March 20, 2023

turns out I like being bored

This might make you laugh, but for a few days last week I felt almost bored.  ALMOST. The week prior was gut wrenching. I count that Tuesday as one of the top 10 most difficult days I've faced as a mom. 

Tank's program is not what we expected. Another mom said it best: We had Creighton expectations. 

Tank had to petition Creighton for each classes. His program is supported by his college, so why? Try:  HERE'S A LIST OF CLASSES OFFERED THAT WE'LL GIVE CREDIT FOR. 

We love his college, but this program has disappointed us. I've already shared with the woman who runs the program (she started there in Aug. so she's inherited much of it) that I'd like to offer some feedback for ways to improve things for future groups. 

Tank has ADD. ADD is often buddied up with some other issue - for Tank that's anxiety, typically mild and manageable. The end of January, a week after the twins' mom died, he called me crying. 


*when he was 9 his Focalin meds for ADD killed his appetite. He suffered from SEVERE low blood sugar issues, like trying to jump out of a moving car. The doc switched him to Vyvanse. Tank developed OCD overnight. I called the doc. They told me Vyvanse wouldn't cause that. 


I took him off of it and he became his old self. 

** Senior year in high school, Tank struggled once again with OCD. Out of nowhere. The recurring thought: torture. Tank got through the painful ordeal with therapy. He wasn't taking ADD meds at the time, because school wasn't challenging. 

In the fall, the doc prescribed Adderall. He needed something to help him attend. 


When he called me in January from Ireland, he told me that the thoughts had returned (after being gone for 2 years). He'd reached out to the therapist. *He hadn't started taking Adderall yet that semester, but he started shortly after his issues began.

Me:  You're brave for seeking help and for reaching out to me. 

Before we hung up, I broke down:  I MIGHT BE FAR AWAY, BUT I'M RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. 

He was managing. Weekends were easier - busy traveling. Weekdays he found it hard to focus on academics. 

Then he called me while I was in Texas. I hid in a bedroom - not wanting Uncle to know that Tank was suffering from the same issue that his deceased son had. Tank's new thought loop:  was Adderall the issue? I put him in touch with Aunt Leprechaun. She had a great deal of compassion for my situation, being in the house of sadness while all of this was ramping up. She felt it was time to start an SSRI. 

Remember:  my cousin started Prozac, an SSRI, and then killed himself the next day. The irony of standing in that house shortly after my other cousin took her life while trying to reassure Tank and urge him to take a medication that he didn't want to take and that I wasn't sure I wanted him to take - and then walk back into the kitchen and chit chat lightly with Uncle was nearly impossible. 

Tank had college friends visiting him in Ireland. He spiraled downward. He barely had energy to text me. His visiting friends were confused:  Where's our fun friend? Why are you staring into space?

Moms arrived to pick up their tots on the 7th and I was on the phone with Tank, he was at his lowest. 

Tank gave me permission to reach out to Creighton. I learned that when Tank asked teachers to meet during office hours/assignment clarification, etc. they responded SORRY, THAT WOULDN'T BE FAIR TO THE OTHER STUDENTS. Two different teachers. WHAT THE HELL? One sent him an excerpt from the student handbook. Not giving help is a RULE. 

In summary, because this was NOT what I was going to blog about today, Tank and I zoomed with Creighton/Univ. of Limerick. I insisted on a leave of absence. I wanted him traveling with his siblings while he started the SSRI that his brother was bringing. I shared how upset we were that a school wouldn't help a student who was advocating for himself.

Before things got really bad - I spent hours looking online, emailing various doctors, researching how the university health services works. Family practice doctors cannot subscribe SSRIs in Ireland. I was hoping to get him a prescription there. 

Tank finally shared his situation with Ed, a huge step. His therapist wanted him to externalize. He took the SSRI for 3 days, then stopped. It made him sleepy while out at the pub, God forbid, and now he felt great. I was like YOU FEEL GREAT BECAUSE OF THE MEDS

Ed, Mini, their two friends, and Tank had an amazing time together. Ed's friend  suffers from anxiety. He openly chatted with Tank about his ordeal/medication. 

Coach and I fly there Wednesday for a week. 

Text from Tank of Ed. 
The medication decisions have to be Tank's - per his therapist, so we're trying to be supportive. I'm hoping things will improve with the help of the available services, plus - the professors have switched gears - offering to help, providing him notes, etc. 


Leave it to a brother to
capture her downfall. Literally.
I'm wired weird, not great at telling PART of a story, my open book thing, but here we are:  why last week was 'ALMOST boring'. I wasn't franticly contacting doctors, responding to texts from Tank, staring at my phone waiting for him to respond at times, and counting the hours till Ed and Mini would be with him. He feels good, and we hope that continues. Prayers or good thoughts sent his way would be very much appreciated. 

So . . . the thing I came here to tell you . . . Ed's text:  "Highlight of the trip - Mini falling down in the mud multiple times as we hiked to the Cliffs of Moher. And her having to tell the bus driver that she'd puked from motion sickness in the back of the (very packed) bus from Galway to Doolin." 

Later Tank called me and described the bus incident. I cry-laughed. At dinner last night Mini and Ed re-enacted it. At one point, Ed's friend texted him saying:  I'M IN THE CLASSIC DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT I WILL PUKE OR POOP FIRST WHEN WE GET OFF THIS BUS. Apparently another girl got up, talked to the bus driver, who then pulled over while she lost her lunch in the bushes, rinsed her mouth with a water bottle, and re-boarded the bus as if nothing had happened. Ed marveled at her poise. 

Guess who is super happy that we're renting a car and won't be taking many buses in Ireland? 

I'll have a few posts scheduled to launch while I'm away. My replies might be delayed. I just created a really amazing arts and craft project that I'll share photos of too. Something I started while I was 'bored.' 

