April 27, 2023

What now? the importance of context, Irish soda bread is USUALLY enjoyed, & a 1st date

I was in CHILLY Milwaukee over the weekend and Coach was with Reg in sunny Phoenix. Reg hit a three pointer in the limited minutes he was given, in three different games. Hooray. He still didn't play much, but he played more than he has lately. Also, his game schedule allowed for Coach to see 3 of his 5 games.

In Milwaukee, Curly's team beat every team by somewhere between 30 - 50 points. Perhaps because we're a new-ish team, there weren't a lot of stats on us, so they didn't know which pool to put us in. Um, more challenging pool please. It cost me $65 to get a 3 day pass and $10-13 to park each day. 

The kids might need a b-ball scholarship since we will be broke by the time they go to college.

I've been telling Coach that I want to find a way to make our money, time, and talents work for us. My angle? Let's buy a huge gym/commercial warehouse and run travel b-ball tournaments. Cha-ching. Gold mine. See $65/parent for the weekend. 

Or, let's buy a small home in South Bend and rent it out. Game weekend rentals, depending on location and size (but like 2 bd, 2 ba, so not HUGE) go for around $1,000 a night. Plus, we could stay there when we are in town. There is a FB group for parents of class of '26 at ND where people sometimes share info on their rental properties. Other college parents would be most likely make excellent air bnb-type clients. 

My third idea, and probably my most doable option, is to make college collage banners. I'm a bit groggy today after whipping up the PDF for a banner for Ed and his friends last night from 8 pm - midnight. I've been begging him to send pics. It was like pulling teeth, but he sent a ton yesterday. I'm hoping to distribute completed banners to his buddies graduation weekend, assuming I find time to haul myself over to the library and use their sublimation printer and heat press. I've been trolling FB marketplace shopping for a heat press of my very own. 

Some of the girls when we surprised Mini and delivered the banners. Good visit - short and sweet. Mini was told to return to the dorm because one of the girls was crying. She felt this was a prank, because said girl never cries - but she didn't think Nana, Curly, and I were the prank.

Anywho, I was sitting around chatting with other parents in the hotel in Milwaukee Friday night. I got a text from Coach, who was with our epileptic son, mind you.

Oh, my poor blood pressure. I got to the end of the text, and was panicked. When I saw Lad's name, I thought OH, THIS IS FINNEGAN. 
What's this, you ask?
A pull-dog toy for
 my daycare. Finn
chewed his wheels
 up while we were in
Ireland. It irritated
 me, but I do wish he'd
 stuck to eating dogs.
Right? Or is it Lad? Or a person who is with Lad? 

Dear Coach, I'm so glad our paths crossed the night before my grad pig roast in 1993, but IF YOU EVER SEND ME A TEXT LIKE THAT AGAIN, I WILL BEAT YOU WITH A WET NOODLE AND NEVER 'SELL*' YOU IRISH SODA BREAD AGAIN. 

The patient WAS Finn. He survived. So did I, barely.  

What happened? I baked Irish soda bread Friday morning, but I ran out of time to drop if off to my friend's house as Curly and I were racing to Milwaukee following tot pickup from my daycare. One never knows about Friday traffic. I distribute soda bread to local friends to celebrate St. Pat's Day. Yep, it's almost May. Been a tad busy. 

I texted Lad Friday:  "Please drop off the plate of Irish soda bread on the island to Jan." Fresh soda bread is amazing, so I didn't wanna wait till I got back Sunday to share it with her.  

The crazy thing is, after I asked Lad, I was filled with doom. He'll be in an accident. Or get a speeding ticket (even though she doesn't live far away), because I asked for a rare favor. Apparently, before dropping off the bread, he took Finn to the dog park, and stopped to get gas. Finn ate all the bread when Lad went inside to pay for gas. Raisins are toxic and owners who refuse to take ADD meds do not always think of ALL.THE.THINGS. *sigh*

Exhibit A:  I present to the court, a loaf
 of bread that IS irresistible, even,
apparently, if you shouldn't eat raisins.

*Coach has a habit of coming home after I've baked cookies/breads:  


I often bake as a thank you to someone, or for an event, like a tailgate or a college visit. I can't explain it, but his IS THIS FOR SALE thing drives me NUTS. He knows this. Why can't he just beg for a cookie like the kids? CAN I HAVE ONE, PLEASSSE?

More of the love story:  After Coach and I spent most of the summer flirting, he finally asked me out. Just me. No Irish friends. When he was on his way to pick me up, I casually called BYE to my mom before jogging out the door. I did NOT want her to know that I was going out with him. I ran out the door, hopped in his car and Mom appeared at the screen door. HI, SHENANIGAN! HAVE A GOOD TIME. 

My brother has the real-life same first name as Coach, so we always called Coach by  his real-life last name. When I talk about family there's an overload of Coach's real first name, so I refer to my husband by our last name. 



On that first 'date', I heard a voice say "HEY" in Coach's backseat. I turned around and there in the backseat was Jay, Coach's neighbor and Kari's first husband. I was SO confused. 

Later at the bar, I asked Coach why he brought a neighbor along. UM, HE WAS OUTSIDE AND HE SAW ME LEAVING THE HOUSE AND HE ASKED WHERE I WAS HEADED AND THEN ASKED ME IF HE COULD COME ALONG. He shrugged as if, what's the big deal? 

Coach's sister met us at the bar. Hours later when the four of us walked to the parking lot, my SIL called: "COME ON, JAY. YOU'RE DRIVING WITH ME." I should probably send her a thank you note. 

Coach pulled over when he was about a block away from my house, so he could kiss me good-night without my mother poking her nose out the front door, given the hour, that was not likely - but one never knows. As he approached my house, he barely slowed down in order not to take any chances getting spotted by my mother.  

Have you gotten text messages that left you in a panic? Anyone tag along on your first date with someone?  What's your vote for my business venture? 

April 24, 2023

the Coach & Ernie love story: a move, a pig roast, another move, the Irish girls, & a dare

I'm switching gears from basketball and the awfulness that has cropped up. I'll fill you in soon, but I'm doing a little digging and processing so I have more to tell. 

