January 30, 2023

sadness, scary, & winter coat decision, intervention needed

HEARTBREAK:  Reg, Coach, Curly, and I attended the twins' mom's service today (drafting this on Sunday). Friends, it was impossibly sad. 

Please pray for/ keep the dad, Tony, and the twins in your thoughts. My heart breaks for this family and for this horrific, senseless tragedy. After learning more details, I fear the dad will never stop beating himself up for not calling 911 sooner. 

When I hugged Tony, I told him that we'll be helping in anyway that we can and that I can be bossy, so I won't be taking no for an answer. He laughed. 

The twins start drivers' ed this semester. Coach and I are seasoned at driving with teens. Need driving hours? We can pitch in. The twins both wear braces. I'm the scheduling queen over here in WHAT CAN I GET DONE DURING NAP TIME LAND. Plus, I have a few days a week that are toddler light - we can pick up at school and get them to the ortho - then I'll read books to the tots in the car. We've got this. 

Remember how we almost sent Reg and Curly to Catholic school? Coach and I agreed tonight. Based on how much the twins have been leaning on Curly, their paths were meant to cross. She needed to be right where she is. 

ALSO SCARY:  Coach got a text Wed. from his BIL. His sister had a colonoscopy and they'd ruptured her spleen. We now think they lacerated it. Still, SCARY. If your spleen is ruptured and you don't realize it, you can die. SIL stayed overnight in the hospital and they opted not to do surgery. She is home, taking it easy and they are keeping an eye on her.

This news arriving on the heels of Lisa's sudden death following a routine hysterectomy was jarring to say the least. 


Me:  AT LEAST 5. *the point:  I never had an issue. 
On to a lighter topics, warm - but lighter . . . 

I need an intervention.
WINTER COAT SHOPPING:  I bought myself a handful of Pajar winter coats online last week. Von Maur didn't have my size, so I ordered a small inventory in order to shop from home. I might need an intervention. 

The price is staggering. Even at 50% off, it makes me choke - but my last coat didn't hold up, and I believe this one will. Pajar is a Canadian brand and from reading Nicole's blog (hi NICOLE) those people KNOW cold weather. 

This is the cuff of one sleeve
 and a rip further up on the arm
My last coat was from a fancy-pants store. I assumed that it was a good brand, but it's raw silk and literally fell apart. It wasn't cheap. Maybe people who shop fancy-pants stores replace their coats more frequently than I do. I've embraced my inner Ma Ingalls and mended it here and there, but it's time to invest in something new. I've worn it since maybe 2015 and it's TATTERED.

Other cuff with the black
binding tape I sewed
over the seam because
it was so frayed.
Decisions:  The longer one has pockets that zip close, which I like. It has thumb holes in the elasticized cuff. It has an interior cord to cinch tighter. Both have a faux fur hood feature. Both the hood and the faux trim can be removed. 

The shorter one seems warm enough. The pockets snap shut, but zippers are obviously more secure. Not that I tend to do cartwheels while out and about, or anywhere really, so my keys should remain in place. The shorter one is a bit cheaper, but not significantly enough to sway me. 

The temperature ratings confuse me. Mini was equally confused, so I feel less dopey. Clearly if it will keep you warm when temps drop down to four below - then it will keep you warm if it's 50 degrees out too, so why list a range? Shouldn't it just be warm enough to four below or 22 below? 

Longer jacket, so
apparently not a coat?
Shorter coat -
but supposedly warmer?

I assumed the longer coat was warmer, because of its 'extras' like thumb holes - but according to this temp rating - the shorter one is warmer. Then I realized that the longer one is technically a jacket and the shorter one a coat. 

I ordered both styles in large and medium, so four coats (wanted to be sure I had enough room. The medium is sufficient). Then I added a medium in black when it went on sale. Go ahead, tell me I'm silly - I'll believe you. 


Remember my purse purchase dilemma? Do we now see why I can't be expected to shop for a coat more frequently? Do you have an opinion? If you live in a winter climate, how often do you replace your winter coat? Do you go with a favorite brand?  If you don't live in a winter climate, when should I come for a visit? 

January 26, 2023

eating out minus PTSD with no cobb, Grayson talk, & a lot of blarney

The other moms and I are waiting for a signal that we can prepare meals/organize a meal train for the twin's family. Curly has informed me that they have A LOT OF FOOD, so we're holding off. I'm guessing you're all familiar with the feeling of helplessness that occurs when something like this happens. For me, food prep and sharing food is one way to feel useful. 

In the meantime, I wake up during the night with a pit or butterflies in my stomach. Then I remember. I can only imagine what it feels like to wake up in their world. The twins are attending school/ playing in their basketball games, but Curly told me C went home from school yesterday. People they barely know are offering condolences in the school hallway - well-intentioned, but he felt overwhelmed and had to go. They told Curly it helps to keep busy. 

In other meal news, I wanted to fill you in on the road trip to Ed's college. Remember the early morning drive? We arrived an hour and 45 minutes before tip off. I get that we weren't sure about game day traffic, but- say it with me: 


Indiana University, Ed's school, lost. We were down 15 most of the game. After a  run in the 4th, we threw up a more-than-half-court buzzer beater and made it . . . to lose by 1. 

Welcome to the nose bleed section.
And bad lighting makes for a decent blog-share photo.

Afterwards we went to a restaurant. It was Sunday at 3:30, so the place wasn't crowded, which was good because PTSD from the night before. It was a Thai place. At first I wasn't sure I was up for something so adventurous. I don't like spicy, or fish, or ingredients I've never heard of. Ed gave me an eyeroll, so I said SURE. 

5 years ago, he and I were on a college visit out east and we went to a restaurant. Their salads were 'funky'. 


They could not. Ed eye-rolled. The salad I ate was DELICIOUS, complete with warm quinoa. A first for me. Ed has never let me forget how well that adventure ended. If he thinks I'm veering into the WON'T-TRY-NEW-THINGS lane, he mimics me:  UM, CAN YOU JUST MAKE ME A COBB SALAD PLEASE. 

My Thai meal was delicious. Everyone liked their food. It cancelled the frustration from the night before, except that Lad wasn't with us. *but didn't cancel my half-b-day-summer-Wildfire plan. 

