got over the WHY DIDN'T WE GO faster than I did. I was glum the next day. I felt so bad that I hadn't pushed Reg to go. How silly is that?

My theory:  I'm slightly unaccustomed to choosing my own path. It has been years since I had so many options. My kids activities and schedules have dictated where I go and what I do FOR YEARS. With three in college and one grown but not quite flown, I have only two high school kids at home. 

I could've gone with Coach to Florida when he was teaching, but decided not to because the flights were pricey. Plus, it's hard to leave two teens home, one who's epileptic and not currently unable to drive. We've left them alone three weekends this fall. Why push it? Why ask for more favors? 

I love the social side of tailgating. I attribute my 'where to go, here or there?', 'what to do, this or that?' issues with life's natural slowing down. Tailgate season was insanely busy but SO  MUCH FUN, but I believe I'm going through a little tailgate withdrawal. 

I miss the hectic pace of life with all of the kids home following different schedules directing us in various directions, all while constant banter and joking provide a lovely source of entertainment. Life is good, of course. It's different though.

I may end up printing this post out in a 

few weeks so that I can eat my words. 

I bought this sweater
over the weekend.
 Here I'm trying it on for Curly.
She almost died
from laughter. I texted this
to Mini, she responded:
 "It looks like the sweater is
 wearing you instead of you
wearing the sweater."
 It was 50% off, but
still pricey, so I'm
 leaning towards returning
it. Pardon the
 bowling-like shoes,
 I swapped out this
 sweater with the one
 I'd been wearing
for the picture. Not sure I can be
swayed, by I'm interested
 in your feedback.
I thought it was a
nice splash of color
 although I'm not usually
 a leopard print type.
This is not a regret YET,
because I can still return it. 
Note:  Finn's raccoon
 toy is in the background,
but knowing our people it could
 just as easily have been a sock.
Once Reg and Curly start high school basketball season, life will get a little busy. They will both be on varsity. Often the boys play at home when the girls are away, and vice versa. There is only one of me. Coach and I might split up in order to have one parent at each game, but he works late Tuesdays and there are a lot of Tuesday games. It's gonna be tough, because they will both be starters.  

November 1st brain shutdown:  After I was sick on Halloween, I told Coach THANK GOODNESS THIS HAPPENED WHEN NOTHING WAS HAPPENING

We weren't in a hotel getting ready to tell people FIGHT ME for a parking spot, etc. I didn't even have to cancel many babysitting families because it was Halloween and a grandma wanted her grandkids with her and the twins were sick. 

I took the troops to the zoo on Wednesday, 11/2nd. We had a wonderfully fun, beautiful day. I got home, and checked my email. I got a message from a woman in my college book club. 



*** my brain made a loud clicking noise as it suddenly got in gear***

We met for book club on Thursday Oct. 26th. We talked about Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder - BTW most of us strongly disliked this book, in case you think it looks good. You might like it. Me, BLAH.

Anyway, we had an upcoming event planned on Tuesday, November 1st. We were eating at a local restaurant to celebrate our college's founder's day. I blame my trip to the ER for my disorientation. I SIMPLY FORGOT TO ATTEND. I could've gone. I had RSVP'd. I was home sorting laundry. 

I don't get out all that much, so I ALWAYS look forward to these gatherings. I cried a little. OK, more than a little. I was SO annoyed with myself and with my gut for distracting me. 

I messed up two other scheduled things that week. More on that later. This one was the most upsetting. 

I've decided that it is also a little harder to track what I have going on simply because there is less going on. Does that make sense? One would think it is the opposite, but my brain seems to be less aware of the schedule as the schedule becomes less demanding. 

Regret anything lately? 

Miss out on an event because you plumb forgot to go?

Sweater thoughts welcome. 

November 14, 2022

restless, or reality, or whatever

I'm feeling restless. I can't pinpoint why in my head. I'm hoping that writing it out might help me feel more 'together' or 'gathered.'

