May 30, 2023

Texas trip: I thought I signed up for 'getting there is half the fun', but alas

My sister, Ann, texted me the week before we left for Texas to ask if she and her son, Ben, could ride with us to the airport. They were flying out east at 12:30 for her youngest daughter's college graduation the same day that Ed, Dad, and I were flying to Texas at 12:00.

*Ann has four kids. She's divorced. Her youngest daughter has nothing to do with her father anymore. This was a chance for Ann to enjoy a college graduation with her 4 offspring without dealing with Mr. A** Hole of the World, who had a habit of hitting Ann when they were married. While it's a mystery how this poor excuse for a man hasn't gotten his a** kicked by me or my siblings, I'll give you one guess on who came the closest.

Coach was in St. Louis to teach a PT class and I had no other drivers available. I was like: HMM, WELL - I'LL LET YOU KNOW IF I FIND A DRIVER. I made a collage banner for my friend Becky's college graduate the week before, so she agreed to swap out a ride to the airport for my banner services. 

The plan:  Ed was gonna work out early before picking up Dad at 9:30. 

A not-drawn-to-scale, but fairly-accurate map:    

X (ann's) . . . .  . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . .  X (my humble abode) . . . . X (mom & dad)

                                                         . . . . . . . . . . . X(Coach's clinic)

X (A-Hole house) *I can possibly make his address available so you can send him stuff about how to stop being an A-HOLE. Just a thought. 

 . . . . . . . .X (O'Hare - much further north than I am demonstrating here)

I was up crazy early. Hello, SIBO - is that you still causing the 'stitch' in my side that interferes with my sleep? I have questions, but my follow up with my doctor isn't until mid July even though my procedure was in April. Very frustrating.

I worked out for an hour, showered, finished packing, and made a frozen GF pizza for my carryon before leaving at 9:05 to drive 12 minutes to pick up Ann and Ben (opposite direction than Dad, but Dad is 3 minutes from my house). I was ON time. 

*this is noteworthy, because try as I might - this is not how I roll. 

Ed's phone didn't charge so he'd stumbled downstairs upset that he missed his chance to workout. I insisted that he still go. "I'LL HAVE TIME TO GET DAD. JUST GO. GET BACK HERE AND BE READY BY 9:30." 

Ann, Ben, and I were halfway back to my house, where Becky was going to meet us at 9:45 am, when Ben mumbled from the backseat:  "OH. WAIT. I CAN'T FIND MY WALLET."

I glanced at Ann. "WHAT'D YA WANT ME TO DO?" Driving back to her house, was possible but that might screw up the rest of THE PLAN. 

Ann waved me on, while she spit choice words at Ben. I wanted to crawl on top of the car and adapt my arms to be plasti-woman, so I could be far, far, far away from the SITUATION.

I'd venture a guess, OK - an educated guess, that her Ben is the equivalent of our Lad. No clue how I'd manage a challenge like that without a grounded, supportive father to lean on. I empathized with her total frustration mode. Been there. While I drove, I grilled him about where it might be. 

He wasn't sure -  at his apartment in Indianapolis - a good 3.5 hours away?
Yikes. I can't even drive to the grocery store without my license. Is it me? The digital age might be messing these kids up a touch. 

It might be at his dad's, where he slept the night before. It might be in his car, which was parked at Ann's house. He had the keys on him, bummer -because no one else could access his car. His very responsible brother, Jake, was at his mom's house. He was flying to the graduation the next day after he attended a wedding. 

Ben called Jake and asked him to peek in the windows of his car to see if he could see his wallet. He couldn't see it.


Ann refused to drive big rig. She was gonna hop out at my house and uber back with Ben. SAVE YOURSELF. I told her to just stay the course and let Ben go back and look for his wallet. 

We got to Dad's and Ben started to exit in order to uber. I told him to stay in the car - I could drop him at Coach's clinic which was halfway to Ann's house and on our way to the airport. I told him to text Jake and have him come pick him up there. Jake agreed. 

After scooping up Dad, I pulled into my driveway to get Ed. Becky was chatting with him in the kitchen. I raced inside and quickly debriefed Ed and Becky in my kitchen. "SO, STRESSFUL CAR RIDE - YOU'VE BEEN WARNED . . . . "

At Coach's work, Ben hopped out to wait for Jake and we drove off. I told Ann that this was not within her control, and hopefully Ben would find his wallet. 