You might catch a glimpse of my fam's faces here, but look at that food.

I don't remember when it started, but Ed likes to talk about his future kid. He'll only have one child - a son. His name will be Grayson. It isn't something he's serious about and it doesn't come up often, but we were having a field day with 'Grayson' talk that day. He'll only eat healthy food. He'll be very academic. He'll be a brown-noser. He'll wear Hosier (Ed's college mascot) related clothing, etc. 

We were cracking up. We may have even teased that Grayson will hit the side of the backboard when he plays basketball - something that Ed did, and can't live down, in his first high school varsity game appearances. Ouch. 


Speaking of Tank, he's struggling in Limerick. I drafted an email to Creighton, but held off. Today I called. The woman in charge of the Ireland program at Creighton started in August, so she inherited the issues. 

This was the main subject of my post and I'm JUST getting to it. 

Summary:  Is this program not sponsored by his college? Look up classes, compare with Creighton equivalents, and petition Creighton to allow him to count the credit. This took weeks in the fall to map out. Creighton SHOULD hand him a list of approved Limerick classes. 

The day before he left Univ of Limerick's class schedule came out. Some of his approved classes overlapped- had to petition for OTHER classes. He and I worked on a feasible schedule for 4 hours while I was babysitting/ he was packing. 

Missed his first class - unclear it was zoom. After a week of orientation - they never said THIS BUILDING IS MOSTLY BUSINESS CLASSES. Was told he couldn't choose his tutorials-worried they might conflict with his other classes and mess up his schedule again. 

Can't travel outside of Ireland without a student visa, but appointments aren't offered often and students get little warning. He got appointment. The lady in student affairs cancelled  it (without asking him) because she thought he wanted to attend a student trip to Cork. Meanwhile he got the visa appointment email, so he refunded his Cork ticket. Then he found out she cancelled his visa appointment. 

He wakes up with knots in his stomach fearing what will be screwed up next. Very frustrated. 

Yesterday Aunt Leprechaun gave me contact info for her friend's son who is studying in Limerick - like 2nd or 3rd year. He's from the States, but studies there. Hoping he can show Tank around. Tank would like to meet Irish students, but is housed with all US kids. He said his neighbors are Irish 'at some point' he might bring over some beer and say hello. I told him to make 'at some point' today. 


Do you know anyone in Limerick? Do you think Ed will have a son named Grayson? If so, any other characteristics that you think he'll have that we may have glossed over? Do you like Thai food? Am I the only non-adventurous eater out there? 

January 23, 2023

nothing makes sense

I have a long list of things I plan to post about. Normally when I can't sleep, tackling something on that list would make sense. Right now, at 3:30 am on Saturday, nothing makes sense. NOTHING. 

Earlier in the week, Curly attended Reg's home basketball game. Her games are often at the same time:  varsity boys home/varsity girls away and vice versa. She didn't have a game, so she got to sit in the stands with her friends. 

On the way home I asked her where the twins were. 

Curly met boy/girl twins C and K right before freshman year started. K played on the volleyball team with her. Curly went to homecoming with C, as friends - at least that's what I've been told.  The twins, Curly, a set of boy twins, and a few other kids formed a sweet little group of friends. They all introduced themselves when we first had them over. They emerge from the basement after they hang out and rather than disappear out the front door, they track Coach and I down to thank us for having them. Parents came to the door to meet us when they dropped their kids off too. 

Curly was at the twins house ALL THE TIME. To be honest, I prefer kids to come to our house sometimes. I like to get to know the kids' friends. Curly had a blast over there. The twins' mom, Lisa, was always home. She'd drive Curly home from school or volleyball practice if Curly had to wait for a ride. Our house is out of their way. 

I met Lisa at a volleyball game. She was very nice and was over the moon about her kids spending so much time with Curly. "WE JUST LOVE CURLY. SHE'S SO SWEET." The twins have no other siblings and the mom was very involved in all of their activities and organizing gatherings like homecoming dance pictures, etc. 

She hosted a pumpkin carving party at Halloween. She shared a bunch of photos of the group in a mom group text. The dad acted as the judge of the best pumpkin, etc. I don't throw my teens a friend birthday party annually - I shoot for doing something when they turn 16, but Lisa helped her kids pick out a gift for Curly's December birthday even though there wasn't a party.

Curly was thrilled the crocks, which was on her wish-list. I had covid on Curly's b-day. She had an away game. Lisa was there for K's game and made sure to give Curly a birthday hug at the game. 

Lisa also texted me to say how much they enjoyed our family Christmas poem. My poem, if you recall, is lengthy. I recap the year with a focus on poking fun of the nonsense that happens around here. Before I'd even gotten Lisa's text, Curly mentioned that the twins' family raved about the poem. Props to a family that just met us in August, but bothered to read my whole poem.

The twins play freshman basketball and their whole family would sometimes stop by and watch Curly play since varsity is scheduled after freshman. 

On the ride home from Reg's Tuesday game, I asked Curly why the twins weren't there. Curly told my mom and I that Lisa had some kind of female related surgery and when she got home she had an issue. She went back to the hospital in an ambulance. Internal bleeding and maybe a brain bleed. 

My mom and I were alarmed. Surely 'brain bleed', couldn't be right. Curly said they weren't supposed to tell anyone and only she knew. I've met the moms of her friends and I'm on a group chat with them, but I don't know anyone well enough to text and inquire what was going on. I did tell Coach. I told Curly that hopefully Lisa would be fine. We all prayed for her. 

The kids had exams during the week and Curly said the twins were so upset. She hugged K in the hallway Friday, the last day of finals, and K cried and ran to the bathroom. 

The twins went to Curly's game last night (Friday). I took that as a sign that things were improving. On the ride home, I asked Curly for an update. Curly said K texted her and said Lisa could come home the next day. I felt so relieved, "See, honey. She must be doing well."

Before I went to bed, Curly came down the hall, "MOMMY!" 

She was sobbing. I looked at her, confused. "WHAT?" 

"SHE . . . " before she could even finish, I started yelling, "NO, NO, NO!"

