March 30, 2023

Charlie Brown and Coach: both good men, not without their flaws, plus IMAGINE

I'm hesitant to share this, because I think some of you might have a hard time finding it in your heart to forgive him. But Coach's comment, combined with the opening of an email a few minutes later, sort of rocked my world back in January.

Coach and I were planning to visit Tank in Ireland. I have off the last week of March - like starting Saturday, March 25th. Coach has a hard time taking off during spring break week, because all of his people want that time off. My thoughts: 

1. He has seniority over just about everybody.

2. He might not be able to find a sub, but the whole company isn't going to fold if there isn't someone to cover for him. Patients will have  less available appointments. 

3. He has vacation days whereas I have unpaid days off, when I cancel my sitting services I make no money. *remember when Mini's senior year- her schedule  wasn't all that taxing and she could skip school to cover for me? I ask with a heavy sigh. AH, THE GLORY DAYS. 

We were leaning towards leaving on a Wednesday evening and returning the following Tuesday. I feel like I might need an extra day, since leaving Wed means arriving Thursday. I'm miserable and worthless on no sleep. I hope to see Shling, the friend I met while I studied in Ireland my junior year. She was in our wedding. She lives in Galway - over an hour from where Tank is studying. I also hope to see her parents, who still live in the town where I studied about 45 minutes outside of Dublin. I want to be sure I have time to squeeze those visits in along with getting to spend time with Tank and hopefully travel somewhere in Ireland with him. 

As we discussed travel dates and work schedule difficulties, Coach said:  


I know what he meant, but still

He did some back-pedaling as I picked my chin up off the floor. He said that since I own my own business I can take off whenever I want. Um, at a financial loss. 

When he said this, I'd been working for HOURS on making the 11 'fake' children that I sit for, because apparently they aren't 'real', Christmas ornaments. I've done this for a number of years, and it went to the wayside when I got covid. Since I have so many cute photos of them, I decided I'd still make them and I'd deliver them after Christmas. I gifted each family with a copy of our favorite book:   THE WIDE-MOUTHED FROG. 

Anyway, I was tired. My back was breaking. I sat down and checked my email. I got a rejection email from a magazine that I'd submitted one of my book chapters to. I get rejections regularly. This was different, because the email included a few sentences from each of the three readers who read my submission. 

Getting feedback is great and beneficial.  Most places charge extra for a critique. While there are many positives to this free service, it arrived at a bad time.  

Three readers shared words that weren't unkind, but they hit me like a slap in the face. I didn't even tell Coach. I just cleaned up my arts and crafts crap and went to bed. 


So that happened back in January, and obviously we ended up agreeing on the dates for our trip. We booked flights to depart AFTER my three busiest work days, only taking off Thursday and Friday - the next week is my spring break. Coach apologized profusely for implying that I don't have a real job. (here's where you all remember how nice it was when he drove to book club with my glasses).

I reached out to a teacher from my last writing class. When I re-read the rejection, I decided - it wasn't really all that bad. She helped me realize that I needed to tie the ending together a bit better in order for the submission to stand alone vs working as a chapter in a book. 

Then days before we went to see Mini at Notre Dame for parents' weekend, I got an email from my college. They were hiring someone. The applicant could live within a 3 hour radius from campus (I live under 2 hours away). Work from home and show up on campus a few times a month. *imagine me waving my hand wildly, YES, I CAN DO THAT.

Then I read the job description and I had NO CLUE how to do what the job entailed. *wah, wah, WAH.

A few days later, I got an email from ND. 

'Considering your second career? Join your student at Notre Dame'

They were plugging the grad school, which has some innovative schedule/location options - like take classes on a weekend or in the city of Chicago. 

Where would I be without my
daily pre-nap Memory game?
Imagine Mini and I attending graduation together? Me getting my own football tickets as an ND grad? Me finding a career that doesn't involve diapers? (but paying taxes would bite). Also, imagine the cost of tuition - Mini attending for almost free doesn't translate to me going for free. 