I cleaned out a storage room in the
 basement recently.
Hoping cleaning up spaces
 will help me gradually
feel more ordered.
 This artwork is by Curly.
It's an Irish dancer,
 who apparently has no
bones in her legs.
Not invincible:  I'm getting closer to the age of people who are passing away. It no longer feels like I can say "Oh, that's too bad," while feeling like the person who just passed away is so much older than me. 

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not invincible, but I'm feeling more 'aware' of the circle of life lately. Add to that my trip to the ER a few weeks ago and my ongoing fear that the docs are missing something. 

Exhibit A:  In November 2019, Mini and I attended a literary event at my college. I bumped into my former English professor. I wasn't an English major, but I took a required English class. 

I was a business major, which is silly because I have no interest in anything pertaining to business unless you count Superbowl commercials

I was impressionable when I chose my major. I wanted to be a teacher, but a mom I babysat for, who had a big influence on me, advised me against that. She said I'd never meet a husband. My father told me I could sell ice to Eskimos. He thought I should go into business, but he really wanted me to be a nurse. Does it sound like I was raised in the 50s here? What on earth?

* Let's all imagine me instructing patients on how to start their own IV while I look away. Business major it was. 

Do you ever stop and think about the people or moments that have influenced you one way or another, and how things could've turned out differently? I mean, I do enjoy my job at times, and I'm thrilled that I stayed home with my kids, but I babysit. I'm a babysitter. (When I wanna be fancy, I say that I'm a small business owner, because I do all the communication with clients, book keeping, and marketing). Don't get me wrong, I'm good at babysitting. Do what you know, and all the rest, but when people say it doesn't really matter what you major in, well - I sort of cringe. 

In addition to choosing the wrong maor, I wasn't the most motivated and my parents weren't all that great at steering me or championing my talents, beyond the eskimo remark. They were of the mindset that I'd get married and have a family. See, 1950s. I was very happy to get married and have a family, but I do wish I'd chosen to study something that could've lead to more of a career. 

When my kids have friends over while I'm babysitting, I say:  HEY, STAY IN SCHOOL. Translation:  figure out what you want to do WHILE in school. I think nowadays with online classes, it might be easier to switch gears after graduation. Every once in a while I consider going back to get my MFA (masters in fine arts) to teach writing at a community college. Not sure if that makes any sense at this stage of the game. Would I retire a few years after I started? 

Anyway, when I ran into my old prof, I forgot that I had a nametag on. As I introduced myself to him, he sort of waved away my 'remember me' thing.

Prof:  I know who you are. I remember you.

Me:  Oh, you do?

Prof:  Yes, you were a good writer.

Well, you could've blown me over. Such a compliment all these years later. Maybe he says that to all his former students, but since this is my blog and I'm trying to feel less 'lost' we'll pretend that he DID remember me and that he DID like my writing.

With Mini at Notre Dame, I decided to reach out to Prof in hopes that he might want to meet for coffee when I was in town to tailgate, etc. I wanted to share my writing goals with him and a link to my published story from earlier this year, and ask if he had any suggestions or guidance for me.  

I emailed him before we tailgated at ND, but never heard back. Finally last week, I called the college and they put me through to the alumnae office. 

Me:  Hi. I'm trying to get in touch with Prof. I emailed him a few weeks ago, but I haven't heard back. I wonder if I have an old email or if he's retired or something. Do you have another way for me to get in touch with him?

Woman:  Oh, I'm so sorry. Prof died suddenly in July or August. 

I was stunned. Saddened. I wished I'd reached out sooner. I was hoping for guidance from him, but I also know that he was a good guy and I feel like I missed getting to know him better. Besides the fact that it sounds fun and grown up to get in touch with a former professor and reconnect, I'm sad that he's gone. I don't know how old he was, but he was not elderly by any stretch. 

Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer. It's not my normal mode, but sheesh. Additionally a man in our neighborhood passed away last week. He was 66 and apparently had a short battle with cancer. Ed played basketball with his son in high school. Coach and I used to sit and chat with he and his wife during games. 