Lisa died. The twins had just been told and they both wanted to call her. Lisa had lost too much blood/brain bleed - blood clot. She wasn't able to wake up. Curly and I were sobbing, and groaning. Coach came running up the stairs. He fell to his knees in the hallway. Disbelief. She was young (40's) and seemingly healthy. (*editing to add:  she's technically on life support, because the kids went to the hospital Sat morning to see her.)

Curly now says that K's 'coming home' text included a misleading typo. 

I feel awful. This poor family. Curly is devastated and so worried about her friends. 

Curly:  How will they go back to school? They're gonna miss her so much. How will they stop being sad?  What am I going to say? How will K grow up without her mom? They didn't get to say good-bye. The last time K saw her she was being taken out of the house on a stretcher. She should've been fine. It was ROUTINE. She was SO nice. Someone made a mistake and they're gonna call me back and say she woke up. Why can't they just wake her UP? 

The dad is so overwhelmed, apparently blaming himself (guessing because he's a doctor and wishes he'd recognized that she was in distress sooner).. 

I told Curly that it was great that Lisa got to know the twins' high school friends, because Curly will always remember her. Another mom (who Curly finally gave me permission to text once she knew that she knew, so I could inquire what we could do to support them), who felt equally awkward about how much time the group spent at their house, told me she'd offered to send food once and that Lisa had waved her off. We both agreed that we are now glad that she created those memories. I urged Curly to continue to be a good friend, listening when they want to talk, and understanding when they don't. 

A few weeks ago when I was freaked out by my lab results, I kept thinking of all the things I still wanted to do/say/enjoy with my kids. Lisa won't get that chance. 

I slept for a few hours, but when I woke up it seemed like a bad dream and then I remembered that it wasn't and I couldn't sleep. I cried off and on all day and I didn't even know her well. My heart breaks for all of them. Curly had a game Sat night and she had me send a link to C and K. They wanted to watch her game to pass the time. 

Life is so fragile. 

January 19, 2023

when same-page thought goes thru the pauper-paper shredder

After my labs were normal, I suggested to Coach that we take the  gang to dinner. He said he'd been thinking the same thing. Hooray for the same page. 

I suggested Wild Fire. It's my favorite, specializing in steak. No menu needed, "I'll have fillet mignon, please." When Coach gets bread before dinner, they bring me, hands down, the best GF bread I've ever had. I never eat bread, so this is a treat. 

Coach and I usually go there for my birthday. His patients often gift him with a Lettuce Entertain You gift card after treatment ('Lettuce' owns several popular nice restaurants in our area), which is always much appreciated. We keep a little stash of our various gift cards, and we dig through when we want to go out. This is a nice occasional perk of his job. Remember - his hours suck, so tradeoff. 

Backup the bus to last year's birthday dinner:  My AHA moment:  Now that the kids are older and not spilling milk and throwing food, well - depending on the day, I'd enjoy having the entire family attend my birthday dinner. So last year we all went to our local Chilis a few days after Wild Fire. I figured that we'd plan things differently this year, so we could all celebrate me. 

Where the same-page goes into the shredder:  Coach snarled at the Wild Fire suggestion. Note - I had not requested we do dinner for my b-day. I just wanted to take our family out for a nice meal. We rarely all eat out:  schedules, kids away at school, and budget constraints. 

He said he and I could go to Wild Fire later for my birthday dinner, but it was too pricey to take everyone. 

I argued that we could swing Wild Fire once a year. More head rolling (his version of eye rolling, but the whole head rolls, sending a message of exasperation). Fine. I let it drop, but I said a group our size needed a reservation soon. It was Wednesday and we wanted to eat out on Saturday. I was bummed, but I said I didn't want to go to a place like Chilis. 

I heard him on the phone:  DO YOU TAKE RESERVATIONS? He sent a link to the menu at Outback Steakhouse, which I didn't notice for days. I wasn't thrilled. Yes, they serve steak, but still more of a Chili's feel than what I'd envisioned.

We wanted to eat early because we were getting up early to drive to Ed's college. We stopped at home after mass 4:30 mass VERY briefly - since we live a few houses away. Coach was annonyed because reservations were at 5:45. 

Outback was at the far end of the neighboring town. More of a 20 min drive than what I'd assumed was a 7 minute drive. 

While Coach parked, Mini and I crawled our way through a huge crowed to check in. 

"Oh, we don't take reservations, but we keep a list of requests. We'll let you know when your table is ready. It's about a 30 minute wait." 

Coach had failed to make the non-reservation thing clear. 

My brain:  30 min is a worse case scenario. We'll be seated sooner. 

We  waited like cattle (get it, steak place). When the bench opened up, I sat. I told my tall people to try to move away from the booths where people were eating. With limited standing room, my guys were spilling into the aisles. I tried to stay positive. Lad was meeting us straight from work, so this would mean he might make it in time. 

I bought this when we were in Annapolis watching Lad play water polo. I had it in my closet and intended to give it to him for graduation. Then 'shit-show', so I gave it to him for Christmas. (wording:  THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DAY WHEN I HAVE NOT BEEN PROUD OF YOU, I SAID TO MY SON - THOUGH SOME DAYS I'M LOUDER ABOUT OTHER STUFF SO IT'S EASY TO MISS THAT.)

As I read several blog posts on my phone, the crowd thinned. Lad arrived. We waited. 

A man, tired of having my men cast a shadow over his meal, asked the hostess to make them move. I overheard him and instructed Mini to alert the fam, NOW. Sheesh. 

Eventually, I asked the hostess for an update. A large group was still using 'our' table. I'd seen these people leave and come back with store-bought cupcakes as if they had a private room. I watched as the group finished eating, and now stood around their table chatting - despite no space to do so. Really it couldn't be helped, but a different restaurant would've been more ideal for our purposes . . . as in - we wanted to sit down and eat without bumping elbows with other tables. We needed a real reservation. 

We waited for 1 hr., 10 minutes for our table. So much for eating early and getting to bed. *My gut issues sometimes ramp up when I eat late. 