Mess with my kid? Dumb move, DUMB move. (and Toad is not the culprit)

I've told the story of how Coach and I started dating to friends a few times recently, and - well, it's pretty funny, cute, etc. OK, if I'm honest, it's the stuff ROMCOMs are made of. I can't believe you don't know this yet. 

When I was in 8th grade, my dad's company was bought out. He was THRILLED to still have a job as stress from potentially being laid off haunted him and his budget-conscious self. The buying company and his position were not located in Racine, Wisconsin. Near the Wisconsin/Illinois border. My folks had built four houses, some out of state. They thought they were done moving and that our well-loved house was 'IT'. We'd lived there for 8 years, our longest. We were all very sad to move. 

*read between the lines:  I wonder if something good might come from this move? 

My folks looked at houses in Racine. "Hell NO." They couldn't live in the middle of nowhere. They both had parents living on the south side of Chicago, so they opted to move to a northern Chicago 'burb, a half way point between Dad's work and their folks. Dad ended up with a long commute and a perpetual grumpy attitude. 

Ann, a college student, and Mom toured area schools prior to our move. 

Ann:  Pat, I saw the cutest Irish boy. I think he'll be your best friend. He didn't seem to know the answer when a teacher called on him, so he stood there making everyone laugh while he tried to guess the answer. It was so funny.

We moved into our house the day before the first day of my freshman year of high school. Pat was in 8th grade. Pat naturally became friends with the class clown Ann spotted on her visit. His name was Coach Shenanigan. Our folks became friends - they lived down the street from us. 

Remember, Mom cut my hair with a flat edged razor blade. I looked like a boy. I wore my older, shorter sisters' hand-me-downs. The first 3 years of high school were not my most attractive years. No exaggeration. I managed to get contact lenses without passing out and grew my hair long the summer before my senior year of high school. 

Pat's friends came to the house to hang out regularly. I resembled Igor's bride, schlepping around, grabbing a cookie from the kitchen while they were gathered eating pizza, etc. and had few, if any, conversational exchanges. 

Fast forward, towards the end of my senior year Coach's parents announced they were moving -transferred to Rochester, NY. My folks offered to have Coach live with them to complete his senior year. I would've been a freshman in college. His folks said no. They wanted to keep the fam together. They rented out their house, knowing they'd be back in a few years. 

I went away to college. Coach's folks moved back into their house in August 1992, but we were both heading back to our respective college I guess - didn't cross paths until the following summer. 

After I graduated in '93, my folks threw a pig roast grad party for me. We hosted two girls from Ireland that summer. Pat and I had become good friends with them the year we studied in Ireland. My brothers and Coach caddied at the golf course and the Irish girls waitressed at the country club. It was all very Caddy Shack-esque.

Caddyshack pic compliments of FanBuzz.
This Irish girl thinks she might be preggers, if you haven't seen the movie. There was NONE of that kind of drama in our very innocent version of Caddyshack.

The night before the pig roast, a group of us walked to a local bar. Marie flew in town with her boyfriend, who's now her hubby. He asked Dad for her hand that weekend. LOVE WAS IN THE AIR . . . see where this is going? 

At the bar, I leaned up against a cocktail table and chatted with Coach, the boy-next-door the boy down the street who I hadn't seen in 4 years, for HOURS.  You all KNOW I'm capable of a long chat fest, right? 

The next morning, I woke up a bit hungover. Something occurred to me in a SHIT, WAIT NOW? WHAT ABOUT? sort of way. Mom is the eternal Irish matchmaker. The Irish girls were sleeping in the guest room on the first floor. 

Me in my achy-breaky head:  OH NO, THE GIRLS!

I raced down the stairs, slow motion (this is more effective in the *forthcoming* movie version of this story) running through the kitchen towards the guest room. I was a few steps behind Mom.

Mom:  (throws open the door to their room) Good morning, girls. Chop, chop. You've gotta pitch in and help get everything ready for the pig roast. But first, TELL ME . . . WHICH OF YOU LIKES COACH SHENANIGAN? ISN'T HE CUTE? SUCH A NICE IRISH BOY. I KNOW ONE OF YOU MUST BE INTERESTED . . . 

The girls sat up in the antique bed rubbing their eyes. I stood motioning like WILD behind Ms. Matchmaker. Hand gestures that included:  *SHHH!*  * (hands in praying position)BEGGING THEM NOT TO SAY NOTHING.*  *hands slitting my throat to signal . . .  IF YOU DARE*

The girls:  Well, Mrs. Maiden-Name, we couldn't get a word in edgewise. It was your one there, Rin (their nickname for me, if you know, you know. My real name translates to the Ireland version of naming a kid 'America' in the States) - she was talking to him THE WHOLE NIGHT LONG. 

Mom spun on her heel. *more slow motion* Her hand went to the side of her cheek, eyes WIDE with excitement. She turned to look at me behind her, where I was now shaking my head in disgust with my friends who were twittering with laughter, knowing they'd done me in.  


Me:  Oh, Mom. Stop it. We just haven't seen each other in four years. We were just getting caught up. Don't be ridiculous. 

The rest of the summer, me to Pat:  Why don't you call Coach? You know, we need some of your guy friends to hang out with us, so the girls have a good time.  

Every time Coach met us out, he and I would talk and flirt the ENTIRE time. 

Finally, Pat snapped at me:  If you want to hang out with him so much, why don't you call him yourself? 

Me:  Fine, I will. *I still used our need to entertain the girls as my premise. 

One night I told Coach while we were all out at a dive bar called Morgan's:  We should take the girls to the Old St. Pat's block party in the city. They'd love that. 

Coach:  I don't know why we ALWAYS have to do things with the Irish girls. Why can't you and I ever just do something without them?

I was thrown off my A game. So, I did what I knew best - I got sassy:  


Bam. So it started with a dare. We've been together ever since. Married in '96, Kari remembers - she was at my wedding. When I saw my girlfriend in Ireland, the one who was in our wedding and who woke up in our guest room that pig roast morning, she was like YEP, I WAS THERE WHEN IT ALL BEGAN.