Aging parents:  This might be the last few years that my folks will be with us to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Look at that, the holidays are making me feel heavy and I haven't even eaten a big meal yet. I've been blessed to have my parents for as long as I have and while my family dynamics make me nutty, it's hard to imagine life without them. 

Unwittingly enabling:  Coach and I need to address the Lad situation. He's doing fine, so much better than 2020. At the same time, he needs that push to get help. He's working, functioning to a degree, but he's crippled by the things he refuses to address. I feel like we are unwittingly enabling him. He's sort of stuck and I hate to see him miss out on all of the fun and adventures available to young 20-somethings. 

Unrelated, but more fun than a photo
of me feeling down in the dumps . . .
I found this in an old notebook.
Check out the note at the bottom.
Guessing this was Ed, but not sure. 
We need to draw up a contract, to insist on things. We fear pushing him. The way we live isn't relaxing. I mean even without getting into lots of detail - there is a dog in my house. That may not alarm those of you who are dog owners, but WE ARE NOT DOG OWNERS. Finn's been here for almost a year and a half. This doesn't feel temporary. Add exotic frogs to the mix, if you can imagine - and you have a small glimpse into my world. 

Ed has urged Lad to get help after Lad revealed to him how he's been feeling, but Ed's a senior in college and it feels like a lot to burden him with. So, we push onward. Hoping to find a way, and hoping that that way doesn't backfire.

More soon on my other theory as to why I might be a little unsettled at the moment. It rhymes with pailgate mythdrawl, which translates into a-not-quite-empty-nest issue. 

November 9, 2022

Tailgating heroics: BACKING UP, *ITCHES

I'm not gonna lie, I slept like crap in the hotel in South Bend. Not sure if the room was too warm, or my gut wasn't 'just right', or what. The kids crept in from a bar at like 1:00 am and I didn't go back to sleep until around 5:00 am. My alarm was set for 6:15 am, which should've been plenty of sleep had I actually been able to sleep. 

Me sitting in my car. Waiting.
Grateful:  I ended up feeling fine all day. I was working off of VERY little sleep, but unlike the days when I never go back to sleep - squeaking out another hour or hour and a half just before 'go' time was apparently all I needed. 

GO TIME:  Coach and I loaded the three cardboard boxes with the hot crockpots full of chili onto the luggage cart we'd kept in our room overnight. After we loaded the chili in the car, I drove off and Coach went back inside and worked out/ate breakfast, not wanting to disturb the sleeping 20-somethings.

The chili was amazing and it stayed hot
 all day long. Granted I was a crockpot nazi
and made people line up and be ready to
 be served at the same time vs leaving
the crockpot lid open for too long.  
I got in line for the parking lot at 6:43 am under the cover of darkness. I'm humming:  SO YOU THINK I'M CRAZ-ZZEE, because I assume you all think I'm crazy. 

The lot wasn't going to open until 8 am, so I popped open my laptop. Occasionally I noticed people walking around carrying those chairs in a bag. Hmm. 

A few minutes to 8:00 the attendant scanned tickets. It was time to find a good  spot. I was like the 10th car in line, so I wasn't worried. I followed the car in front of me into the lot. He backed into a spot with a sidewalk and grass and I thought - great idea. I backed into a spot near him and got out of my car.

Me:  Why am I so far away from the stadium? I should be closer.

You know how parking lots have cement dividers between sections? Well, I noticed that cars were pulling into a closer section. What now?

Blind leading the blind Me following a guy:  The guy ahead of me must've preferred this section. I'd followed him thinking this was as close as we could get. I hesitated for a moment, afraid to give up my spot by sidewalk/grass. 

Me: you didn't wait in line this early to not get a GREAT spot. 

After checking to be sure there were still spots, I hopped in my car and drove around the cement divider to the other/closer section.

My adrenaline was pumping. I wanted to park in the same ideal 'back-in' place that butted up to a sidewalk and a strip of grass which gave the tailgate much more space than an average all-cement spot. There were about 5 spots left in the strip, but two ladies were sitting on folding chairs SAVING THE SPOTS. 