Other than that comment and the few tears I quietly shed at the hour-wait mark, I made a conscious effort to engage and chat with my people because this was our one-night-out meal. The dinner was fine. I didn't order a fillet, since Coach was so cost conscious. He'd chosen this place because he'd been given a $50 gift card. 

Gift cards from patients:  both a blessing and a curse. 

A waitress handed Mini her plate across three people. Mini reached for it, but the plate tilted and a puddle of grease landed in her lap all over her new purse and her favorite jeans. She wiped away tears while I assured her I'd probably be able to get the grease out. 

I was honestly grateful for the family time. Lad had threatened not to come after his outburst about not being included in the Ireland trip, but there he was. 

I get that it's pricey to treat the family. I know Coach was aligning with our commitment to being cautious with money, but the kids are all old enough to enjoy a night out and appreciate it. It isn't something we do often. Also, Mini has a scholarship and Ed has a great job lined up and he'll pay us back for this semester's tuition so we can pay it forward to another kid. The 'we're fine' list goes on. 

Next year it'll be done right. I promise to make the reservation myself. I work very, very hard (and I have an upcoming post about my daycare to prove it). I earn a good income and I save money where I can. Our kids are borrowing VERY little to pay for college. I've spent YEARS being frugal and careful with money. One nice dinner out a year does not frivolous spenders make. We are NOT paupers, damn it. 

I'm thinking of planning a festive Wild Fire half-birthday this summer when we are all together. Half birthdays are the same as birthday months in my book - celebrate till all celebration efforts have been exhausted. 

Oh, and when the bread basket, brimming with gluten, arrived at Outback, I was starving. Enough said? 

Tell me, do you choose where you and the family eat out? Will any of you be in town around, oh - say June 30th, and if so, would you like to gather for my 1/2 birthday? Do you have a suggestion for a place for us to eat in the Chicagoland area?

January 16, 2023

my diet upgrades, bad blood & my frazzled nerves

When I went to the doctor 12/17, she was alarmed by my weight. I'd lost 12 lbs. since May. I knew I'd shed a few pounds, but 12? I'd lost the weight since August not May, but she last saw me in May. I told her I'd made a few changes to my diet. She took blood before I left. 

They don't do rapid tests there for covid, but she told me to take a covid test when I got home and I was positive. *relevance forthcoming*

Back in August I was grumbling about how I eat healthy and I workout like a dog, but I still felt like I had a few pounds that I couldn't get rid of. Ed is a very healthy eater. He suggested that I eat too much sugar. Who me? I rarely eat dessert, because of celiac. Um, turns out that added sugar was in some things I was eating. Believe that, if you will.

I decided to cut out two of my favorites. My granola-like protein concoction and my protein balls. I was eating both each day because they were GF and I deemed them healthy. Well, maybe they were in the healthy family. They were super labor intensive. I miss snacking on them, but I don't miss whipping up batches to freeze.

I also cut out the frozen GF muffins from Costco - they were a smart food. Smart? As in smart to eat? More added sugar.

I weaned myself from applesauce - my fav after dinner treat, which I would still sometime enjoy, but only a tiny taste.

I added an apple every afternoon in place of my muffin. That fills me up.

*I'm forever searching for a good food formula that works with celiac, my gut issues, and my ravenous hunger. I was eating eggs daily for awhile after oatmeal. I used to consume lots of trail mix (like 6 yrs ago). I used to eat apples - always with peanut butter. I've dealt with the pain in my side/sleep disturbances for years, which I'm really starting to believe is from scar tissue resulting from years of undiagnosed celiac. A dietician told me once I was eating WAY too much fiber, so I eliminated the apple and cut my cobb salad in half. 

Then when I landed in the ER on Halloween, I decided to cut out popcorn and corn and anything with seeds, even though they didn't say I had diverticulitis. I felt like  my body was warning me of things to come. I'd just indulged in popcorn a few days prior after not eating it for weeks, months even. 

In the fall my rhuemotologist did blood work. He pointed out that my cholesterol was high. I cut out almost all red meat and cheese. 

With sugar cutbacks, seed eliminations, and cholerstrol red flags, there were layers to my diet changes. 

This technically belongs in Christmas blunders (part 2 forthcoming after the dinner story). Coach hung our Christmas lights in late Nov. This stretch was lit initially, and died the next day. He maneuvered the lights so that there wasn't a 'bald' spot. I did crop this photo so that you weren't disgusted by our disgraceful garage. 

After the ER I realized that the pain in my gut had mostly vanished (I'd been sleeping better) since I'd made the August diet adjustments. My granola-like concoction included sunflower seeds (also:  toasted quinoa, dried cherries, almond butter,  coconut, GF oatmeal, dark chocolate chips, etc.) and without seeds in my diet I was mostly pain free. Lightbulb moment, friends. LIGHTBULB. 

All this to say, I felt like my food change-up could be responsible for pounds shed. I eat a lot though and as much as I'd tried over the years, I'd never been able to lose even a few pounds. Once the doc was alarmed, I wigged out. 

When the blood work came back, I viewed the results in my patient portal, which I think shouldn't be an option since I was uninformed. Parts of it were labeled ABNORMAL. Overall (white blood count and a few other areas) the results were NOT GOOD. 

The doc office called to set up a zoom with me a few days later, claiming she wanted to check up on me. I had covid, why the check up?  

In freak-out mode, I turned to my friend, Google. Mistake. 

The doc's motive for the follow-up was BAD BLOOD. Sherlock Holmes here. 

I redid my blood work on my b-day after fasting. My blood drawing lady was in stitches as we chatted about family and how I'd just hosted and was hosting again later that afternoon. I may have mentioned how Ann texted a few days before Christmas asking if she was invited. And how my sis Marie brought a Cesar salad. 


Blood draw lady:  RIGHT? 

Our chuckle fest was a nice little diversion, as in let's joke about stuff and lighten the mood here. Supplying her with comic relief sure beats my former role as the pass out cold queen.  

My friend,  an oncology nurse, admitted that my numbers weren't great, but she also insisted that covid could throw those off. Hmm.

Why, oh why, did the doc do labs knowing I was sick? Two weeks of stress and worry could've been avoided, because . . . 