Ann:  I'VE BEEN PLANNING THIS TRIP FOR A YEAR (after graduation, they were going to plays in New York City, etc.). HE'S GONNA RUIN IT. 

Ben alerted her that his wallet was not in his car and he was driving to his dad's house, so things were still TENSE. Becky has heard of my family dynamics but never dreamt she's be in.the.thick.of.things.

While we were in the security line at the airport, Ben texted Ann to say his wallet was in his room at his dad's house. THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING. He was waiting for an uber. His dad wouldn't drive him to the airport. How's that for nice? Jake was on his way to a wedding in southern Illinois. Ann was annoyed/worried that he wouldn't make it in time.

At the airport Dad wanted a
 hot dog. There were
 no hotdogs to be found
. . . until we got to
 our gate, a hotdog stand.
Wonders never cease.

I hugged Ann good-bye before we boarded and urged her to play like Elsa and let it go, so as not to beat a dead horse with Ben all weekend. Beating of dead horses is, unfortunately, Ann's strength. She assured me she wouldn't.

As I buckled Dad in his belt, Ann texted to say Ben had made it to the gate. 

I was ready for a distraction from the Ego investigation, but this was more than I bargained for. As usual, there's more. Tune in Thursday for the next installment of the Texas adventure. I'd invite you to guess, but not in a million years could you.

What's your worst airport or drive to airport drama?  

May 25, 2023

 So much TO SAY. Trying bullet points to keep this post manageable:  

* Don't devil's advocate ME.  The principal escalated our complaint to HR, because Mr. Ego's alleged behavior violated the bullying/harassment code. Coach and I met with the HR woman, who I will nickname Henrietta, at the district via zoom. 

No pics 'go' with this post, but I cut the roses
 off the stems when they died and floated them
 in a bowl of water. So pretty. There
 were from Lad on Mom's Day.

Henrietta:  I have your email/complaint. (then she described the investigation  process). Ernie, can you come into my office to share other notes? It seems like you have additional info. 

*this after I mentioned that in a Family Feud game designed to review for the AP exam, Mr. Ego named categories:  'Hillary's a bitch' and 'F*** America'.  

I brought pages of notes when I met with Henrietta on Tuesday, May 16th. She asked to copy them. I agreed to email her bullet points, because my copy included illegible chicken scratch. 

In our meeting, she countered my examples, which I found frustrating. Is that what is done when one gathers information? It seemed like she might be trying to discourage us. 

 Me:  Ego said "We lost games because Reg was a selfish player."


Me:  Go watch film. Look at his stats. Ask his teammates. Explain how he was voted all conference. *besides:  not the point, you don't say that in a classroom AFTER the season. 


Me:  Most kids don't want to come forward because they are intimidated. *insert example of an intimated girl student*


Me:  Because she can see what he is capable of in the classroom. *smoke pouring from my ears*


Me:  Ego has laid off of Reg, since the AD told him to leave b-ball stuff out of the classroom. But just a few days ago he told a freshman kid:  you don't seem to be focusing in class, you know - I won't play you on varsity someday if you can't focus. *my point:  he has learned nothing, same old crap.

Henrietta:  Well, if he's being nice to Reg now, then why pursue the complaint? You got what you wanted. 

Me:  Our goal is to keep him from bullying other students, not just Reg. 


Henrietta (after I detail remarks he made in class):  Have you considered that he is being sarcastic? (as if that would be acceptable?)

Me:  Nothing he said could be misconstrued as sarcasm. He is blatantly mean. I can take this to the next level.

Henrietta:  You can choose to do that.

Me:  I'm well aware of what my options are. Thanks for your time. 

*these are only a few examples of her devil's advocate crap


A few days later when I forwarded her my bullet points detailing all of the nonsense, I  explained that I found her approach alarming- as if she wanted us to choose not to pursue the investigation. I copied the principal on my email.

She responded by saying that this was now a formal investigation (which I thought might suck more because it would take longer) and that she did not suggest, or propose, or argue ANYTHING. "That was false." 

So, I lied? 

Mini and Ed both laughed - ACTUALLY, SHE DID PROPOSE AND SUGGEST SEVERAL THINGS. Mini thought I should respond and add a footnote with a definition of propose and suggest. 

I didn't do that, but apples are not falling far from trees in this tale, my friends. 

I left the principal a message Friday:  why did Henrietta elevate this to a formal investigation vs informal. Was I being scolded for pointing out how off base she was? Also, I wanted to be sure that the team understood that they were not to interview Reg unless Coach and I were present. 