Gumby proudly overseeing
 our tailgate set up.
Three tables for food.
OH NO YOU DON'T:  In all of my tailgate planning, you know what I did in addition to food prep and Gumby amuptee repair? I read the RULES, that's what. Saving spots is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. 

I positioned my car one spot over from a car that was parked, because I really didn't want to back into a spot while shaking with adrenaline directly next to another car. 

I was in the minivan (let's all stop and imagine the Great White in this scenario, who would dare to mess with GW?). I have a back up camera in the minivan, so I could see Fool #1 in her chair as I backed up TOWARDS HER.

She hopped up and waved her hands at me. Her partner in crime, Fool #2 a few spots over sitting on her folding chair began to wave and shout at me. 


I felt like the Little Red Hen. Were you in line in your vehicle at 6:43 am? No, I think not. Then you will not eat my bread keep these spots. 


They gasped and hollered back at me:  WE'RE NOT MOVING FROM THESE SPOTS. 

*In case you aren't grasping the situation - they probably had friends in cars at the back of the line. They walked up with their folding chairs in order to grab these awesome spots. Is this fair? Nope. Is this how it works? Nope, certainly not. 

Fool #1 behind me started to move her chair as I proceeded to back up. Fool #2 hollered at her:  NO! DON'T MOVE FROM THAT SPOT! SHE CAN'T DO THAT!

Can't I? 

I saw a couple of people in neon vests and gathered that they were security. I waved to them and called out THEY'RE BREAKING THE RULES, but I think they were students and they didn't want to get involved. I continued to back up. Fool #1's knees were in full view on my back up camera.

On our walk back to
campus, we stopped
at the Grotto. I lit a
candle for sweet
 Violet. It was Oct. 15th.
It would've
 been Violet's 4th birthday.
She passed away
 in Feb after a
 4 month battle
with brain cancer.
I babysat for her dad when
 I was a young teenage girl.
Finally, I decided to take the spot directly next to the car that was already there. This was a spot that the Fools were saving, but clearly they cared more that I not take a spot in the middle of their 5 spots because then they couldn't have all their besties in one row. Giving up a spot on the perimeter was less of a blow. Imagine the nerve of people to attempt to save 5 spots. F.I.V.E. Come on now? 

I pulled forward and backed up directly next to the other car and was therefore on the outskirts of the Fools'. I sat in the car for a few minutes after I'd parked and gathered myself. 

HEY NIEGHBOR:  These people were going to be our tailgating neighbors for the entire day. Soon enough Gumby himself would be propped up onto the top of my car. These people would be able to identify me. 

Did that deter me? No. Not in the least. 

I heard someone ask the people how their son liked the school, so I'm guessing they have a freshman too. I was hoping they had a senior and this was their swan song. 

While they'll know me by my Gumby, I couldn't pick them up out of a lineup. Now, if I'd maimed one of them while backing up - then I'd know them by their limping. 


I did note their NEW YORK plates.

I wanted to say:  NEW YORK CALLED, THEY WANT THEIR ASS HOLES BACK. If you recall Tank's reaction to people stealing our food at the last tailgate, imagine how he wanted to have words with Fools #1 and #2. I told him I couldn't positively ID them, and then I said:  "Have another beer, Tank."

I got out of the car and took photos of my whereabouts. I texted all of the people who planned to join us, so that they could find us later before cell service with attached photos got dicey.  

It was a
 chilly and VERY windy day.
The wind died

 down in the late afternoon, thankfully.
It was a good day to eat chili. We had a
 ton of visitors. Remember, Tank
 and his 4 buddies were at this
 game. Two nephews from
 Coach's side came in town. I think
 they think I'm the crazy aunt and thus
 enjoyed my backing up bitches
 story thoroughly.
My sister, Marie, had texted me mid week and asked if she and her family could come to our tailgate. Is this the same sister who failed to say a peep about tailgating invites at the start of the season? She was taking a break from hosting a tailgate. In the words of Jimmy Stewart in 'It's A Wonderful Life':  this is a very interesting situation. 