On 1/6th, I zoomed the doc, who was happy with my totally normal labs. 

I'd worked myself up into a bit of a mess, if I'm being honest. I suppose hosting both sides for Christmas was a blessing, because BUSY. In quiet moments though, I'd start to come unglued. What if this was my last Christmas? What if I would need to stop working to do chemo or something? How would the kids manage without me? How could Coach manage the kids without me? Remember, I'd just recently seen what my house looked like when I wasn't available. Not gonna lie, the house isn't kept in order even when I'm not down with covid, so imagine. 

Well, it was a rocky few weeks. I prayed a lot and kept reminding myself that I felt good. The fact that I have gut issues at times scared me. Related? 

Anyway, the doc was very reassuring. She ordered a calcium test to be sure I don't have a blockage, since my cholerstol high - weirdly, so I did the CT the other day. I have to go back to see her mid Feb, so she can weigh me. I've assured her that I've probably gained some of that 12 back since I was large and in charge of Christmas - and I created some GF desserts. Plus, ice cream has been my stress-relieving buddy. 

This post will help me explain my feelings about the scheduled family dinner. Are you familiar with the saying, when someone shows you who they are, believe them? I'd like to adjust that to:  

When someone tells you where they want to go for dinner, believe them. Dinner drama to follow. 

January 12, 2023

cooker/baker/and all-things maker until there's too much talkie-talkie: Christmas blunders (part 1)

* first off, thanks for joining me on a Thursday. Fun fact - I used to post M, W, F - then I eliminated the Friday, but dang - Wed comes up real fast after a Monday, in case you weren't aware*

Christmas blunders include, but are not limited to . . . 

On Dec. 23rd, I made green bean casserole to feed an army for my-side party. I make it in the crockpot so that it'll be easy and I don't have to tie up an oven. I decided to make it with real, actual, delicious flour for the majority of the people, because I KNOW that GF flour tastes weird. 

Then, I made a small GF version for Ann, who also has celiac, and I. 

Well, the kids were all standing in the kitchen. It was the usual conversation of who is going to go grab what at the grocery store. Ed was my regular shopper, and he should probably be privy to more of an inheritance as a result. He answered texts mid-shopping stream and called to ask about substitutes, etc. He's a prince. 

There was lots of talk about who was going to go workout and where. 

*There are two places we workout since the high-end health club that we get for free because of Coach's clinic's affiliation remodeled during the pandemic and eliminated their basketball court WITHOUT CONSULTING US, if you can imagine.*

Unrelated, because I didn't 'blunder'
the haircuts (thank goodness),
but I cut Reg, Ed, Tank, and
 Coach's hair on Dec. 23rd - just in
 case you thought ALL I did
 was cook prior to Christmas.
*Tank goofing with his long-ass hair,
parting it to make me laugh
and Ed waiting in the hot seat.
Who would they drive and when, and would it suffice for me, the cooker/baker/and all-things maker (I want this on a t-shirt), to get the needed grocery supplies after a workout, or were supplies needed before the workouts? These workouts involve shuttling Reg to his gym of choice, since he now has a membership to LA Fitness, which we joined to compensate for the loss of the b-ball court at the other place. His pass includes 2 guests to LA for free and he often takes Curly and they shoot around. LA is down the street from the high-end place, which is in the same building where Coach works.

Life is sometimes complicated, but I'm guessing you already knew that.

You're updated on our workout locations, so moving the conversation back in the kitchen with the sweet and sour green bean casserole. The boys were leaving and I looked down and realized that I'd put GF-foul-tasting flour in the big vat-o-non-GF green beans. Damn. 

I'd already prepared the baby-sized portion for Ann and I. I did it first because I've been known to get in auto-mode and throw all of the green beans into the big vat and forget to save some for my GF baby-sized dish. I hate auto-mode, but since I'd had covid I was playing catch up. I screwed up. 

I did my best to scoop the GF flour out but it was on top of the mountain of bacon pieces. I wiped most of the pieces of bacon off on paper towels before adding the bacon back in and then adding 'real' flour. It wasn't pretty, I mean unless you like to clean flour off of bacon. 

I could not figure out
what this was a photo
 of the other day. Oh, it's
bacon after I 'cleaned' it.

On Christmas I forgot to put my miniature sized GF beans in the oven until it was almost time to eat. 40 minutes later when I took a bite, I realized I'd forgotten to add sugar. Fortunately Ann and I were the only ones impacted. 

What on earth is my problem though? I tossed a cup of sugar in the leftovers later. Insert me humming:  IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN. 

Later when I made a new-to-me dessert (pumpkin chiffon pie that my mom usually makes), I opted to do so when all the kids were out with friends late at night. No talkie-talkie to distract wacky-wacky me. 

The next day was Christmas Eve. I shared the Christmas menu with the kids, or more importantly I pointed out that I wasn't serving rice broccoli casserole. Or Jello. Or dinner rolls. Civil rest ensued.

They almost stuffed me up the chimney and asked Santa for a new 2.0 version of me. 

I can't believe I almost
skipped the jello (mixed with
 vanilla ice cream) - and look
 at how wonderfully I got it centered
on this Christmas plate. 
On Christmas morning I made Apple Puff Pancake and an egg casserole that I'd prepped in advance. While I made the apple puff (labor intensive), Coach ran to the little grocer that was open, grabbing what I needed to make rice broccoli, jello mold, and dinner rolls. And all was right with the world. *He'd insisted that I NOT do my usual big breakfast spread, but I really didn't want to skip it - the kids LOVE that  tradition. 

This explains why Santa didn't deliver gifts until 11:55 am. In order to stuff the stockings, I ordered the crew out of the family room for a few. I have a funny story about a stocking stuffer, but it'll have to wait. I've written and rotated out SEVERAL endings to this post- trying not to make it book-length. So . . . 

A small tree and a small stash of gifts. 
I'd like to thank covid for limiting panic shopping/ unnecessary last minute purchases, and for gifting me time to wrap/organize gifts. Most get wrapped at Von Maur, where I shop, for free, but there's always more. I wrapped on my last quarantine day, also known as the day before I walked downstairs and faced THE MESS left by my people. 