What'd ya think? ROMCOM-worthy? Anyone else barely survive a matchmaking mother? Guesses on whether or not our parents are still friends? 

There are some other funny chapters to this saga, but this is the foundation. Thank goodness those Irish girls didn't try to snatch him up, right? 

April 20, 2023

results, ANOTHER b-ball coach, grow a pair

Reg's AAU team plays in Arizona this weekend. Coach arranged his teaching schedule to teach in AZ the same weekend, so hotel room paid for. 

Great, fun, let's do this. 

In this story the we'll call Reg's coach, Toad, because:

1. There's a strong resemblance, you'll have to trust me on this.

2. It's confusing to talk about yet ANOTHER coach.

BTW:  The high school coach, Mr. Ego, has raised the stakes a notch, even though the high school season is over. He teaches Reg's AP history class. His latest antics are literally hard to fathom. Don't think I'm taking it sitting down. I'm on it. More later.

Why more later:  Because I told Coach, who could be renamed Saint as compared to the other coaches we're dealing with at the moment, that I was bound and determined to go to bed early and THEN we had ANOTHER heart to heart with Lad and THEN I announced that I had to write my post. Coach might unplug my desktop if I don't go to bed soon.

Why must I get some ZZZ's:  Because of the last 6 nights, I've had my 'issues' for four of them. I wake up and then my body refuses to rest until, well - it seems to be a gut thing. This morning at 4:30 am, I was ravenous. RAVENOUS. I had to eat. It's stupid, but maybe it's just my constant companion, also known as . . . SIBO.  




Aunt Leprechaun texted me to say she wanted to say GREAT NEWS, but that felt weird. It is great news to FINALLY know. 

Did you know that it's now the law that test results must go into the portal, even if the doctor isn't ready to explain them? I saw the results Tuesday at 7 am, called my doctor on Wednesday morning, and STILL don't have any instructions or prescriptions to fight this nonsense. I'm convinced I've had it for YEARS. 

Things to thank SIBO for:  (I think) my messed up pinkies that literally feel broken. My occasional screwy sleep. Weight loss. I also think that I've carried an extra 10 lbs because of SIBO. It makes me REALLY hungry at times, like I've just finished a meal and I NEED to eat. True story. 

Back to our non-GI related story:  Toad added 4 new players to Reg's AAU team, total of 12 players. Two too many, in my estimation. The new guys have a ton of talent. Unfortunately, this isn't a high school team trying to win a championship. Of course, the coach wants to win, so he can advertise his AAU team aka his 'business' as a great draw to college coaches. That's not how he sells his team to kids/families though. His pitch is LOVE YOUR KID, WANT WHAT'S BEST FOR THE BOYS, WANNA GET THEM LOOKS FROM SCHOOLS. I'M NOT IN IT FOR THE MONEY, etc.

A kid on the bench is not getting looks from colleges. Duh. Plus, yo Toad - I know what you are charging us and I can count how many teams and how many kids you carry on your roster. You're definitely in this for a HUGE profit. 

I cancelled my flight. Not gonna use 60K frequent flyer miles to watch other kids play basketball. Nope. Also, how much outside/pool time would I get if I was inside staring at my kid warm the bench? 

The bench. 

Coach is gonna be there. He'll be teaching and can only go to a few games. Reg will have to bum rides from other players/parents to the games from the hotel, but that shouldn't be a problem. 

Besides, Curly plays in Milwaukee. I thought her Windy City Classic was local and she could ask teammates for rides. I cancelled my flight to take her to Milwaukee - is this the new windy city? I'll be hoping that Reg texts that he got lots of minutes and scored a record number of points. If he texts to say that Toad ate some stale flies by accident, I won't be sad.

At Reg's last two tournaments I paid $45 and $35 respectively to get in the gym, 2 nights in a Milwaukee hotel, and hours WASTED . . . and my kid BARELY played. I don't trust myself - this coach is begging for me to get in his face and scream about how he's messed with my kid. I'm Irish. I have a temper. *you do know, I won't get in his face, but man does this situation steam me. I've had enough of coaches messing with my kid.

We want Reg to switch teams. He's drinking the Kool Aid. He argues that he continues to play against some great talent during practice, which is a valid point. Why doesn't Toad have a practice squad that doesn't travel? 

Coach and I wish that the coach had shared with us (and the other 2 or 3 impacted players whose parents are equally frustrated- their kids are at least getting in for a few minutes. Reg sometimes NEVER even gets in the game) that his vision changed since he acquired some new players. 

In order not to be a toad - he should say:  "Hey, I think the world of your kid, but I want to be clear he's not going to play a lot in games. I'm happy to have him stay, but if he wants to work with another team, I think XYZ team might be a good fit. I think highly of their program."

In the meantime, I reached out to a shooting coach. Reg's tendinopathy in his knee has thrown off his stance/body mechanics and his shot is inconsistent. Coach pointed out to him that he's practicing SO much, but if he's practicing a shot that's messed up, his body is remembering or favoring that posture/position or whatever.

Oh, it was 82 degrees in Chicago when I cancelled my AZ flight. Two days later, it was 30 degrees and snowing. Anyone else as surprised as I am that I have SIBO? The symptoms state diarrhea, which almost never happens to me. Weird. 

Good night. I'm hoping for 8 hours. Maybe I'll dream of squashing toads. 

April 17, 2023

purse snack grazing, joining the 21st century, & why am I not in Delaware?

I drafted this (along with my last post, but I split it into 2. Long winded much? Well, in my defense, I was captive for almost  FOUR HOURS) while locked in a freezing little room inside the hospital while it was 78 degrees outside. Ouch.

A little woman, who had to get me a heated blanket because FREEZING temps in there, popped in every 15 minutes and had me breathe into a bag. This test could rule out SIBO, or verify if someone has a future as a balloon animal maker. The nurse, who I noted is NOT the nurse from last week - perhaps that woman requested NOT to deal with the hysterical patient, took a baseline breath test and then had me drink some orange glucose stuff that was the size of a McDonald's dipping sauce for McNuggets . . .