Do you imagine yourself in a different job/career? Or are you doing something now that had nothing to do with your initial plan/degree? Ed often says I would've been a great corporate party planner. I think logistics is where I'd excel. It's basically what I do. Other career suggestions for me? 

March 27, 2023

this one: light-hearted & CRAFTY, or my name isn't Ernie, oh- whatever

TROPHY SHELVES AND A FAKE OUT:  While I don't currently looking at friends' FB posts, I troll Marketplace. Remember in '21 when the tornado tore up our neighborhood, destroyed a sizeable chunk of our tree, and upended our swing set?

The girls' room shook like a bowl full of jelly and a week later the trophy shelves ripped out of the wall, apparently loosened by Mr. Tornado. 

*meanwhile I slept like I was in a coma. Thanks, allergy shots. As an aside:  I got my shots on Friday and the nurse could NOT believe my shots make me sleep like the dead. In 28 years she'd never heard that. Am I an anomaly?

Digression over:  I hired a guy to put the shelves in proper-like. Several months ago - maybe October? They came down again. So in my spare time, I peruse used furniture - seeking something suitable to store trophies. My preference? Enclosed in glass. Good-bye dust.

I'm thinking I need to pull the trigger and pick something vs staring/shopping - even changing my location. The weekend we visited Mini in South Bend, I swapped Chicago for South Bend. One never knows what a different city might have to offer. I'm a garage sale guru at heart. 

Mini is brining a few friends home to stay with us Easter weekend. She's asked me multiple times if that's OK. I keep assuring her:  YES. Perhaps she feels the need to check and re-check because she's secretly wondering:


Remember when I said I was bored? I'm not one to fill free time with cleaning, so the mess persists. Ordering the house IS my plan. I think new trophy storage is the first step.

This one seems to be like
 a painting project
but there are others that
 are used as fake babies. I would
do a search for one to prove my
 point, but I don't want to
set off any algorithm alarms.
Any-who, I barely scroll through 'friend' posts before clicking Marketplace, but a few times recently I'm like WAIT, WHAT NOW? Certain 'suggested for you' posts are downright freaky. FAKE BABY posts. Realistic dolls that people apparently pretend are real. It's like a thing, I guess. I once clicked on a post, duped into thinking it was about a newborn, unlike this pic - people were holding the fake baby as if it was real. I don't really remember the details but I was confused. After I read about it, I sat back in my chair and shook my head. Thank you algorithms, for identifying me as someone who enjoys weirdness. 

How do I let FB know that is not my bag?

I DIDN'T KNOW I NEEDED A HOBBY, BUT YET:  Our library has a new dedicated area called a maker studio. 

Sublimation Printer & Heat Press
Other items in this category
Button Maker
Candle Maker
Carving Machine
Cutting Machine: Cricut
Cutting Machine: Silhouette
Cutting Machine: Sizzix
Digital Editing
Embroidery Machine
Knitting Machine
Laser Cutter
Poster Printer
Sewing Machine

(that is a list of some of the [possibilities)

I went to the library with a picture of Ed and his girlfriend a few hours before I was going to go see him for Mom's weekend. I didn't realize that the studio didn't open until 11 am, but an employee was nice enough to open and show me the ropes do my project for me. A lazer burned the image into a thin piece of wood and we had their names burned across the bottom. I made one for each of them and they loved it. 

I wanted to create something out of a photo of Mini and her friends, but Mini poo-poo'd the idea of a t-shirt with their photo on it. After parents' weekend, I was on a group text with her friends' moms. I asked them to kindly send me photos of the girls at college for a photo project I was working on. One mom sent me 35 pictures and I got a handful from a few other moms. I had photos from Mini and from our tailgate. Now I just had to decide what to make. 

How about a photo collage banner? I got the idea from a banner from Step Brothers that hangs in Ed's college dorm. Excuse the naughty language. 

I called the library and asked how big I could make it. The girl was like OH, ANY SIZE. Limitless and I are old friends, so watch out. 