March 16, 2023

Say what? Oops, & mistaken identity

A few misunderstandings/bits of confusion that have happened recently that I think you'll enjoy . . . 

I babysit for 'River'. She's a sweet 3 year old little girl who has a lisp. Combine that with her round face, her ample cheeks, and her expressive way of speaking and she regularly cracks me up. She is a bit shy and on Thursday the twin 3 year old girls who usually come on Thursdays were sick, so it was just River until the two preschool kids arrived off the bus at 11. I chatted with River about her dance class. 



Guessing leotards are worn in the advance class.  


One day I was wearing a long, flowy, knit cardigan thing. I believe it's intended to wear with yoga type wardrobe pieces. I wear it with leggings. I don't wear it often, because I end up holding it shut/wrapping it around me which is sometimes hard while babysitting. Also, it's often too cold to wear only leggings. 

The day I wore it . . . 


Once she also grilled me on what I'd done to my hair. I don't remember if it was extra fuzzy, or flat, but she has things to say and I'm here for it. 


One day River showed up with a large pimple on her cheek. It isn't something you normally see on a 3 year old, but these things happen. I knew  it'd be an interesting discussion, so I asked her what happened. Her response did not disappoint. 

River:  I KNOW. I GOT A SIMPLE. (yep - she called her pimple a simple). MY SISTER TOLD ME THAT IT'S BECAUSE I EAT TOO MUCH JUNK FOOD. 

It is my goal to get a snippet of River saying something entertaining on video, while her face is not facing my phone. Fingers crossed. 


I got several of my kids a little mini waffle maker for Christmas. The gift was a big hit. Shortly after Christmas Reg made himself some waffles. As he ate them, I noticed that the cumin was out on the island. Hmm. I think another sib was looking for the cinnamon. Reg pointed at the cumin. Um, NO. 

That's when Reg realized. He'd accidentally added cumin to his waffle batter instead of cinnamon. Oops. 

Aren't they cute? And
usually edible too.


He continued to eat his breakfast. 

A few weeks prior, Reg accidentally put Greek yogurt on his taco. He grabbed it instead of the sour cream. Hey, we all have our strengths - identifying clearly labeled food items while not blindfolded is not Reg's apparently. Room for growth. 


Another tale of misidentification:  I hosted a pasta party for the two varsity basketball teams in early January. Mini was still home from college. The party was a few days before Reg's Jan 9th birthday. The guys were chomping at the bit to inhale the desserts. I'd hoped to light a candle in the Rocky Road Fudge Bars so his teammates could sing. I was juggling a lot of hats, taking pasta out of the oven, clearing a space for the desserts. 

Totally off-subject, but
 this is a drinking
 game table that Mini
and her college
 buddy painted in our
 basement over
Christmas break and then
 brought back to school.
Remember that
cup stack game? I think she
 practiced with this.

The boys were swarming around the island and I realized I needed to get over to the buffet to get a candle from a drawer. I hadn't gotten it out in advance, because feeding two varsity teams is HECTIC. 

I grabbed the candle from the drawer and was shuffling back to the island. I was behind a sea of teenagers who were facing the island. I kept my head down - I think I was trying to see if the candle lighter thing worked. Glancing up, I saw Mini's back. Using my hand, I pushed her on her low back and hollered MOVE. She moved, I made my way around the island, lit the candle, we sang, and I served dessert. 

After the boys eat they raced down to the basement. The girls were lingering longer in the dining room chatting. When they came out to the kitchen for dessert, I had a sudden realization.  


You see, I looked up after grabbing the candle and I saw long, blond-ish hair and a tall body wearing a green sweater and I thought it was Mini, but it was NOT Mini. While the girls were eating their desserts, it suddenly clicked. Mini was NOT wearing a green sweater. Ellie WAS wearing a green sweater and she has long blond-ish hair and she's very tall like Mini. 

So, I accidentally pushed the a kid that wasn't Mini. Ellie was too polite to correct me. 

The entire girls' team heard me admit that I'd pushed Ellie out of my way, thinking it was Mini. We all enjoyed a good chuckle over that oops. Ellie shrugged and laughed and agreed not to press charges. 


Coach and I attended a wedding Saturday for one of his former employees. I have things to share about the wedding, but one momentary mix up belongs here.

Coach's long-time and much-loved office manager, Betty, sat next to me. Betty left his clinic for greener pastures a few years back and is SO missed. 

Mar, also a long time, much-loved employee, sat next to Coach.




A second later, Mar realized- they work with another Ernie. His name is not Ernie, just like my name is not Ernie - but his name is the male version of my real name. If you know, you know. Cackling ensured. 


Why will my asterisks not behave when I try to center align them? Any good 'oops' of late? Mistaken identity? Ingredient mix up? I have some humorous Mini stories to share in the near future. They do not disappoint. 

March 13, 2023

cuckoos, double-takes in our small world, & blinded by the sinus infection

I got a call last week that they could do my endoscopy on Monday the 13th. My mom's bday. Not till 4 pm. Think of me today as all I'm able to eat is yellow jello and other clear liquids. 

Allow me to take you back to the Best's  home for a moment. I don't think you'll mind. It's a happy place. *Note, if I ever go missing, you might find me there. 

As we ate, a clock cuckoo'd in the next room. Then chimes. Dongs. Another cuckoo.

Like, in stereo. What's happening? 

I remembered when Marie, Pat, and Dad were in Texas right after Elizabeth died, Pat slept at a neighbor's house. He's VERY allergic to cats. Uncle has a cat, which didn't bother me  - in part because Mike slept in Tommy's old room where the cat hangs out. 

Anyway, Pat had texted in the sibling group chat that he was sleeping in a house with 80 plus cuckoo clocks. At dinner, I put the pieces together and I asked HOW MANY CLOCKS? I was shocked to learn Pat did not exaggerate as initially believed. Mrs. Best admitted to me that she owns 83 clocks. (grandfather, cuckoo, etc.)