I put all the gifts in an empty pack-n-play crib in my room. (thought I took a pic of this, but didn't)

Mini came in and saw the pack-n-play:  OH, WOW. YOU ALWAYS TELL US, "YOU'RE NOT GETTING MUCH THIS YEAR. YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING." THEN WE GET A TON. I GUESS THIS YEAR YOU MEANT IT. *she wasn't complaining, just laughing.

Can you bake or cook when people talk to you, or does conversation screw you up? Do you buy more than you mean to buy/panic shop/struggle to keep things even? Did Santa show up on time at your place? 

January 9, 2023

not a moment to spare weekend, pasta party, sucky drama, & clueless Curly

I'm drafting this on Friday afternoon. The weekend looks insanely busy, so getting a head start. FYI:  I'm planning to start posting Monday and Thursdays vs Wednesday to give me a tad more time between posts. Will that work for you? 

Reg and Curly play games at 11 ands 1:15 Saturday at opposite ends of our world. Like an hour fifteen minute trek from one to the other. 

Saturday evening we have plans to take the whole gang out to dinner before three  return to college. 

Sunday we have tickets to see a b-ball game at Ed's college. We'll be dropping him off at the same time for (drum roll) his last college semester. I'll miss him as he is very helpful and good to me, but happily mom's weekend is mid-Feb.

We have to leave at 5:40 am to get to the game. When we bought the tickets, it didn't dawn on me that we'd be leaving SO early. As in, YEAH THAT DAY WORKS, but I didn't note the time the game started/time zone, etc. When I learned of our early depart time the other day, I suggested we stay in a hotel. Ed has a house there, so he and a few boys could bunk at his house. Lad has decided to skip it to be home with Finn (there was some family drama this week, getting to that in a bit, but that cropped up after Lad decided he didn't want to go to the game). If we got a hotel, we'd only need one room. 



First off, I've been sleeping till almost 7 lately, gloriously. Secondly,  I cannot wake up and walk out the door (we can't all be Mini), so waking up an hour early isn't really accurate. My hair requires attention, or a hat and I'm not really interested in wearing a hat all day. I'm also not interested in driving almost 8 hours round trip in one day, obviously. 

I know what you're
thinking - this is
downsizing what
you normally do?

PASTA:  Thursday night I hosted both the boy and girl varsity basketball teams for a pasta party. This was the 3rd and final party that I've hosted in as many weeks - including two Christmas family parties back in Dec. I'm a social person. I love to host. I enjoy preparing food for an army, but I am HAPPY TO SIT DOWN AGAIN. My body ached so much after the high school kids had been served and we heard them playing nerf guns in the basement. 

I refrained from making my standard 10 trays. I made 7. Maybe 7.5. Still, we had about 3 trays leftover (OK, maybe a bit more than that, but I gifted some to the mom who co-hosted with me). I've been dropping meals off at my folks' house regularly, so they got a supply. Also, Ed is happy to take a tray back to school with him. 

DRAMA:  When I collapsed on the couch post-pasta duties, Tank, Ed, Mini, and I started talking Ireland trip logistics - mostly Airbnb reservations. Ed and Mini are flying over to visit Tank (who is studying in Limerick) over their spring break. I bought their flights for them for Christmas.

Remember, last year I wanted to take the whole fam to see Ed in Buda and call that Christmas done? Enter covid, and we decided against it. I thought gifting Ireland tix would be great this year - a few less people to shop for. 

Lad wasn't factored into the equation for a variety of reasons. He doesn't contribute to rent or food (work in progress), so he wasn't slated to get more than one or two small gifts from us. Also, he uses all of the hot water to bathe his dog on occasion and his apology is:  I TOOK A COLD SHOWER, TOO. 

Wait, what now? You CAUSED the hot water shortage. 

Unfortunately, Lad also isn't easy to get along with. Remember when he didn't talk to Ed for a few months after Ed shared that Lad admitted to having some mental health issues? Ed was concerned, and we told Lad that his brother choosing to share that info was out of love. Lad was ticked and lashed out at Ed. Nothing new. We all put up with his nonsense and it's really unacceptable. See above:  work in progress. 

*My goal for 2023? To require Lad to be more accountable. 

Boy oh boy, it makes me cry, because I REALLY want us to be the big happy family of my dreams. I beg the other kids to give Lad some space as he's working through things, but damaged relationships cannot be fixed or put aside to invite someone on a trip when no one is sure how he will treat the people on the trip. 

Looking back, I wish we'd pulled Lad aside to give him a head's up that the Ireland trip was happening. I feel lousy about that, but between covid and hosting and everything - I fell into the mode where I check something off of my list and then move on to the next thing. We didn't make a big show of giving a few kids flights to Ireland. 

When Reg pointed out that Ed didn't have many gifts on Christmas, Ed reminded him that it was because he was going to Ireland. Lad looked at me and asked if he was going to Ireland. I told him he could do whatever he wanted, since he has a job. 

While we discussed the Airbnb situation Thursday night, Lad got upset, saying that he feels excluded, and that how could I not have been more sensitive to the exclusion thing given my family history. 


After Lad stormed off, I told Coach that I wished he'd have spoken up and said something. Lad tends to get in my face about things and Coach is usually not home. Then Coach has time to gather his thoughts and say all the right things. Even Coach admitted that I handled it well. Still, hop in and use your voice ANY DANG TIME. 

We both feel awful, because we can put ourselves in his shoes and we hate that he feels left out. Truly, awful. At the same time, he refuses to own his behavior and we can't skip doing things and travelling just because it might be hard for him to accept when he isn't included. The next morning I pointed out to him that while he admitted to needing to talk to someone for over a year, he chose not to. That directly impacts his relationships. 

A long post to say, this sucks. 

*update:  Coach talked to Lad Friday night while I was at Reg's away game and they went to Curly's home game. Coach got through to him with a little:  hey when I sense people are upset with me, I stop and take a look at how I've been acting. 

I am grateful that at least he listens to one of us.


It's Sat. night, just got back from our family dinner (that Lad said he wouldn't attend, but then came around. Grateful for that). More on the dinner later, because I have strong feeling about the dinner. It's way past my 'getting up at 5 am' bedtime. I still have so many Christmas stories to share. Some humorous doozies, unlike this here post of suckiness. 