The principal returned my call a few days later - his mother is sick and is out of state. He impressed me during out conversation. He said HE opted to move it to a formal investigation, because during the process they felt it was necessary to be thorough. And, yes, he agreed, Coach and I should be present when Reg is interviewed. 

Unrelated, but fun pic. While I was sorting all the dishes, etc. from Uncle's house that is being stored in my folks' basement, i snapped a pic of my dad's train set. Pretty cool, huh? It isn't currently working. My tots would've loved to see it work. 

* How much?  Footnotes to our LONG, EXCESSIVELY boring ordeal. We were charged $3,500 for my ER visit on Halloween. How? The insurance company sent a printout of our health insurance expenses in '22.

We spent $29,500 or something silly. S.I.L.L.Y. And yet, we hadn't met our out of pocket, or our family deductible, or our something-or-other, so the $3,500 was legit. *insert sounds of me choking*

Coach and I realized, about 6 weeks into '23 -so too late to make any changes to the plan he selected, that somewhere along the line, our insurance changed. Same Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO, but now with new and improved loopholes so they can rip us off more. Coach says he always chooses the middle of the road plan, so no clue how we ended up in the ditch.

I filed paperwork with the hospital calling FOUL blaming our insurance. Could we please not owe? I got a letter last month. They've cancelled our $3,500 debt. Phew. 


I was relieved that we, the good guys, won out in bullet number 2, and my fingers are crossed that we prevail in bullet number 1. Do you know a Henrietta type? Has your insurance played a Jedi mind trick on you or your bank account?  Know anyone who collects Lionel trains?

I thought I'd get to share the many adventures, complete with plot twists, of my trip to Texas by utilizing bullet points. Alas, no. Tune in Tuesday next week (Monday is a holiday) for the Texas tale. 

May 22, 2023

daycare drama: rocky start, smooth sailing at last

We hung out at this cool place last
week. Rope bridges and ponds and
 slides built into the landscaping.
Remember last year's daycare drama? Recap:  The twin girls I sit for go to Goddard School three days a week. When grandma bowed out as their part-time caregiver, they split their time between me and Goddard. I'd never had a family use an actual daycare on their days opposite me, but out of my control. 

The twins got infected with Hand Foot Mouth on the first day of school and spread it to my daycare before they realized they had it. Wilhelm's cancelled my services because she was upset that the twins were going to Goddard.

Since Wilhelm left in mid September, I spent the rest of the school year trying to fill the vacancy. It was a revolving door of weirdos - neither family who started worked out. It was the year when Crazy quit, then Crazier called, and then Craziest (the peeps who insisted I wake their baby up at set intervals and feed him on a pillow on my knee even though he didn't suffer from cleft palate) pushed me over the edge. 

Good riddance. Financially it was rough. I was supposed to be socking college tuition money away  because, believe it or not, I don't want to do this forever. An open spot all year frustrated me from a I NEED TO MAKE A BUNDLE standpoint.

I met two sisters in April. Both teachers. Their in-home daycare was closing. It seemed like a perfect fit. I even gave them a bit of a discount, since they'd been accustomed to a state licensed place that charged less than me. 

They started in August. The parents are lovely. They follow the rules, pay on time, aren't overly demanding.

The problem:  one little girl. 'Alexa' She's 4.5 years old. She doesn't go to preschool, because they couldn't figure out transportation and they don't live in my district so they don't qualify for bus, etc. They said their older son didn't do preschool because of the pandemic and it worked out fine. Um, Alexa needs preschool, or a swift kick in the pants. 

She's smart as a whip. She's beautiful. She's a major pain in my ass. Well, she started out that way. I literally am here to say that I ALMOST called her folks and said NOPE. DONE. CAN'T DEAL WITH HER. 

My stomach physically hurt when she started her crying stuff. I even broke down and cried myself one day in the fall. I just couldn't with this kid anymore.

Guess who feels like they've babysat every type of kid and who couldn't imagine a situation that she couldn't handle? ME, that's who. 

I stuck it out and Alexa has settled in. I really cannot believe I'm typing those words because I never thought it was possible. 

She cried everyday. Her little brother is 2.5. He's easy-peesie. No tears. Ever. There was nothing I could do to make her happy. Making small people happy is my profession. I keep them safe. I entertain. I bring them on nice outings. I read books and play games. I dance around the table during meals and they die laughing. I pretend my kitchen is a restaurant and I take their orders for meals. I'm a riot, damn it. I inform them of the rules, soothe their tears, and engage with them ALL.DAMN.DAY.LONG.