I looked at Grand-mare and whispered:  WELL, I GUESS THEY'RE ALWAYS ON TIME.

Grand-mare:  ONE WOULD THINK. (with an eye-roll) 

I will be texting Mrs. Best this week to see how she is managing with changing the times on ALL of her clocks. 


Mike's flight was cancelled Thursday and he ended up flying to Houston, then Dallas, then Uncle's town. He landed so late, that the Bests picked him up and had him sleep at their house vs dropping him off at Uncle's. He got in at midnight. 

He was shocked that despite being an elderly couple with 22 grandkids, they stayed up chatting with him until 2 am. Mrs. Best took brownies out of the oven well past midnight. Mike was like what universe is this? Then Ann skipped into the room wearing a Disney nightgown with a best friend, also named Ann, who wore a matching Disney nightgown, also in her 40's. The girls were enjoying a sleepover. Mike is a  night owl and appreciated getting to know the Bests, but would never have anticipated that he'd be eating amazing brownies with an elderly couple and getting acquainted till 2 am. 

When I left for Dallas Thursday evening, Lad dropped me off at the airport. I walked through a set of automatic double doors. A couple walked through the other doors at the same exact time. I glanced at them. Then I did a double take. 

Dave's parents. I shoulda
done a selfie with them
to send to Ed. I was just SO
 surprised. Caught off guard.
 I took this to send Ed

I was like, HANG ON, NOW . . . "Dave's dad?"


Ed's college roommate's parents, who I've only met a few times - she doesn't do the mom weekends as I don't think she enjoys that kind of social situation, were heading to Vegas to see comedian Sebastian Maniscalco. Are you familiar with this guy? He's hilarious and he's got a new movie coming out with Robert DiNero.

But imagine - we bumped into one another at the exact same time at the airport. 

Sebastian Maniscalco - love his bit about
 someone ringing the doorbell
 unannounced and  how everyone takes
cover and hides vs the days when
unexpected visitors were
 cause for celebration. 

Less than 2 minutes later I walked through security. I was taking my shoes off in line behind a couple and the woman looked VERY familiar. In my head, I was like STOP IT. THAT WOULDN'T HAPPEN AGAIN

A minute later, I called to her:  DO YOU WORK AT ABC JUNIOR HIGH? 

Well, yes she does. She is the nurse in the front office at the junior high my kids attended. She often answered the phone when I would call the school or be there when I came to sign a kid out to go to the ortho, etc. I could NOT believe it. 

Backing up to before the ND weekend. My eye was done draining from the sinus infection, so I popped my contact lenses in just before I left to go to my college book club. My vision is not as crisp in my contacts, because I wear two different strengths in order to avoid reader glasses. I hadn't worn my contacts for a few days and I was sort of surprised at how bad my vision was, but I told myself it was just gonna take a minute to adjust.

The woman's house was a 25 minute drive from home. At one point I pulled over to be sure I'd actually put my contacts in my eyes. Why is the world so blurry? They were there, but I could NOT see well. The drive was easy -a straight shot to where Jesus lost his sandals, but the further I got from home the more I realized that I should not be driving.

I texted Coach when I got there. I was thinking about trying to hitch a ride home with another woman, but then how would we get our car. It didn't even dawn on me to have him drive out there and bring me my glasses. He suggested that and I felt horrible, but I said that would be amazing

The poor guy works late on Thursdays and gets up at 4:30 am on Fridays, so his rescue mission really cut into his down time. I hadn't told anyone that he was coming, so when I ran outside and came back in wearing my glasses I explained the delivery. We'd read The Boston Girl. We were discussing love stories. Exhibit A, people. Exhibit A. An "awww" went up from my book club buddies. 

I learned that after a sinus infection/antibiotics, my eyes might be so dry that the contacts weren't able to function. Lesson learned. 


Ever run into someone at an airport or someplace and have a 'small world' experience? Do you know who Sebastian the comedian is? Ever have a vision impairment after a sinus infection? Or a weird contact lens malfunction? Are you a cuck-coo clock fan?

March 9, 2023

connecting through Dallas because I heart that friend-connection, best neighbors, & Blue Bunny

I missed my chance to take a photo of
 both dogs outside STARING at us wanting
 to come in. Oh, those FACES.
This is Clementine. 
It did my heart good to be with my friends in Dallas for 2 hours after I landed Thursday night. I used to babysit for them, he's a former Bear, appears in the Super Bowl Shuffle, rocking a cowbell. I flew the next leg of my trip to Uncle's Fri morning. I forgot my friends had a cat (and 2 dogs). My throat started to close and my breathing was labored, but have no fear - I persevered. 

Once I start telling a story, let nothing stand in my way. Words to live by, friends. 

*There  must've been less 'cat' in the guest room, and I slept fine and my airway remained open, which was nice. 

Uncle's neighbor, Mr. Best, insisted on picking me up from the airport, even though he'd picked up Mike the night before and I offered to take a cab.

The Best couple initially lived 60  miles away from Uncle. Years ago, their 9 month old, Ann, had one seizure after another. They saw Uncle, a neurologist, and everything changed. He  provided great care. Uncle continued to treat Ann until he retired. 

Puppy George.

Eight years ago they moved to Uncle's neighborhood where Mrs. Best's mother already lived -a block away from Uncle. They never really knew Aunt, who passed about 4.5 years ago, but they got to know Elizabeth over the last year or so. 

They are COMPLETELY indebted to Uncle and would do anything for him. No exaggeration. They feel his loss heavily and are doing all that they can to support him. 

Uncle reserved a private room and invited the Bests to join us for brunch on Saturday, but Ann had a Special Olympics basketball event. We did dinner Friday night instead. 