Are you a thrown-on-a-hat type, if you are attending an event? Can I get an amen on the hotel stay vs the early rising? (OK, Nicole - we know YOU could get up early. hee hee). Do you feel like some pasta now? 

*we found out at dinner that Curly didn't know we were road tripping tomorrow. I feel like we almost had our own mini version of Home Alone. 


January 4, 2023

sports fan mom overdoing the forward to an aside, sorry, NOT sorry

My kid at a different game. One of Mini's
 old teammates hollered to the girl who
 was guarding Curly:  HEY #3,
If you've been here before, then you will believe that the below part of this post was initially included in the post that I planned to share today. Um, it was a long ass aside and the post I intended to share was not brief even without the aside. 

I drafted a post, then dashed off with Mini to Curly's b-ball game, knowing I'd have to finish blogging later. 

Curly's game was UNREAL and I drove home in a thick fog while shaking with adrenaline. (like not foggy in my brain from cheering too much - although that could apply here, but literally foggy. It was balmy here - close to 60 degrees, as if Chicago forgot it was January). 

We were down 16 points - never had the lead until the final minute or two. Curly missed like four 3 pointers, but then hit two three's in the final 4 minutes. Her defense was intense. She had 5 steals and a few blocked shots. We won by three. 

I debated wearing this to Reg's
 game in early December. Curly
 barred me from leaving the
house. It's one of Ed's old
warmups. We are the hornets,
 so the shirt looks like a bee
 hive. It is like a dress on me.
 I admit that it's super ugly,
 but I think it makes great/unique
 spirit wear. I texted it to Mini
 who supported me wearing it,
 because I'm beaming in the
 pic and I looked so happy.
I chickened out.


Mini (who was sitting with her teammates from last year's team):  YOU LOOKED RIDICULOUS . I HAD TO SHIELD MY EYES. 

**note:  this does not deter me from being the crazy cheering mom, although I do hope that you can't see me on the recorded game.

Lad watched the game from home on that school's streaming service (yes, it was an away game - we pulled off the win on the opponent's home court), so he was able to save the recorded game. He emailed it to me, so I can bring my laptop over and share it with my parents. 

I feel like I should host a watching party and you could all watch the game too. Of course, I just told you the outcome, so that wouldn't be as fun as it was for me in person.

Ahem, OK, I'm calming down. Promise. 

I've been working on submitting some of my stories to online lit magazines and I had to put a few finishing touches on a story that I just submitted a few minutes before I switched gears and hopped over here. 

What I'm saying is - this night was epic. The thing about my story that I'm submitting is that I revamped it a bit and now I love it and I REALLY want this lit magazine to publish it. I'm kind of on a high right now, like a THIS-ESSAY-ROCKS high and then when they opt to not publish it, I'll crash and burn. 

But hey - that might not be for several months. My sports fan high is combining with my LOVE-THAT-ESSAY high and I might need to take a lap or two before I  settle down for bed. 

Well, this was supposed to be a quick explanation of why I'm sharing the below 'aside' as a post instead of an aside, but I got a tad long winded about sports and writing. 

Sorry, NOT SORRY . . .


(an aside, I'm in stream of consciousness mode, hoping you'll roll with me): There is less than a  month left of Reg's driver timeout due to his grand mal seizure Aug. 1st. 

Feb. 1st, people. It IS coming and we so hope that he has no other seizures (he's only had the one - which was enough for a lifetime in my opinion, fingers crossed and prayers sent) and can gain back his independence and then I can gain back my sanity. Truly this has been SO very hard for him.

Not gonna lie though, it has been very challenging for me too. You know what I've done, or at least tried to do? Make it my life's mission to bend over backwards to get him where he needs to be and back again without making him beg for rides or wait very long. If you are picturing me tied in knots after bending a bit too much, then you've got the right image.

I'm not patting myself on the back, but I have stopped a few times to CHAT LOUDLY with the people who I need on  my same drive-Reg-whenever-wherever team. 

I asked Coach to help me with something when I was reorganizing the basement storage room in the fall. Reg texted to say he was ready to be picked up from LA Fitness. Coach was grouchy with his basement assignment thing, so he grumbled something like HE CAN WAIT.


Coach looked at me for a minute and it was like someone hit him over the head, hitting him over the head sometimes might be tempting, but he is a man and chores can be annoying, says the TASK MASTER. 


Ed came home from school and grumbled once about why couldn't Reg just wait and then workout later, who cares if he wants to go at such and such time.



unrelated:  this baby I sit for
 LOVES Finn. Here she
 is massaging his neck. 

And so for most of this glorious month while I've had a college kid home, I've mostly gotten them and Coach on the same page and we do our best and Reg is always appreciative. 

Ugh, there was a dark day when the kids had a half day and the college kids were still gone. It was naptime and I couldn't leave. Curly was with friends and Coach said he would be home around 2. That turned into more like 3:30 and Reg was losing his mind because he wanted to get to the gym. He probably really wanted to have plans with friends and that didn't materialize and it probably added to his irritation. I wished I'd reached out to Coach sooner, but he got tied up and didn't realize our sitting duck boy was a very frustrated sitting duck. It was hard to be in the house that afternoon as Reg's frustration was palpable. 

There is a kid on the basketball team who drives Reg to practice and home A SHIT TON. He lives a few blocks from us, so we're on his way. Guess who has unknowingly joined the Shenanigan-baked-good-of-the-week club. I've showered this boy with cookies and pumpkin bread.  

Reg to Curly about a month ago:  DID YOU KNOW THAT IT'S MY BIRTHDAY FEB 1? 



I would like to throw a little surprise b-day or surprise you-can-drive-again party for him on Feb. 1st, but not sure I can pull that off. I'll keep you in the loop. 

_________________(long-ass aside over) _________________

This is a photo I took of the lights above our garage a day after Coach hung them. Note, I feared that some of you might take ill if you saw what the inside of our garage looked like, so I cropped the pic. The lights worked for one day then the middle of the string went out. He dealt with it and covered it up, but our lights sucked again this year.