No, I wasn't thinking of food, why do you ask? 

By now you know that I survived the SIBO test. While I waited for the valet to bring my car, did I wait for hours?, no - it just felt that waywhich is where my small cooler was with my DANNON CHERRY GREEK YOGURT, I dug around in my purse and stuffed tiny snacks into my pie hole. 

No test results yet, perhaps I'm supposed to check my portal. Don't get me started.


I made a ridiculous amount of food for Easter. Some habits are hard to break. 

I was grateful for the overflowing sea of leftovers in the various fridges at our home, because I planned to DEVOUR loads after my exercise in starvation SIBO test. BTW our guests were impressed with our dining room fridge.

*my fav movie quote of all time, quite possibly. 
From Wedding Crashers. It makes me giggle EVERY TIME.
Thanks to getyarn. 

On Easter, I shocked everyone and looked like a grown up woman. Welcome to the year 2023. Bronzer is not just for Irish dancers who leg tan- well, you probably already knew that, didn't you?

When Reg and I returned from Milwaukee for his AAU ball weekend days after our Ireland trip, there was a package for me from Ulta. I was confused, and grumpy at being held hostage in Milwaukee much longer than anticipated. My kid barely played on his 'showcase' team, which costs an arm and a leg and requires a HUGE amount of time. This team is not so much showcasing my kid, as it was ticking off his mom (and dad, remotely). Expect elaboration later. 

Anyway, I struggled to open the Ulta bag and the whole time I was asking barking at the kids:  WHO ORDERED SOMETHING FROM ULTA? No one knew what I was talking about and since they don't sell dog toys, I figured Lad wasn't involved. 

Everything clicked when I peeked into the bag. 


It was a retractable makeup brush - when did this become a thing? And a cute little bronzer with a mirror inside the case. Good-bye grocery store makeup offerings, free tiny blush brushes, and hello to the wide, wide world of real makeup. 

This was a sweet and thoughtful gift from my blog friend, Suz. I was tickled, and not just because Curly leapt into action and applied bronzer to my face on the spot - OH, THAT IS THE PERFECT SHADE FOR YOU. If you missed my makeup post, cry-for-help, then you might be confused about why I didn't know about bronzer. 

I texted Suz to thank her and referenced the rock I've been living under. She agreed, but graciously allowed me to feel blameless in my lack of present day makeup knowledge, citing that many of my people are standing on the rock I've been living under. She's a funny one.


My weekend was pretty chill, making me wish I was in Delaware. 

You:  HUH?

Coach flew there to teach a continuing ed course for the weekend. He asked me to go, ages ago. 

1. I wasn't sure of the basketball schedule. Both kids travel to games out of state. Reg more than Curly, but the schedule wasn't out yet.  

2.  My guess is I passed thinking that Delaware isn't a hot spot for vacationing. When Coach travels to AZ or someplace warm, I'm THERE . . . usually.

Neither kid ended up playing this weekend. Of course not. The weather here was in the low 80's which was fabulously, unseasonably warm, and I couldn't have predicted that. The clincher:  we had flights to go to AZ next weekend and today I cancelled my flight. *sobs softly* I'll explain the reasoning soon.

In the meantime, I drive to Notre Dame tomorrow - Sunday (I'm finishing this post Sat night because Sunday will be hectic). I'm bringing Mini's favorite dessert, Rocky Road Fudge bars. We are taking a page from Kari's playbook, called:  IT'S MY (KID'S) BIRTHDAY MONTH, BITCHES.

Also, I'm gifting the girls the completed photo banner thingies. I hadn't finished the banners by Easter. Preparing our upstairs for overnight guests was back-breaking. Quite literally, and I put the project on pause. Coach worked late Thursday (the night they arrived) and was in Milwaukee Good Friday till Sat night for Curly's games, so I was on my own 'staging' our house, not for sale but to pretend we are a neat and tidy breed. 

*I'm sorry/not sorry that I didn't take a before video. 
This is the boys' room - I bumped Reg to bunk
 in the girl room with Curly, so each of the 3 
college girls had their own bed. 

Between chatting with our guests (favorite activity), making all the Easter food, cleaning house, making dinner for our guests Sat night, driving back and forth to near Midway airport (30 minutes) where Reg 'played' MULTIPLE b-ball games, and having my high school BFF Drew (who I haven't seen for years) come into town and meet me for a drink  - well, the weekend was a blur. 

Anyway, our visit tomorrow is a surprise. I've been communicating with Mini's friend. My mom and Curly are coming along and I'm looking forward to it. 


Have you passed up a chance to go out of town and then kicked yourself? (really, I've been out of town -it feels like, more than in town lately, so it's FINE).

Do you have a favorite movie quote? 

Is getting your upstairs ready for out of town guests a daunting task? Or do you just not host out of towners? 

April 13, 2023

an Easter chat for the books, packing power to my plight

Our Easter gathering was small-ish. My folks, my sis, Ann, her oldest son, and Mini's 2 friends. My dad chatted with Mini's friends, M and Q, after brunch while we were lounging around, most people were watching the Masters. In my estimation, there's nothing more boring than golf on TV, so I read blogs. I thought I overheard my dad mention my brother, Pat, a few times. Later, I asked our ND guests if my dad was bragging about Pat. 

I made a bunny cake and the girls
decorated it. I meant to
sing happy b-day
 to Mini, but we forgot. Her
bday was yesterday. 


Mini had gone up to take a short nap in her bed, so Dad's intended target audience was her friends. 

Before I get to that, another tidbit that might make my 'situation' come into focus a bit better. . . 

I called my folks after my failed SIBO prep incident. I was still red and puffy-faced. My dad answered.  

Historically, my dad will pass the phone to my mom and barely say much when I call. I've been in their house when Marie calls them, and he has lengthy, involved, engaged conversations with her. Who knew lengthy conversations were in his wheelhouse? 

Dad:  WHAT'S UP. 

Me:  I described how I failed the prep for the SIBO test. Then I told him that we'd had a draining chat with Lad the night before.