We were a few minutes late because Uncle took a late nap. When we arrived the Bests were seated at a table in the open dining area. Mike politely told the hostess that this wouldn't work. Uncle wanted the secluded space because it was quiet, and that is where we would sit. After assuring them we'd be gone before the next group, we had a wonderful meal in our quiet space. Everyone politely refused dessert, but Uncle has a sweet tooth - clearly my blood relation. 


Thanks to the power of suggestion, we each ordered something. I had pumpkin crème brulee. Aka a little bit of heaven. Uncle's carrot cake looked divine.

The next night we ate dinner at the Best's house. She heated up rotisserie chicken for me while they ate lasagna. I worked all day packing the crystal, china, etc. that Uncle and Dad wanted shipped to Chicago. There was very little I could eat at Uncle's and I didn't want to take a grocery break. I was half starved. I ate so much salad that Uncle teased me.

Ann showed off the gold medal that she won earlier that day. She credited the movie Space Jam for her basketball skills. She is a delightful, witty woman in her late 40s. Mrs. shared a story of when Ann competed in a bowling event. Her bestie was in the same event. Ann got a medal and friend got a ribbon. Feathers were ruffled. 

Ann:  WELL, SHE SHOULDA REMEMBERED THE SPECIAL OLPYMIC OATHE INSTEAD OF BEING UPSET:  if I don't succeed, let me be happy in the trying (I'm paraphrasing). 

Ann:  (when they talked about a trip to Disneyland) THAT WAS BECAUSE YOU SENT ME THERE FOR ONE OF MY BRAIN SURGERIES, DR. 'UNCLE'. 


Mrs. Best's mother, Gran-mare, stole the show. (I now wish my name was Mary so my grandkids would call me Gran-mare. Perhaps Gran-air will suffice, if you know you know). She's almost 94. Think Betty White with a southern drawl. She was as cute as a bug's ear and had us in stitches. 


At dessert, she informed me that she's a good Catholic for giving up her Blue Bunny ice cream during lent, and she hoped God would appreciate that, etc. She had pie with no ice cream. When a bowl of Blue Bunny was placed in front of me without warning - who was I to argue despite the fact that I gave it up for lent. I figured since I was staying in a GF food desert, God would let that one bowl slide. 


Forever humble, Uncle said:  WELL, I'M A SLOW LEARNER. 

Not true. He's a genius. He wrote a book and was struggling to respond to the  questions raised by the publisher/find the document on his computer, etc. While I packed boxes, Mike spent the day reviewing emails from the publisher and helping Uncle address everything. It's a book about Uncle's interpretation of a specific poet. Mike also handled financial stuff, picked up Elizabeth's original will from the lawyer, and met with Uncle's estate planner. 

Needless to say, I embraced my packing duties. I also bagged up all of Aunt's clothes that were still in her closet. Those are being donated to a battered women's shelter. 

Uncle is donating their collection of Navajo rugs to an art museum in Colorado Springs. The museum will create an exhibit in Aunt's name and they've asked Uncle to contribute his commentary on the pieces. The rugs needed to be appraised for his taxes. Mike and I stayed up after Uncle was in bed, unrolling each rug, taking a photo, writing a description, and measuring it. We were told there were 17 rugs. 

Most rugs were zig zags. I celebrated a little
when we opened this one. "It has people on it.
Native American people, that I can appreciate.
 All those zig zags were making me dizzy."

When we got to #17, Mike nodded towards a bed sheets where the rugs were stored. There was another still rolled up

Mike:  OMG. (groan - that was me in the background) HEY, THEY ONLY EXPECT 17 - I SAY WE SELL THAT ONE ON THE BLACK MARKET AND SPLIT THE PROFIT.

It felt good to laugh. The photos, memories, and Uncle's grief - he sometimes softly sings Swing Low, Sweet Chariot or will just mumble POOR ELIZABETH, POOR POOR ELIZABETH, are enough to break your heart. 

Do you have Blue Bunny ice cream where you live? Is it your favorite? I didn't have the nerve to tell Grand-mare that I prefer Edy's ice cream over Blue Bell. I thought it wise to stay on her good side. I look forward to seeing these delightful, grateful, loving people on my next visit to Texas. Did you know people there really do where cowboy boots ALL.THE.TIME? It's like being in another country. 

March 6, 2023

gut and other updates

Because I'm silly, I thought I could write about our tragic family situation last week AND tell you about some progress we've made with Lad. Plus the updates to my gut issues. About 4,000 words later I realized, I had to move SOMETHING to the next post. 

So here we are with UPDATES:  

I was supposed to see a new GI, but couldn't get in until April. What now? I really wanted things sorted out before Coach and I fly to Ireland March 22nd. I called Feb 23rd and they had a cancellation for the next day at 1:00. We'd hoped to leave the house to see Mini at 1:00, but I figured I better jump on that appointment. 

This GI doc, a woman, is wonderful. She listened. Asked if I had a rash anywhere - WELL, YES I DO, THANKS FOR ASKING. AREN'T YOU DETAIL ORIENTED? I have a rash under my bra line, along my front-side. It itches in the winter. She is gonna test me for SIBO and Refractory Celiac, but they are scheduling far out (not a 60's reference, just a commentary on how booked they are). 

The SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth - sounds lovely) test involves breathing in a tube. The doc ordered a ton of bloodwork too. That part stunk, because I had to wait an hour until they could stick me with a needle. I thought they were gonna bleed me dry. I wondered why they hadn't had me breathe in this tube at the same time. I didn't ask questions - I rushed home to grab Coach and drive to Notre Dame. 

Well, the hospital called on Monday to schedule my breathalyzer breathing in a tube or a bag test. Turns out I cannot eat probiotics for 2 weeks before the test. I cannot take the acid reducer that I just started - a thing that I think helps me, for 2 weeks prior to the test. The test lasts 3 HOURS. That's a lot of breathing. 