I'm kidding, of course I told them they were welcome to join us. When Marie got the text showing our position she texted back:  YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO TELL ME HOW YOU GOT SUCH AN AMAZING SPOT. Sure Sis, but you gotta be a little aggressive.

We won't talk about how the game
 ended. Fortunately, I care
 little about the actual football game.
I jogged the almost 3 miles back to the hotel so I could shower and walk back to campus later - this was a night game after all. When my people were all awake, I re-enacted the BACKING UP, BITCHES scene to my adoring family members who cheered wildly in support of my heroic efforts. Even Coach, who isn't usually in favor of causing a scene, said:  I FULLY SUPPORT WHAT YOU DID.

I get that these people were trying to get away with something, but once you've been called out - don't you apologize and back down? (before you get backed over) Seriously. 

Anyone tried to break the rules on your watch? All in favor of me fitting Gumby with a prosthetic hand so that he can give bad behaving neighbors the bird in the future, say HEY.

November 7, 2022

My happy place BAKING, COOKING, & PLANNING despite Finn's issue (don't mess with my plan)

The week between the tailgates I left
Gumby in the car, safe from Jaws
aka Finn. Every time I looked in my
rearview mirror, I spotted him
 lounging in the backseat.

Flashing back to mid October:  I spent the week after the tailgate at IU prepping for the next tailgate at ND. I made grocery lists, rolled up my sleeves, and cooked and baked myself silly. The chili endeavor was exhausting:  three large crockpots full, which was about 10 pounds of meat to give you an idea. Once it was done, I juggled stuff in the fridge to make room. 

I was also babysitting and getting the house ready to host four of Tank's friends. Let's be clear, my house cannot be whipped into shape for overnight guests very quickly. Heck, I'm not pleased that we are overnight guests in our own home half the time, but that's life. I knew these college boys wouldn't be in specific areas of the house. We focused our efforts on the visitor friendly spaces. 

Chili making in bulk. Pumpkin bread,
6 loaves, cooling in the background
The big boy room. The bathrooms. The basement. The kitchen and family room.

The kitchen was a mess all week with all the food making, but I did my best. Coach put sheets on the spare beds in Tank's room and cleaned the upstairs kids' bathroom - a room I try my best not to enter. Remember Tank was home this week, so he cleaned the kids' shower. "Well, it's better than our dorm shower." Way to keep the bar low. 

Also that week, my boys and a tot
and his baby sister, who stay till 5:00 pm,
cheered for Curly during her volleyball game.

Thursday, the day the college guys arrived, I had twin 2 year olds who we're trying to potty train plus other kids. One of the twins was standing outside the bathroom when she tossed her cookies. She had a nasty cough and she had a little gag reflex issue. Thankfully she was nowhere near the family room carpet. 

Minutes before Tank walked in with his friends, I was cleaning puke from the kitchen floor and cleaning the poor, overused-by-toddlers first floor bathroom. I was dripping in sweat. 

The desk chair in the boys' room is missing a wooden piece that connects the two sides. I tucked it into the desk and didn't think much of it. I assume my boys know to be careful when they sit on it. That room has three twin beds. Tank slept in his and two guys slept in the other two beds. We bumped Reg to Mini and Curly's room for the night. Two guys slept in sleeping bags on the floor in the boys' room. 

Before they arrived, Tank took photos of the toddler cot and the pack n' play and texted the guys to say they were sleeping there. Of course, I removed my daycare furniture from the room before they arrived.

Apparently the chair fell over on top of one of the floor-sleeping guys. He was afraid to push it in case it might land on another guy. Tank was relentless the next morning. 

Tank:  So you couldn't push a small desk chair off of yourself? You had to wake up another guy to help you?

I'm sure they'll be back for another visit what with our collapsing furniture and our river of dog shit. 

Oh, I forgot to mention. On Thursday night the guys left to go to a local bar frequented by middle aged men. They hoped their fake IDs would work and I hoped not to bail anyone out of jail.