I'd written out 3 pages, then read it to Lad. Coach had agreed with my notes and was there. Ultimately, we're urging him to try ADD meds to see if that might help him be more accountable, better at time management, less impulsive, and build better relationships. 






* I explained:  it's hard for children with neurological differences to fit into the world and that there was a FB post circulating that detailed how kids with autism, ADHD, Asperger's, dyslexia, etc. might put forth all the same effort as 'regular' peers, but often fail and become frustrated. They might not make teams or have friends or get invited to dances, etc. It isn't that they aren't bright, it's just that the world doesn't recognize their gifts and talents.



Me:  YEAH DAD, GRADES? I NEVER WORRY ABOUT GRADES (I admit to focusing on grades when Lad was a kid. I wish I could go back in time and rectify that). GRADES DON'T MATTER. I GREW UP KNOWING THAT NOTHING I DID REALLY MATTERED 

(*I wasn't brave enough to spell out exactly what I meant:  I didn't feel smart enough/didn't measure up even though I AM SMART by most people's standards).

Dad:  WELL, AT LEAST YOU STILL HAVE ______ AND _____ (insert names of my two offspring that he believes are my most intelligent kids).

Me:  DAD! DO YOU NOT HEAR ANYTHING I'M SAYING? (his naming of who he thinks are my smartest kids demonstrates the EXACT reason I felt the way I did  growing up. Because my test scores weren't near prefect, I wasn't enough- was never as good as Pat and Marie) 


Dad:  OH, OK. 

Maybe it was always best that Dad NOT have full-length phone conversations with me. 

Fast forward to Easter. My dad is chatting with M and Q. M has an Irish name, so she's scored points with him.


Background:  M, Q, and Mini 'vatored' me Thursday night when they arrived. 

Vatoring defined:   their group of friends hanging out in their ele'vator' lounge in their dorm where there are couches, etc. They have great chats there late into the night, and sometimes invoke a 25 minute study stretch, broken up by 5 minutes of talking. 

We talked until 12:30 am in my kitchen, and debriefed them on some of my family of origin background, so my dad's Easter diarrhea-of-the-mouth (see below), while surprising and alarming, supplied some context for them.  


"Let me tell you about my son. . . and his
 daughter, my smartest grandchild . . . "

Dad:  MY SON, PAT, (talked about his career, his pipe playing, etc) EARNS (enter a staggering salary figure, close to 6 times what Coach makes) WITH 8% INCREASES ANNUALLY AND BONUSES. 

    PAT'S DAUGHTER, MY SMARTEST GRANDCHILD, DIDN'T GET INTO NOTRE DAME, EVEN THOUGH SHE SCORED A (near prefect #) ON HER ACT. TWICE. SHE DIDN'T GET IN BECAUSE HER PARENTS MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY (her mom is Dr. Leprechaun and owns her own family medicine concierge practice). 

All I can say, well I can say A LOT, but really - this information, in my calculation, really packs more power to my plight. I grew up FEELING that I wasn't enough, there were remarks, behaviors, conversations, but it was difficult to nail down my parents'. Like, was I reading into things? I was always pegged as a drama queen for complaining about middle-child stuff. Then THIS. 

Now I feel somewhat vindicated. My suspicions/feelings have been confirmed/legitimized. In my dad's mind:  only really intelligent people matter, it's acceptable to compare offspring to one another, and when a grandkid doesn't have the well-roundedness to be accepted into the family-favorite college, then the only explanation is, well, total horse shit. 

Notre Dame doesn't exclude people for having too much money. They want ALL.THE.MONEY, which makes my daughter's near full-ride all the better, because they aren't getting much from us. How does my dad know that Mini isn't his smartest grandchild? We NEVER tell him test scores. Hmm. 


*consider who is doing the measuring, right? I know, but it's hard to not WANT to make the cut since that's been the marker for.EVER. 

My memoir must be published and made into a movie, pronto. Right? Because, sadly, I have to believe this story is relatable - or at the very least appalling/eye-opening. 

This is where you tell me how you marvel that I grew into the human that I am DESPITE being raised by a pack of wild dogs, being raised by parents who didn't see the talents of EACH of their children. 

April 10, 2023

memory, test prep, & a meltdown

In preparation for my SIBO test, I haven't eaten probiotics or my protein shake since the week before I left for Ireland. Two staples. On Wednesday last week, I headed to the hospital for the 3 hour test. 

BUT FIRST:  Wednesday morning, I took 5 kids to the grocery store. Not typical protocol, but I was unsure of how I was going to find time to make our house, particularly the upstairs, presentable to house guests. Somewhere along the line, I'd miscalculated:  Easter was 10 days after Ireland, and in between I was in Milwaukee for b-ball.  

Many people complimented me on the excellent behavior of the 5 little ones. I had one in the cart, and the other 4 followed me closely, single-file. If they veered away from me, they'd land in oncoming cart traffic. My secret?  They like to play Memory.

At the store, I'd dangled the carrot they always hope for:  

if you're good, we will play two games of Memory. 

So, they avoided oncoming cart traffic. One guy picked up a tomato, but quickly put it down when I shot him the evil eye. I bought a ton.  My littles were amazed at the heap of food in my cart. 

During check out, the lights flickered. The power blip sent the computer into a tizzy. We waited. 10 minutes. Nothing. Believe it or not, I still intended to run to Costco. What can I say, I was on a mission. I had limited time, because I had to be back for the 11 am preschool bus that drops off 2 more kids. You knew that I like to live on the edge, didn't you? 

Me:  (as they started to load my groceries OUT of the cart and onto a neighboring/functioning conveyor belt) So, I need to go. I can't wait for you to re-ring this. I'll have to come back after the preschool bus. I'm not brining these guys back in here, but you can come out and grab my credit card. 

They agreed to my terms. I bolted to Costco and called Becky. ARE YOU HOME? (she wasn't sitting that day) IF I GET STUCK AT COSTCO CAN YOU RUN OVER AND GET THE KIDS OFF THE BUS FOR ME? She agreed to bail me out if necessary. 

I finished Costco in record time, I called Becky: ALL GOOD, THE EAGLE FLIES AT MIDNIGHT. 