The real clincher:  If I've taken an antibiotic recently . . . um, haven't finished the one for my kangaroo-pouch-inducing sinus infection, then I have to wait 4WEEKS till I can schedule. Ouch. That sucks. I haven't been on an antibiotic in ages. What are the chances? So much for getting it done before Ireland. 

I contemplated pushing the test back till mid-April vs April 5th, because I will be in Ireland and unable to eat yogurt (a huge/easy go-to for me when I'm hungry and other countries usually have this available) and unable to take the anti-acid pill. I really don't want to wait any longer, so I'm gonna have to find something else to eat over there. Fingers crossed.

I need an endoscopy to figure out if I have refractory celiac, which only impacts like 1.5% of celiac sufferers. What on earth? I hate celiac, but could it be that I'm really celiac's bitch and have this refractory version? I can't get the endoscopy done till early June. 

Or is it plain and simple irritable bowel syndrome? But I don't know that IBS would include weight loss. 


I reached out to Aunt Leprechaun a few weeks ago to let her know I was baling on the GI who she recommended years ago. She supported me leaving the GI, but wasn't surprised having heard he'd gotten popular and then was less attentive.

I told her that my family practice doc asked me if I had any stress going on. Well, duh. But that's always the case. Things ebb and flow. Life is like that. 

I've never told anyone on my side about the dark days we survived when Lad got mad at us (mischaracterizing what happened. He was struggling with boundaries and stuff). He stopped living here and stopped having any positive communication with us. I shared a shortened version with Leprechaun, saying that while he's doing SO much better than he was right after graduation in '20, we're still wanting him to be more considerate, etc. 

Her perspective:  She believes firmly this is Lad's ADHD. He no longer takes meds. She's done loads of research. Gave am ADHD talk and didn't want to look unprepared, so she overprepared. She sent Coach and I a bunch of articles. One in particular hit home

It's not like we can just say YO, LAD - TAKE YOUR MEDS AGAIN, but we had a conversation with him. It went REALLY well. We said things like THIS ISN'T YOUR FAULT. And ADD COMES WITH EXTRA BAGGAGE - AND YOURS MIGHT BE ANXIETY. We've urged him to go to a doc and get some meds. He's not a fan. I was like LOTS OF DIFFERENT OPTIONS. IT MIGHT TAKE SOME TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHICH ONE AGREES WITH YOU.

This feels like a shift. He forgets stuff/leaves stuff around/doesn't do things in a timely manner, and I'm feeling less (not completely) irritated by it. Not like I forgot he had ADD, (he's not hyper) but it really impacts life outside the classroom, which has not been our mindset. As a kid, his doc said he only needed meds on school days - not weekend, etc. He took meds while in college, but he's an adult. This article was eye opening for us. Baby steps. 

A few other things on our plate at the moment, but we hope to continue to nudge him towards seeing a doc who might help. 


Why have I ever flown without
sitting in an emergency exit aisle?
Hello, leg room.

I'll update you on my Texas weekend soon. On my flight I rewrote this post in my exhausted brain, but since it's 11 pm Sunday and I babysit in the am - last week's draft it is (that's why I drafted it last week, after all). 

I know it'll shock you: I HAVE LOTS TO SAY. While the situation is heart breaking, I met Uncle's neighbors. News flash:  don't be surprised if we sell our house and move to this Texas neighborhood where the people are DEVOTED to one another. It's heart warming. I can't wait to elaborate. Plus a grandma cuter than Betty White, who I considered sticking in my back pocket to bring home. Her quotes will kill you dead. 

For now, I'm happy to be home where there are no cats (allergies are real, friends) and where the GF possibilities are endless and abundant. Even if I did come home to a messy kitchen with a dishwasher that wasn't loaded. Heads will roll. HEADS WILL ROLL. *Coach was teaching in New Orleans so he's off the hook.

American Airlines for the win:  they offered
 pretzels and I asked if they had anything GF.
It is the year 2023 and American gave me not 1,
but 2 packages of GF/vegan cookies. Day made.

Freakishly Coach landed at O'Hare 40 minutes before me. He was waiting at my gate when I de-planed. We shared a cab home together, which was like a date. A pathetic date, but hey- both out of town? We'll take 27 minutes chatting in the backseat of a car together. Funny how the backseat of a car used to equate to a different kind of date. Less conversation and more kissing. 

Who else remembers when you could walk to someone's gate and wait for them? (when you didn't have your own flight). It's Monday, go ahead and kick the week off with a bang - any good backseat date stories? Guesses on my gut issue? 

March 2, 2023

maybe it'll help to share: tales of the fake therapist (pace yourself)

I have a draft ready to post, but I'm gonna share this in hopes that I'll feel better. I'm fine. Well, I'll be fine. This too shall pass, as they say. I apologize for the length.

My blog friend, Pat, commented Monday:  I'm so glad that you and Coach are having some fun times in the midst of a lot of heaviness. *So true. What a great couple of weekends. 

Then . . . on Sunday a few hours after we got home, I met my sisters at Ann's house. 

Marie took a photo of this
picture that apparently
 hangs in Uncle's house.
I'd never seen it before.
 It's me and Tommy.
I broke down when
she showed me. I don't
 normally share images
 of me - but this looks
NOTHING like me now.
Marie and my brother, Pat, were in Texas after my cousin died. At Uncle's insistence, Marie brought back Aunt's good jewelry for us to divide. Talk about heavy, (and I don't mean that she wore gold bars around her neck). We sat staring at the jewelry, not wanting to claim anything. Marie talked a bit about Uncle and things that he said or how he is doing, etc. She cried. 

I finally said that if no one else wanted it, I'd take the locket. It's engraved with my aunt's initials. Inside are two photos. One of 'Tommy' and the other of 'Elizabeth.' 