While they were gone, I made cookies. I had a great stash in the freezer, but this is what I do:  I over-prepare. As I alone? I was putting cookies on sheets at the island. Reg was standing a few feet from me, sniffing. 

Reg:  What is that? It smells like poop.

I also whipped up some
shamrock cookies. Why not?

Me:  I smell cookies (I sort of hummed this as if my humming could make Reg's observation disintegrate).  

It was true - I was smelling cookies. I was also not looking for any poop. I'd spent a day cleaning up poop and pee and puke and I wanted no part of whatever he might be smelling. I was staying in my happy place, a place of denial.

Oh good gravy, when Coach and Reg found the source of the smell . . . there were some disgruntled family members, loud moans, and words said. 

Me? I never even wandered into the living room, which fortunately is hard wood - no carpet. I continued to inhale my warm cookie aroma and let the mess be handled by someone else. Lad was on his way home from working out. I called him, PLEASE HURRY. 

Lad:  It must be these (insert some dog treat or chew thing). 

Me (speaking  in a monotone voice with a chilling calmness, which I find remarkable. I attribute my inability to get worked up to my sheer exhaustion):  Well, figure it out in a hurry because we (including Lad!) are going out of town and Reg and Curly are not going to deal with Finn's diareha. You can use the newspapers over there to scoop. Open the windows on the first floor. Rags are kept in that cabinet and how do you not know where we keep the rags if you live here? 

I then texted Tank to alert him:  Assuming you got in the bar with no issues. Please let your friends know that the dog shit smell is generated by the river of dog shit that poured out of Finn a little bit ago. Lad is cleaning it up. We are airing the place out. Hoping it only smells like my cookies by the time you get home. 

CHANGE MY PLANS, WILL YOU? Coach realized that Reg and Curly are staying at our house alone Friday night and again AFTER the homecoming dance Saturday night. He was upset. I was confused. I'd mentioned 'the plan' a million times.

I don't think he didn't trust the kids. I think it's the epilepsy component. So, in the 11th hour, like at 10 pm on Thursday night when I really WANTED TO BE IN BED, I called our family friend and asked if Reg and Curly could crash at their house Friday night. Their son had to be at the high school in the morning, so he'd drop Curly there for volleyball. It was all settled. 

I left notes everywhere so that the kids would remember to bring a loaf of banana bread and a loaf of pumpkin bread to the sleepover house. At last, I collapsed in my bed.

Friday morning I was awake at 5:20 am. I made banana bread (see above), not needed but a nice touch. You expect this of me at this point, right? I cooked breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls for the college crew. Coach came home and we started talking about how to load the cars and which car was going where. 

Stick to the plan:  there was no way
we were going to get there in one car.
Exhibit A. I've explained all
of this. Really, I have.

Well, this is when it became clear/clearer that when I open my mouth Coach hears white noise (also see above). I'd discussed my master plan MULTIPLE times. I'd drive the minivan with all the fixings for a tailgate, including Gumby, to the hotel. He'd drive the kid car. 


1. Heat the crockpots with the precooked chili in them overnight in the hotel room and hope that the aroma wouldn't disturb anyone's sleep.

2. Early Saturday morning, I'd load the warm crockpots into the minivan and hope not to wake Lad, Ed, and Ed's GF.

3. I'd drive to the parking lot when it was still dark out and wait for the lot to open at 8 am and get a great spot. 

4. I'd be unshowered, dressed in layers ready for a brisk 3 mile jog back to the hotel. 

Coach tried to come up with another plan in this, the ELEVENTH HOUR. Nope. THIS IS THE PLAN. I'M GUMBY DAMN IT, or in this case I'm Gumby's handler, and the tailgate orchestrater.

Do you speak in white noise? Do you have people try to change the plan on you at the last minute? Do you have pets that decide to stink up your home as soon as guests arrive? Do you cook for an army ever? *Colleen Martin, I already know your answer  ;)