I got busy organizing the photos into a publisher file. Then I decided to insert a Notre Dame logo. Then I decided to insert the photos INSIDE the logo. Then I had an endoscopy and decided that I'd just sit and play with photos on publisher afterward for 15 minutes before bed. Three hours later, I'd created a really cool graphic and I NEEDED to go to bed. 

The next day I decided to be a crazed perfectionist and I zoomed in 400% and made little adjustments and swapped out a few photos/resized/angled them and then created shapes filled with gold to match the outside border of the ND to cover up the edges of photos that were protruding. Then I went to the fabric store to get 100% polyester fabric. Then I went to the library. 

The girl working was so sweet, but really didn't know how to work with such a big project. The heat press (used to apply images to t-shirts, etc.) was 12 x 12 inches. My image:  24 x 24. Uh-oh. The first attempt didn't turn out. I was not deterred. 

The next day a seasoned guy was there. He drew a grid on the back of the printed sublimated image as a guide and we pressed a quadrant at a time. 

BINGO . . . I freaking love it. 

How cool will this tapestry look on her dorm wall? Not sure you can appreciate it in a photo. Trust me - way cool. It's a very vivid copy of the photos on like a scarf-type fabric.

PRICLESS -WELL, ALMOST:  I spent LIMITLESS hours, because I can get lost in a fun project. You remember my graduation videos, right? The library charges $2 per foot of sublimation, so that was $4 a sheet for my project. For $5 I got enough fabric to make 2 banners/tapestries. There are 13 girls in Mini's group of friends in PDUB dorm, plus a girl in another dorm. When we struggled initially to get the small press to work on the large piece of fabric, I joked with the library people (my new friends) that I'd gone from planning to make one for each girl to COME VISIT MINI'S BANNER HER ROOM and only making one. 

The next morning, I was like - I'VE GOT THIS. I have 5 made, 3 more prepped - just need to heat press them. Then 6 more to do after that. AND a house to order. 

Ask me if I've gone on FB Marketplace to shop for used heat presses so that I can start my own business? In all seriousness, I would LOVE to have people send me photos, marking their most important 10, pick a high school/college logo/design - like a word:  'LOVE', and then create an image to burn onto a t-shirt or a fabric, etc. Wouldn't that make a great keepsake for a college or high school graduate? 

Mini walked in after her flight home from Ireland and I had the tapestry hanging up in the kitchen. She was like HUH? HOW'D YOU? 

What can I say, boredom isn't really my favorite flavor. 

March 23, 2023

Bluetooth, my makeup habits and teen trends

*next up - my craft project that I am REALLY excited about, but I've bumped this post so many times I decided to finally share it. 

Imagine:  I'm on the phone in my study talking to Delilah, Coach pulls into the garage in the minivan. I realize that I haven't made Delilah laugh in a bit. The other end is silent. Something is definitely wrong, because Delilah is my built in laugh-track, confidence-boosting friend. She laughs at my material, people. Often a few days before you read it here. 

In fact, on Wednesday I told her at least two stories followed by:  I CAN'T BELIEVE I HAVEN'T BLOGGED ABOUT THAT YET. I have much to say, much. 

Anyway, Coach ends up chatting with Delilah from the minivan because my call jumps there since my phone is linked to it. I call Delilah back a few minutes later and we have a laugh about how long I talked to myself before I realized that she was conversing with Coach in the garage. 

It's happened a million times, and yet - I'm stumped EVERY.TIME. 

The best Bluetooth mishap of years ago:  I called my mom from a car GW, no Bluetooth. She was driving next to me My call was grabbed by Coach in the minivan, who was driving behind me. My mom was so confused after talking to me for a minute before bouncing to Coach. She didn't understand technology and this further confused her. 

MAKE-UP:  I don't wear much makeup. (I can't read this line without singing:  I DON'T HAVE MUCH  MONEY, BUT IF I DID, I'D BUY A BIG HOUSE WHERE WE BOTH CAN LIVE.- totally unrelated, but it just keeps happening).