That made me cry.


When I was in 2nd grade, Aunt and Uncle went on a vacation. He was a doctor and I think it was a conference. They were going to be gone for over a week. I accompanied my paternal grandma to babysit Elizabeth and Tommy. Elizabeth was in 1st grade and Tommy was 4. I felt VERY important, pretty sure I tried to carry Grandma's suitcase at the airport. We were gone for 2 weeks.

My cousins were a handful. Their parents were 'soft' - easy to walk all over, and the kids could be demanding. They hollered at Grandma at times and acted like she didn't really know what she was doing. I helped her out, mostly entertaining the kids and urged them not to be naughty for Grandma.

I'm sitting opening gifts
wearing 'the dress.'
When Aunt returned, she and Grandma took me shopping. They were going to pick out a new dress for me, as a thank you. As the youngest of 3 girls, new dresses did not materialize ever often. I think I had a VERY specific image of what this dress would be. Although we checked out the inventory at MANY stores, nothing matched my vision. 
3rd grade photo - oh, look
what I'm wearing.

Finally Aunt and Grandma had a loud chat in the front seat about what a shame it was that I hadn't liked the brown one at Whatever-Store. "It was so special and Ernie's mom would LOVE it." Mention an 8 year old's mother after she hasn't seen her in 2 weeks? Sold.  

My dress search had exhausted them. After saying yes to the dress, I proudly wore it every chance I got. 

For the longest time, that trip counted as my WIN. If a neighbor had an extra ticket to a show - I wasn't chosen. "Ernie, you got to go to Texas."  Eventually it became a running joke, because HOLY HELL - COULD MY GOOD FORTUNE EVER EXPIRE?

Anyway, Uncle (Dad's only sibling) came in town a few times a year, or we went there. We begged our cousins to say AROUND THE HOUSE, to accentuate their drawl. We vacationed together a handful of times.

At Disney, Elizabeth was in a beautiful white dress. She was a princess, and it had nothing to do with Disney. In her own world, she danced in front of a marching band that had to stop because they couldn't get past her - captured on one of our family video reels. Hilarious.


Tommy was diagnosed with OCD when he was a freshman in high school. After a negative reaction to Prozac, they planned to see the doctor the next day. He took his life in his bedroom that night. Elizabeth heard something from his room, but everything she did agitated him. She didn't investigate. I don't think she ever forgave herself. 

It was Feb, my freshman year in college. Seeing Grandma and Grandpa huddled in the corner of Uncle's Texas house saying their rosaries when we arrived from the airport was unbearable. 

Afterwards, Elizabeth would only talk to me. My folks called me at college regularly:  WE NEED YOU TO CALL HER. I'd report back. They'd get word to Aunt and Uncle. What Elizabeth needed, how she was feeling, etc. 

It was 1990, not 1900. How did someone not know that this was a lot to ask of me? The phone calls went on for some time. My sophomore year Elizabeth enrolled at Notre Dame. Our folks thought being near all of us (Pat, Marie, and I were at ND or Saint Mary's) would be good for her. She didn't finish out her freshman year. Had a mental health crisis that was rough for Maire because Marie was an RA in her dorm. Elizabeth was brilliant. Truly. I think she worked in her Uncle's office for awhile. She was always unstable. She always lived with her parents. 

At my wedding when the bridesmaids were called to come up to the altar, Elizabeth (not a bridesmaid) stood in her pew. She just stood there. I didn't see it happen, but I heard about it. In the receiving line, she asked:  SO IS IT A WHITE WEDDING? She liked to push the envelope.

I saw her now and then when she came in town with her folks to visit our grandparents. Aunt passed away in'18 after surgery to fix an aneurism, maybe. Uncle has cancer. He's been getting treatment for over a year, but I think it's in his bones. 

Then, Elizabeth killed herself a few weeks ago. 

I carry some guilt for not doing more. Not reaching out regularly. After Grandma died our dads drifted, I think. I sent Christmas cards and get well cards. Could I have done more? Probably. Would it have mattered? My guess is no. 

When I drove to JB's funeral last January with my sisters (remember I hid under my coat to read my book), Marie said she'd been emailing Elizabeth per Dad's request. Did I feel like my 'job' had been reassigned? Yes, I did. I also knew that I wasn't equipped to fix what Elizabeth had going on and Marie was never close to Elizabeth but she'd jump through any hoop to please Dad. 


Good grief. Marie talked about how she felt bad because Elizabeth had no friends. 


Seriously? The girl had a tough life and struggled with mental illness. 

Marie and Ann think Elizabeth feared being alone after Uncle passed. It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that she's gone and that she, too, killed herself. The whole time Marie and Pat were in Texas, I kept picturing Elizabeth at the house with them. Uncle wants to remain in Texas - won't move to Chicago to be near all of us. He has lived there forever and has many friends. He needs to move to a retirement community because he doesn't drive. I think he also can't live in that house anymore. He's had to endure SO much.

Layers:  When Marie called to tell me Elizabeth died, she shared that she'd planned to take Dad to Texas in March, that she'd been emailing Elizabeth for awhile - until Elizabeth stopped responding, that Uncle wanted Elizabeth to travel -so Marie agreed to meet them in Yellowstone with Dad in May. 

Dad converses with me about very little. If I stop by my folks' house and Marie calls while I'm there Dad will chat endlessly. Marie-in-the-loop. Me-on-the-perimeter, not really counting. 

My college roomie has known the family dynamics for years. She was around when Tommy died. She asked me a few weeks ago:  What is missing in Marie's life that she constantly seeks approval from your parents?

Both of my sisters crave control. They're struggling for power over who is running the show. It's Marie, she's Dad's right hand. Ann is coming unglued. I'd like control over who coaches our varsity basketball team, so I get it to some extent - but I like to think I stopped drinking the lemonade years ago. 