I unloaded the Costco food and brought parts of the 5 kids' lunches out to the car to get them started. There would be no unbuckling - I'd rather take a fork to the eye than unbuckle needlessly. 

Me:  We have to go back to the first grocery store after the bus comes THEN we can come home, finish eating, and play Memory. TWICE.

Well, the bus never came. Had I missed it? Normally the school would call to say HEY DUMB ASS THE KIDS ARE BACK AT THE BUILDING, YOU MUST COME GET THEM HERE. 

I called the school. The kids were out sick. COME AGAIN? The mom forgot to call me. I was coated in sweat, hungry, sporting CRAZY windy-day hair, behind schedule, and I still needed to go back to grocery store #1, curbside pay (which isn't really a thing), get the food home and put away, feed 5 kids remaining lunch, play Memory twice, and call the hostpial to ask which building I should go to. Dang.

I raced back for my groceries - melted ice cream, anyone? Was constant motion for an hour. Coach came home early. I set up Memory, gave him naptime instructions, and gave him a good start in Memory. He was gonna have to finish up. As I raced to the car, I heard a kid inform him of their bonus game. 

Me:  Oops, I forgot to tell him. Ah, he'll figure it out. 

I drove 30 minutes, parked, got inside and asked where room 1101 was (I'd called in advance), and found out I was in the wrong building. Happens every time I go there. Back to the car. Drove 4 buildings away. Valeted my car. Was now really late. Waited in line at the wrong place. Texted Coach that I was on the verge of tears. Got to the correct place. Waited for over an hour before they called me back for my THREE HOUR TEST. 

The nurses: Have you eaten probiotics? *No.* Antibiotics? *No.* What'd you eat yesterday? 

Me:  Huh? The usual. Oatmeal. Apple. Cobb Salad . . .

Nurse:  Hmm, well . . . you were supposed to eat a bland diet. I'm sorry, we won't be able to give you this test today. 

Bottom line - I screwed up. I set the appoitment up so long ago and I do have a few notes on my calendar about what to eat the day before the test, but I didn't remember. 

Me:  I love how this hospital calls to get my credit card, but you can't tell me which building to go to or how to prepare.

Nurse:  Well, you aren't on the portal. The info is on the portal. (later she informed me that they'd sent me an email. I never saw it). 


Regardless if it was a portal, or a missed email that probably looked like junk mail, I didn't remember, or get the info in writing - I just had a few notes on a corner of my calendar. 

Something was going to fall through the cracks, since life has been a tad distracting/chaotic lately. I was READY to eat my yogurt. I've been unable to eat what I want since 2015. Additionally, since October, I've stopped eating corn or popcorn. I'm tried. REALLY tired. 

I'm on my 3rd GI. I honestly feel fine most of the time, but when things go south - life gets a little dicey. Where will I be the next time I have an episode? Who knows? 


I sobbed until my face was purple and my eyes were slits. I couldn't get a signal to call Coach. I think the nurses were close to calling upstairs:  


Eventually settled down, mostly, and rescheduled for Tuesday at 1:00. Curly has to take a half day off school to cover my babysitting (she has a light afternoon). Today I can only eat rice, eggs, chicken broth, water, baked or broiled chicken. And tomorrow, I cannot eat or DRINK ANYTHING. Like, at all - the test is not until 1:00.

I might have to ask the toddlers to flip over the cards for me during our Tuesday Memory match, because I doubt I'll have the strength. 

Wanna make it interesting:  they'll never figure out my issue at some point (not SIBO) or I have SIBO? 

Easter was lovely, BTW - and my dad shared some great family non-secrets with Mini's friends. More later, but first I'm off to gnaw on my own arm. 

April 6, 2023

reddish-brown boots, my like-mother, like-daughter moment, & short Irish music video

These are my brand new boots. Coach and
 I posed on the driveway as the uber arrived
 to take us to the airport
These boots are made for walking. Armed with the knowledge that Mini fell in the mud in Ireland, I decided in the 11th hour that I should get some waterproof boots. I ordered a pair of Sorrel boots online. Buyers claimed the boots ran small, so I ordered 3 different sizes in a reddish-brown.

The array of sizes arrived the day before we left. I normally wear at 9, but I opted to keep the 9.5. They were snug but SO comfy. I called Mini and described them as I packed. 


Me:  HEY, WHERE'S MY CONVERTER (or whatever you call the plug thing)? 

She and Ed brought our 2 converters with them.

Convert someone to be more responsible, please. 

Mini:  OH, HMM. I DON'T REMEMBER UNPACKING THAT. *me rifling through my old study abroad backpack that she used for her trip.*



I pointed out that if she'd informed me that it was lost 5 days prior when she came home, I could've ordered another one. Grr. Coach had to stop at Mini's bestie's house on his way home from work the day we were leaving in order to borrow Bestie's converter. At least someone is organized and knew it was right on her desk.


I marched into Curly's room wearing my boots. She told me I looked like a Christmas tree because I had on a green shirt. 



The more I wore them, the more I realized that they are indeed RED. I still loved them:  'they're so ugly- they're cute'. Honestly I felt like I was walking around in house slippers in Ireland. I'd chosen to pack a second pair of Mary Jane sneakers. They'd go with anything, offer good support, didn't require socks, didn't take up much space in my bag, and were already beat up, so I wouldn't be upset if they got muddy /wet. 

*Delilah stopped by the day before I left and I ran through my pile of what I was packing. It's funny how she didn't really advise me, but I made some key decisions while she allowed me to bounce things off of her. Packing became much clearer with a witnss somehow. As I hemmed and hawed about what other shoes I'd bring, I was like OH, I'LL BRING THESE MARY JANE'S. 

Towards the end of the trip, as I started second-guessing myself for packing a back up pair, until an INCIDENT

On Monday, Coach and I drove to Doolin, a very remote, small town on the west coast - not far from the Cliffs of Moher. It's known for traditional Irish music. I booked us in a youth hostel the day before we left Chicago. Last minute, much? When we checked in, Coach looked a little deer in the headlights-ish. It was fine for college kids, but it was a bit stark for adults. 