I hope you will comment or I will really feel lousy that my long-windedness scared my lovely readers away. Are you a sports fan? Do you write and if so, do you submit to online lit mags? Can you believe it's been 5 months since Reg could drive? How would you celebrate his back-to-driving day? A cake shaped like a car? Or maybe best not to emphasize too much, like better to just knock on wood. 

January 2, 2023

On the 18th of December, my true loves did these things . . .

The following took place on Sunday, Dec. 18th. The day after I tested positive for covid. Not surprisingly, I measured everything that happened prior to Christmas in relation to that positive test.

I came across this recently. It's a poem Ed wrote about me when he was about 10. I love this and I meant to post it on my happy birthday to me post. Not sure that I ever jumped across a lake, but otherwise he nailed it. 

Tank set up the garland that I ordered from Home Depot. It was sitting in a giant box on the island while I was quarantined. When he stood outside my bedroom door and asked me what he could do, I told him to set up the garland on the mantle. "It's in a box on the island." 

Instead of setting it up, he went to his room and did nothing. Eventually Coach asked me if I could give Tank a job. I learned that he hadn't done the garland, so I called from my sick bed, "TANK, GARLAND!"

He wanted to be done quickly, so instead of listening he asked me where the box was. 

Let's pretend this faceless photo isn't  creepy.
Note the garland in the background
 on the mantle. Also note, I bought a
 new dress half price a few weeks before
 Christmas and I love it. This photo was taken
 before I had a chance to put my cute black
 boots on. A few guys got a vest for Christmas, so
 they all wore vests for a silly photo.
Coach borrowed one of Lad's
 vests, and didn't take it off before our pic. 


Then he asked which mantle. 


This exchange went on longer than I care to admit and ended with me shouting at him while he said things like I'M JUST ASKING - but he was asking the exact things I'd just said. He was too busy trying to race off to do the thing half-ass to tune in. 

Good thing having sudden high blood pressure isn't problematic for a covid patient.  

Coach said Tank initially put the rectangular shaped garland on the mantle and walked away, thinking that was it. The folded up piece required some unfolding in order to stretch it across the mantle. Duh. 

Meanwhile, Mini and Curly went to the mall. They returned things for me and picked up a few gifts that I ordered for in-store pick up. 

Ed made a new garlic chicken, parmesan potatoes recipe for me as I was contemplating making it for Coach's family's Friday party, but I wanted to do a dry run. 

While double masked, I went downstairs with all of my dirty dishes Sunday evening. I was immediately annoyed - not by the mess, because standard. The recessed lights in the family room's vaulted ceiling were weird, like bright white. Like give-me-a-headache colored.

The girls and I did Christmas
 cookies on the 22nd.


Reg:  OH, YEAH, DAD CHANGED OUT ALL OF THE LIGHTBULBS IN HERE BECAUSE ONE WASN'T WORKING. (this would require a ladder and a trip to the hardware store because we don't have spares)


I'd been upstairs for like 36 hours.

Coach had to run to his work to do some paperwork and wasn't home. I went to hide in the study to do some deep breathing inside my masks, away from my people. 

It dawned on me. There's a remote for the recessed lights that we never use. Tank must've bumped it on the mantle when he was racing through his garland setup chore. Reg acted like he'd seen Coach change out the lightbulbs, when in fact - he knew nothing. He switched to fake-news mode because . . . 

Her mouth is a little misshapen -
maybe she was using a
Voice to get her people to do stuff.

A) he wanted to set me off, 

B) he wanted to feel like he knew some important information, 

C) he dreamt that Dad changed the lightbulbs and he could no longer decide between reality and his dream, or 

D) the weird light vibe threw him off so much that he was confused.

A bit later, Coach called me out of hiding because he'd found the light remote. He wanted me to vote on which color the family room lights were supposed to be.

If this proves nothing else, it should demonstrate that THEY CAN DO NOTHING WITHOUT ME. 

I stood across the room and told him which light was our 'normal'. 

While the lights flashed through a weird yellow, to the institutional bright white, to the normal, Mini was explaining the awful time she'd had at the mall. The store never texted her to say that her package was wrapped, so she stood there waiting at the gift wrap counter forEVER. I would've asked if my package was ready after too much time had passed, but there's a learning curve here when people try to be me. She's a young me-in-training. There are lessons to be learned, people. 

Meanwhile, Reg walked over to the kitchen table, picked up a brand new basketball, and gasped:  OH. HEY, WHO'S IS THIS?

The girls had picked up his new basketball from Dick's sporting goods and left it on the kitchen table, because doing chores for me apparently depletes brain cells. 

Reg's evolution b-ball was stolen at LA Fitness in the fall. It's a $79 ball. He's been using Tank's old one. Reg isn't one to ask for stuff, except for new b-ball shoes and then he wants ALL OF THE SHOES. I just realized that day that a new ball would make the perfect gift.  Surprise. Or in this case, surprise ruined.  

I needed to remove myself from the kitchen, double masked and all, because who knows if the steam pouring out of my ears might contaminate someone with covid.  I was so annoyed. My great idea BLOWN. *sigh*

I blame covid for my inability to be fast enough on my feet to come up with a good cover story for the suddenly appearing b-ball on the table. Instead of creating some fib that he would never believe about why I'd spend a crazy amount on a ball for a godson, I grabbed the ball and pounded away while hollering GIRLS, WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM? WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE HIS GIFT ON THE KITCHEN TABLE? 

There are no really good answers here. Looking back, I have no idea how we made it to Christmas morning without me losing my mind. Truth be told, Santa didn't arrive until late morning on Christmas day and the late-tobe-placed-under-the-tree gifts weren't opened until noon. But damn if we didn't host an amazing party on Dec. 25th for my side of the family. 

There's more Christmas bits to share, but the goings-on on Dec. 18th are quite telling, me thinks - so I thought I'd start there. Anyone else ruin a surprise or avoid a chore or have someone fail at a delegated task or have ALL of their lightbulbs changed out (or not) or make too many desserts to count? 

Oh, and Happy New Year! Did anyone else fall asleep on the couch by 11 pm?