Comedic relief:  little Miss
pulled her pony tail out, added some
 food and there you have it:  troll hair.

I witnessed Ann's frustration at the jewelry thing, and I feel for her. She'd hoped to fly down with Dad to then drive 5 hours to a museum to donate 5 Navajo rugs that Aunt collected. The museum is going to create an exhibit in her honor, etc. The museum guy can't meet that day, so now Marie is gonna go with Dad. It's uncomfortable to watch it play out. 

My brother, Mike, and I are flying down this weekend (I'm flying to Dallas tonight, staying with Dee and Maurice - then fly out in the am). We plan to get Uncle out of the house. Take him out to eat, nothing fancy. He'd like to go to some canyon and bird watch. Guessing my bird watching friends will be envious.  

Me to Dad on the phone Tues night:  SO, NOT SURE IF YOU'VE MET MY SISTERS, BUT THEY BOTH HAVE CONTROL ISSUES. ANN REALLY WANTED TO BE INVOLVED WITH THE MUSEUM EXHIBIT. *It didn't help. He's doing it with Marie and he told me he knows Ann's upset - she hollered at him. 

Well, it's a lot. Anyway you slice it. Mom mentioned to me the other day how hard it was for Marie to live in the dorm with Elizabeth. On Sunday, Marie admitted she didn't feel like she went out of her way for Elizabeth in the dorm. I'm pretty sure my role as the fake therapist has been long forgotten. At the jewelry dividing,  jewelry staring, I wept, describing my fake therapist ordeal to my sisters.


I felt better after sharing that with them, and now you. I'm sure my folks were just grieving and grasping at how to help Aunt and Uncle, but it took a toll. 


 I can't go into details, but OCD has struck again recently. Distance is complicating things. Given the above, it's weighing very heavily on my mind. 

I'm self-medicating.
I found some forgotten
peppermint bark in the dining room
fridge leftover from Christmas.


I so appreciate your reading. No need to offer condolences. It goes without saying. My heart breaks for Uncle - a gentle, kind soul. 

Instead, I'd love to hear about a time you got a treat that refused to expire (like my trip to Texas), Ever see anyone stop a show at Disney? A disgruntled non-bridesmaid? Anyone say AROUND THE HOUSE funny? A mom I sit for thinks I look like a boy in that photo.  Me: Have we not talked about this? Are the scars not visible? Go ahead, tell me how boyish I was - you won't be wrong.

February 27, 2023

stacking cups, pong balls: what exactly is Mini studying?

What a weekend. We visited Mini at Notre Dame for her dorm's 'parent weekend'. We met the her group of friends at a bar Friday night. The parents were so nice and a ton of fun. There are 13 girls total in Mini's group. 5 - Chicago. 5 - New York /New Jersey. 2 - Philadelphia. And 1- Kansas City. 

We were surprised they let
 us walk on the field
even with a layer of
snow as a buffer.
Tailgate season looks promising with these new friends. A bunch of us hope to align our schedules and attend the same game(s). I've already accepted that I will probably not be in town for the high school homecoming dance again. The key to our tailgate success will be to buy tickets in the same lot and drive into said lot together so we can park near one another. Or, we can get one parking pass and I can collect everyone in the cover of darkness at a pre-determined meeting spot and pick them all up in the Great White. 

Here come the Irish. 
A bit much for me, and I'm not
 just referring to the price.

I debriefed a few people on my tailgate companion - Gumby, my willingness to drive over people who try to save spots with folding chairs, and my ability to keep chili warm for several hours in a cold car, so they are all up to speed and excited. 
More my speed. But I
 bought nothing.

Saturday morning there was a tour of the football stadium. They basically unlocked a gate and let us walk around. Afterwards, Mini showed Coach and I around the inside of the library which was much cooler than the inside of a snowy, chilly football stadium. 

We looked at the over-priced merch in the bookstore and took Mini to lunch before Coach and I both napped at the hotel. Napping is key for older folks like us who hope to hang with the college crowd. If you haven't hit this stage yet, my advice to you:  DON'T TRY TO BE A HERO. TAKE THE NAP. 

Hogwarts vibe?
Saturday evening, after the catered dinner- in the dining hall that resembles the mess hall in Harry Potter, we all went to a bar called Corby's. I heard one girl ask another girl, "Are we really going to a bar in our sweaters and jeans?" Imagine.

We played a stack-the-cup drinking game. I don't understood the rules, but when people pointed at the cups in
the middle of the table and hollered at me - I drank, damn it. I drank my fair share of the high noons, but one cup I picked up was actual water. The next time I had to drink, it was high noon again. I heard a mom assure everyone that I was just drinking water. I stopped and looked at her:  I DON'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF WATER YOU KEEP IN YOUR HOUSE, BUT THIS AIN'T WATER.

Other parents complimented Mini's extraordinary talent at bouncing ping pong balls into cups. Needless to say, Coach and I are so proud.

Hanging with Mini
 at a bar that I frequented
 in my college days was surreal.
Fun fact, I believe they built this
 bar to use when filming Rudy and
then it continued to be a regular joint. 


Coach admitted on Sunday that we stayed out 1.5 hour longer than he preferred, but he hung in like a trooper till 11 pm. 6 other parents couldn't find an Uber XL Sat night to go to the Linebacker, which is my fav old haunt. We agreed to drop them off in the minivan when we left Corby's. This was the funniest 5 minute car ride. One guy was in the back with two ladies, neither was his wife. Another guy just kept shouting from the middle row:  KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE 'EM. I later heard that the 'Backer was quite tame, and I was glad I hadn't been there to witness that disgrace. 

Sunday marked a year since sweet
 3 year old Violet passed away after
 her 4 month battle with a
DIPG tumor. We stopped
 at the grotto and lit a
candle in her memory.