Rainbow Hostel, Doolin

Me:  We're gonna be in the pub most of the time anyway. It'll be fine. Plus we have our own bathroom.  

*Not sure Coach will ever live down the night in Kilkenny when he requested that he and I go back to the B & B at 7:30 pm. It was NOT our first night, so no excuse. Tank's facial expression screamed:  WHAT NOW? We ended up staying out quite late and it was a great night. 

We stayed at the Doolin pub till the musicians called it quits, in other words:  LATE. You hardly notice you're sleeping in a hostel when you stay out so late. 

Our kids stayed in the same hostel a week prior and they gave it high marks. The music in the pubs was amazing. No surprise, several of the musicians knew Pat and Aunt Leprechaun. That's the way traditional Irish music circles work. 

*Below is a short snippet of the session we watched. The guy in front of me in the Rolling Stones t-shirt is playing the bodhran, Irish drum that Lad plays, but not the best angle to see his instrument.


LET'S HIKE:  The next morning, I voted we hike 5 miles to the Cliffs and then back. We'd stopped to see the Clilffs the evening before when we got into town, since rain was expected the next day. Coach didn't want to hike, but the kids had said it was beautiful and a high point of their trip. He agreed to go part of the way - not the full 5 miles. 

I wore a pair of leggings with my favorite pair of dry fit, outdoorsy pants over them as an added layer, along with several layers of long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts plus my raincoat. I don't believe I owned a raincoat the year I studied in Ireland. Just a winter coat and a windbreaker. Tank marveled at that. Same, Tank. Same. How did I manage? 

As expected, our hike included lots of mud. We were close to the edge of the cliff. The path at times was tough to decipher. Were we walking through a cow pasture or were we still on the trail? We climbed over a barbed wire fence at one point. I threw my raincoat over the barbs so we didn't get stuck. I felt very MacGyver-ish. 

Coach finally called it quits. LET'S GO BACK. I begrudgingly agreed, but first I pointed out that it was a beautiful day, had only sprinkled for a few minutes. I'd removed a few layers, tying them around my waist, because it wasn't crazy cold or windy. LET'S GO. 


Hooray. Yes, I'll take the deal behind door #1. We pressed onward. Really, we probably hiked almost the whole way there and part of me was bummed not to just go the distance, but I was glad he agreed to go further. The views were amazing.

From time to time we'd have to choose our footing carefully. I admit that I wasn't all that committed to choosing my footing carefully. Was it because he wasn't as excited to hike as I was? Was I trying to embrace my hiking decision? Was I overly confident in my red boots? 

There was a good deal of water/mud/puddles in the path and the grassy area next to the path was marshy. We got to an area that was PURE mud. Coach was assessing what to do, and I decided that if I just stepped lightly into the mud, I could make it to the other side and scale a bluff that was grassy and less muddy. 

Well. Life is full of bad ideas and this one ranks monumentally at the top of my list. The mud was less forgiving and more liquified (think chocolate pudding consistency, but in a bottomless pit sort of way) than I realized and the earth soon swallowed me . . .  up to MY MID SHINS on my right leg. I had no choice but to step with my left next to my right in order not to lose my balance/free my right. The earth made a meal of my left foot up to my shin too. 

Hard to imagine - but it was MUCH
worse than this initially.


OK, what dignity? 

Coach later admitted that he experienced a record breaking range of emotions in a 10 second time frame. He was concerned for me, angry that I'd rushed, worried that I was going to be upset or hurt, and also struggling not to explode with laughter. I burst out laughing as soon as I freed myself, and Coach then experienced total relief as he too bust a gut laughing. 

Repurposing the saying
My survival-mode self lowered my body to a sort-of plank-like position to wipe the mud off onto the grass. I then ripped up fistfuls of grass, using them to target other parts of the boots and pants and wipe away the thick mess. Ma Ingalls would've been proud.

Note:  unlike Mini, I did NOT fall. I got sucked in, but didn't fall. 

I was so quick to wipe the mud away that I failed to pause for a photo. I was concerned that the mud would seep over the top of my prized boots, so the first photo we have does NOT do the mud-bath justice. Fortunately, my socks and my leggings beneath my pants remained clean. No mud seepage over the top of my boots. 

I was so grateful that I'd been the one to swim in the mud. Can you imagine if Coach had agreed to hike further against his better judgement only to fall victim to a mud disaster? 


We continued to our pre-agreed turn-around spot. The worst part of my mud-ssue, see what I did there? mud + issue:  mud-ssue. The worst part was when I wiped the mud off my hands on a pile of grass. I caught a bramble in my thumb and my thumb bled. 

When we encountered other hikers, we pointed to my 'example' - really pointing wasn't necessary since I was an EYESORE. The looks I got. When we retraced our steps and arrived at the mud-pool, a young woman from Switzerland was trying to navigate the area. We directed her to back up, scramble up the bluff and proceed with caution. Then I offered to take a photo of her with her phone and the amazing backdrop. She was ever so grateful. She was alone and was only going to have selfies to remember her trip. Selfies are better than mud-encased boots, as far as memories go - but legit full body photos in the beautiful scenery are even better.

The mud he is navigating is NOTHING compared to what engulfed me.

We returned to the hostel, even though we'd checked out and Carmel, the owner, gave me Band-Aids and disinfectant to clean my cut. When we waited for Tank to get out of class later that afternoon, I used paper towels and makeup wipes (good thing I don't wear a lot of makeup and didn't need a ton of those for my face, right?) to clean up the boots. I had to wear the boots home on the flight since I wouldn't have space in my bag. 

Bottom line:  the extra shoes came in handy and the boots cleaned up fine. Guess what? They're now more of a reddish-brown color. Careful what you wish for.  

Stayed in a hostel? Been to the Cliffs?  Been devoured by mud? Do you subscribe to the 'so ugly, it's cute' mindset for something you own? Do you think this is what I get for laughing SO hard at the text from Ed when he sent a photo of Mini falling in the mud on this exact trail? Are you lauging with me? 