Sometimes I wear a little blush in the winter, since I tan a little in the summer (people who know me are raising their eyebrows:  A LITTLE?). I stopped wearing mascara during the pandemic and I've only started to wear it again occasionally. I do wear lipstick, always the same shade. ALWAYS. 

130 Revlon. Rose Velvet.  

When the Irish dancing teachers sent out an inventory of makeup that the girls needed to wear at competitions, a teenage Ulta employee acted as my personal shopper. 

My shopping text to Tank.
Only the essentials.
If you consider how infrequently I wear blush,  you can imagine how ANCIENT my blush was when I chose to replace it. I HATE buying a new blush color. I want the color that I know and trust. If I stray from what I know and it's too pink or too dark, I can't return it.

So. . . I asked Tank to buy me a blush when he was running to the store before he left for Ireland. He eyerolled, but he did it. I also asked for a new lipstick, because the one and only that I have was lost (inside my messy wristlet) for a day and I panicked, worrying that I wouldn't remember the color 'Rose Velvet' if it was actually lost. I wanted a back up lipstick.

He bought both, but scolded me for wearing a blush labeled 'naughty nude'. He was shocked that my makeup cost like $20. Oh, Tank, if only you grasped how much an average woman spends on makeup. I spend $20 every 2-5 years. 

*I make up for it on winter coat shopping and Fly London shoe buying habits. Hey, to each his own, right?* (get it:  'MAKE UP' FOR IT)

New blush with no brush,
before it was dropped,
and bits of blush with the
all-important brush.
One day before I'd opened the new one, I applied the dust-only one in the car and little particles got all over the seat and I ended up with blush all over the back of my leggings. Not a good look. 

Good thing I didn't throw the remnant blush away though. The new blush didn't come with a brush. This may shock you, but I don't own a single makeup brush aside from what comes in the little Revlon package. 

*I'd like to report that no makeup was hurt in the making of this post, but sadly when I ran upstairs to take a few pics for my wardrobe post, which was initially combined with this makeup one, I knocked my brand new blush that should last me at least 5 years off of the counter and onto the floor. It's fine. A little crumbly, and a corner broke off of it. It's fine, but now kind of messy. Every time I use it, blush scatters all over my countertop. 

My girls don't wear much makeup. Now that she's at college, Mini wears it when she goes out.  

You know what else my girls are wearing? Pajama bottoms. It's like Mini became an influencer somewhere along the line without realizing it. How lucky is she that this trend popped up in her lifetime, because the girl is meant to live in pajama bottoms. Curly has embraced it too. They are so happy that it is now socially acceptable to wear pajama bottoms in public. 

Mini came to many of the b-ball games over Christmas break. She wore pajama bottoms one day. The next day she tried to wear the EXACT same pair. I put my foot down.

Me:  If you're gonna attend, I'll insist that you not wear the SAME pair of PJ bottoms that you wore yesterday. Let's have some standards, shall we? 

She said she had nothing else clean. Um, those aren't clean either since you wore them yesterday. All.Day. 

Old Navy pajama bottoms come in long lengths and that was a thrill for my tall girls. What was not a thrill was discovering that they shrink really easily. Mini mistakenly put her fav pair in the wrong laundry basket and they were washed in warm water. 

Curly's first time wearing her new shoes.
Both girls got Stan Smith sneakers for Christmas. Mini's have a touch of green as an accent color, which she loves because of her ties to ND. Curly's have a light blue accent color. 

The first time Curly wore them, she asked me:  WAIT, WILL THESE CREASE WHEN I WALK? 

Well, what is the alternative, my dear? 

We chuckled while we watched Curly try to walk into the b-ball game at Ed's college back in January without creasing her shoes. 

Pajamas you don't sleep in and shoes you barely walk in. Is it me? 

*When I get back from Ireland, I'll have an update on how I actually purchased a new blush because I wanted the free mini-brush and how that worked out for me. Get excited. 

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?