People, remember how difficult a transition it was for Mini at the start? She is SO happy now, surrounded by great people. She's having an amazing time. She asked which was better:  mom's with Ed, or parent weekend with her, or parent weekend at Tank's in Sept. 


Do you have a hard time resisting merch at your fav college/other haunts? Do you feel nostalgic going back to college bars/other places years later? How many cars do you predict we will park together in our joint fall tailgate? Anyone good at these ping-pong beer drinking games?  Funnyiestcar ride?

February 23, 2023

earbud fail, stir fry, fanny-pack-comeback, & a kangaroo facial pouch

Don't mind me. I'm normal. I drove with another mom to mom's weekend. Remember Ed's friend, Ry?

Some people have work calls, others of
us build forts and rearrange
furniture in the process.
Ry's mom is very nice, but I don't know her REALLY well. She had to take a few work calls in the car. I'd planned to get caught up with a few friends via Bluetooth on the drive, but with my passenger that wasn't going to happen.

Coach lent me his earbuds, saying I could use them if I wanted to while she was on her calls. I decided I'd listen to my rosary podcast. 

How I became an SNL skit:  The put-together mom sat in the passenger seat making work-related calls. I fumbled around in my purse while keeping my eyes on the road. I found the earbuds, put them in, and plugged them into my phone. 

I pulled up my podcast. It wouldn't play. No clue why. Wifi? I was now driving with earbuds in for no apparent reason and I felt silly. I texted  Mini to see if she could chat. I thought I could talk softly into my phone and listen to her in my earbuds. Look at me, I'm a fully functional person with technological know-how, or not. 

Mini called. Her voice boomed over Bluetooth. Oops, my passenger was making official calls. Coach had told me that plugging the headset in would override Bluetooth. Did I insert it into the wrong hole? (That's what he said. - couldn't resist). 

I told Mini to hang on. I fumbled around a bit more. I turned off Bluetooth and hit speaker on my phone. Then her voice exploded over my phone while I sat with headphones in. I tried taking it off speaker. Unplugging my phone from the charging cord connected to the car. Mini was getting impatient and I was feeling like Mr. Bean alongside my corporate friend. The radio might have blared for a moment. I don't remember. Flustered, I was. 

I tried not to display any facial twitches, but I'm programmed to use Google Maps and now with Bluetooth off I had no visible map on my spoiled-by-all-the-advances minivan screen. 

I tried to talk to Mini but she couldn't hear me. At last, I yanked out the earbuds, disconnected them from the phone, and held the phone to my ear not utilizing speaker phone, which is probably illegal. Mini and I had a short conversation the old fashioned way.

Best time to take a tumble is when padded, literally:  Last time I was on Ed's campus prior to the mom's weekend was for the 0600-departure-day for the basketball game following the night of my pouty, un-birthday meal.

My girls own purses, but don't use them. How? For the basketball game, I agreed to stuff their pads into my coat pockets. My kids need to start coming equipped with their own necessities. At church someone almost always asks me for Kleenex. I've resorted to eye-rolling and mouthing:  WHERE IS YOUR KLEENEX? 

We were in the nosebleed section at the b-ball game, and I was a touch dizzy. Tired? If I fell down the stairs, I would've bounced along, protected by the plethora of pads lining the insides of my coat. 

I told the girls:  That's it. From now on, carry your own supplies. 

Perhaps they'll go the fanny pack route. Have you noticed, fanny packs are making a comeback. Who'd've thunk a handy item worn by moms in the early 90s would emerge as a popular accessory to hip young girls in 2023? Not me, friends - NOT me. They wear them over a shoulder or something, and hey - they are handy. 

I feel seen.  Tuesday I was at the grocery shopping for veggies to make a meatless stir fry to serve with quinoa for the protein on Ash Wednesday. *I'm channeling my inner Nicole. (Hi NICOLE

I might've overcooked the
 veggies, but we all enjoyed it.

Delilah (Hi DELILAH) called me and we got caught up. She got a good giggle when I misplaced my cart for 4 minutes. I was loading my groceries into my car and we were still talking. OK, so mostly - I was talking. If you know, you know. 

Diane asked me if I was still at the store. She was pulling in the parking lot as I was leaving. She spotted me in the Great White and I felt seen. 

I don't think I've ever told you about how our calls are sometimes stolen . . . moving that to my next post because I've got to tell you about my face. 

Kangaroo. I have a slight cold - not a feel-lousy ordeal, just blowing my nose a little. I can't remember when it started because it's been so mild. Germs are my occupational hazard. I manage to dodge them a lot, or I've already had everything.

My throat hurt Friday evening while visiting Ed, and it kept me awake. The next day was better. It was strange though, because it wasn't the start of the mild cold - it was like the middle, maybe? Or was this a new cold?

Tuesday my face looked funny. Maybe I was in weekend-recovery mode, or perhaps a semi drove over my face while I slept. A few hours later, my eye started to weep, then ooze mucus. I don't think it's pink eye:  no pain/sensitivity to light. It's the same side where my nose gets stuffed during the night. The doc said it could be overflow from my sinuses. So my eye is acting like a nose then? Lovely. 

Did I need a content warning for this?
 It's my face, people. Don't be alarmed.
She called me in ointment, saying it doesn't hurt to treat it as pink eye. Plus Flonase and an antibiotic in case I have a sinus infection. Can a sinus infection be non-painful? No head ache? I don't want to get worse while visiting Mini, so I can't decide if I should take the antibiotic or skip it.

This morning the eye wasn't as red. Still woke up to drainage and then this:  A


Do you know how to work your Bluetooth or earbuds, or are you gifted enough to mange both? Have you held onto something, like a fanny pack, in hopes that it would make a comeback? Do you vote that I start the antibiotic or hold off? Have you had an inconvenient ailment/facial-pouch before a fun weekend?