April 3, 2023

Ireland: photos, a city a day, & reversing

Rock of Cashel chapel

Between the stress of life and the distractions that popped up before our trip, I really had very little time or energy to get excited to travel to Ireland. I knew the trip was coming, and despite the fact that I packed a carryon bag (even succeeded in packing VERY light) being there was a bit of a shock.  

I was in Ireland! 

This was us:  3 Guinness
 for Tank, Nick, and Coach.
A glass of wine for me.
I hadn't been there since my brother, Pat, got married to Aunt Leprechaun over 20 years ago. I was 7.5 months pregnant with Tank then, and so gi-normous that the airline personnel almost didn't let me board the plane, thinking I was due any day and had plans to drop the baby on 'home' soil. 

NOPE, I JUST GROW 'EM BIG. Tank was born 6 weeks after our trip, a few days early at 10 lbs 3 oz. 

Anyway, Coach and I enjoyed our visit. I have stories. 

Tank and Nick - 
the Ring of Kerry.
Where am I? We stayed in a different city every single night for a week - which left me a tad disoriented a few mornings. There are mornings I wake up slightly disoriented in my own bed, so this wasn't a huge departure for me. 

Storing our stuff in our rental car made our nomad existence possible. With so much time spent mapping out and reserving Airbnb's for Ed and Mini's trip and a lot of time fretting over Tank's health and unsure which days he might be able to travel with us, I didn't schedule our stays until the week before our visit. 

With low Airbnb inventory, I ended up reserving actual B & B's using alerted me about what date I needed to cancel by in order to get a refund. Since I can use all the help I can get, that website has won me over. I'd wondered how actual B & B's operated since the advent of Airbnb's, and I discovered several were listed on 

*this sounds like a commercial, but I'm not making any money for getting preachy about them.

Daphne was very good to us.
We were supposed
 to choose a hot meal,
but Coach couldn't decide. She made
 him BOTH the porridge and the full Irish
 breakfast. He's eating the porridge here
 with a fruit mixture. She
 wouldn't take extra for the additional
 food request. Coach was in heaven.

We encountered lovely, amazing ladies at each of the B & Bs. Their places were very clean and comfortable. We were served delicious, hot (usually) breakfasts with GF options, and they offered great suggestions as far as where to eat or what to visit. 

Full throttle REVERSE! (bonus points if you know what movie that line is from) Coach can drive stick shift, but hasn't driven it in years. Add wrong side of the road dangerousness and I believe a few years have been shaved off of my life. When we got in the car, we sat there for a few minutes while he oriented himself, muttering under his breath several times:  drive on the left.

We needed sleep. We had to pick up Tank from the train station at 10 am. We landed at 5 am, but by the time we rented the car and the WIFI candy* it was about 6:30.

*this portable WIFI device rented at the airport was a life-saver, since our phones had no service. We communicated using what's app and were able to use GPS, and email during the entire trip. 

GF bread was common as was tea.

We drove to Phoenix Park in Dublin near the train station so we could recline our seats and nap until it was time to meet Tank. After Coach drove out of the parking garage, GPS instructed us to turn left. We turned left prematurely and ended up in a dead end area- picture a t-shaped road. 

The 'T' ended in a few little lanes that required a card to raise the gate - maybe airport employee parking? Coach had to reverse the car out of the lane. He COULD NOT REVERSE. 

There was an R on the stick shift, but each time he put it in R gear - the car went forward, much to our shock. Cars were trying to get into the lot, fortunately there were a few other lanes in addition to the one we were blocking. 

Coach had me google how to reverse the car. Um, that wasn't helpful. Finally at my insistence, he opened the door and waved to an older fellow who'd probably just parked his car and was walking into work. He came over, poked his head inside the car, noted our American accents, and said:  RIGHT? WHAT'S THE TROUBLE THEN? He reached in and fiddled with the stick and declared, AH, SO YOU'VE TO LIFT A BIT, SEE? YOU'RE RIGHT THERE, SO Y'RE. 

I can imagine the laughs he got telling that story at the pub later. When I studied in Ireland, our friends eventually admitted that they used to play a game called SPOT THE AMERICANS. Our white tennies gave us away. Today anything goes, so Tank has not felt like he stuck out as we did.

There were SEVERAL CARS trying to pull in by the time we sorted out reverse mode. Coach was about to explode. I offered to direct traffic. Coach said sure. I'd hoped he had a better solution. 

Room inside Kilkenny Castle.
 I'm thinking of
 transforming our family
room ceiling to this style.
I hopped out waving and motioning a bit until there was space for Coach to get into reverse and I waved him backwards. Note:  we were VERY tired. 

The 20 minute ride to the park took close to an hour. Coach missed a few turns, etc. By the end of our trip, I grew accustomed to saying:  OK, YOU MISSED THE TURN. JUST GO AROUND THE ROUNDABOUT AGAIN. There was fun to be had, but this part of the trip - not so much. 

I napped in the car for almost 2 hours. Coach had less success, but we got to the train station early and then WE SAW OUR GUY. It was great to have him in the car with us. He shared that he'd started taking the medication. I was grateful that he'd made that decision. He seemed to be feeling like himself.

We had a great time with Tank and his best bud, Nick, who is also on the program. They traveled with us from Thursday - Sunday, when we stopped back in Limerick to take them to dinner Tuesday before we headed towards Dublin so we could fly home on Wednesday. 

My travel buddies at the bar. Kilkenny.

It was hard to know if Tank asked us to go out of our way to see him on Tuesday  because he enjoyed our company or if he really just wanted us to treat him to yet another meal. Hmm.

Upcoming stories include:  stepping in it. Mini and the converter. And time spent with one of my bridesmaids, who witnessed the beginning of the Coach/Ernie romance. (If I haven't shared how the romance began, let me know and I'll fill you in - it's a good story.) Bridesmaid and I hadn't seen one another in over 20 years. Getting to see her was a highlight of the trip for me. 

Have you been to Ireland? Do you drink Guinness? Have you ever stayed in a legit B & B with breakfast? Have you ever rented a car and then not known how to work it?