I'm the bomb, if I don't say so myself. 

I started just putting her up in a bedroom and telling her she could join us when she was done crying. If we went to the zoo, she asked when we could go home. She tattles. She lies. She pesters. She orders all the other kids around. She doesn't nap - eek. 

I worried that her parents were gonna think that I sucked. Maybe they'd question whether or not I was mistreating her. The dad usually drops off and I wasn't getting a good read on him. 

Finally he told me that she is like that at home. Difficult. Moody. That sometimes she just requires time alone. Oh, I can give her time alone ALL DAY LONG. 

I'm not sure if they spoil her at home and just give in because it's easier or if she is going to end up having an issue like oppositional defiance disorder. Maybe she will grow out of her nonsense. 

It took a few months for her to settle in. I bought coloring books, so she could color during nap time. That helped. I made a sticker chart. If she wanted to color at nap time she had to acquire stickers. One sticker for walking into the house without making her dad carry her. A sticker for not crying, etc. 

After six weeks, she started arriving without crying. It was November, mind you. She and her brother are here Mon, Tues, Wed. I started feeling like Thursday was the weekend. Such a relief to wake up and realize she wasn't coming. 

Between sitting in a room alone upstairs and getting more comfortable with the other kids, who are ALL SUPER SWEET AND FUN AND PLAYFUL- not a bully or a mean bone between them, I think she finally adjusted to the change. She started getting my routine and learned that pushing my buttons is not going to end well. 

I drafted this back in November, but bumped it for something super interesting, I'm sure. The school year is winding down and I'm finally sharing it. Mini arrived home Friday. I can schedule things like mammograms and meetings with the high school investigator (set for Tuesday). If you consider that I almost quit Alexa's family despite how bummed I was to have an opening all last year, I think you'll appreciate how rough the start of this school year was. 

SUMMER . . . my break. It's almost here. Holler if you love summer and tell me what your plans are. Do you have job-related nonsense that you thought would never improve?

May 18, 2023

Texas trip take 2, grandparents' love story, garage sale guru, & an overlooked career opportunity

A Texas update:  My uncle in Texas has decided to move to Chicago. Much discussion and deliberation has gone into this decision, but he bounced back and forth quite a bit so I'm a little nervous. I hope that he'll be happy here. He's lived in Texas all of his adult life and he's 79. He'll live in the wonderful retirement community where my grandparents lived for many years. He'll be 5 to 15 minutes from most of my sibs, my parents, and I. Imagine - my folks' 22 grandkids can visit him too.

Shortly before my cousin took his life 33 years ago at the age of 15, he wrote a story about a boy who felt out of place in the world. This boy felt most at home and at peace when swimming with dolphins. Little Cousin enjoyed family vacations to the ocean. Uncle read the story at my cousin's funeral. As a result of the dolphin connection, there are MANY dolphin statues in their home. We suspect that this large one with a boy swimming with dolphins was commissioned by Aunt and Uncle. 

Funny story:  Both my dad's parents lived to be in their 90's. My grandpa was a confirmed bachelor. He asked my grandmother for a date from a payphone outside the hospital minutes after he was released having recovered from  pneumonia. She was his nurse, and a worry wart. When he called, and they gave her the phone, she was breathless, so convinced that he was having a health issue. Nope. He felt it wasn't appropriate to ask her out while he was her patient, so he waited to call from outside the hospital. They married a few months later.

He  was 10 years older than grandma. They died almost 10 years apart. He was something special and he passed away at age 93. I was 8 months pregnant with Lad, and I was so sad. I really wanted him to meet my baby. 

Grandma lived to be around 97. She passed when Curly was not quite 2. I took the kids to see her regularly, but in her final months she was in a hospital bed and didn't speak much. She occasionally groaned. At the end of a visit, I picked up Curly as we were leaving. Leaning over the bed, I told Curly to kiss grandma good-bye. 

At least this rug had people on it. Cute, right?
The ones with the zig zags made me dizzy.
 My bro and I were initially told that we
 needed to photograph and take notes
on each rug. There are like 21 of them. We
 started LATE at night. Weeks later when
 we got better info, we realized
 this was not necessary.
Well, Curly had been running around the room, not really aware that someone was in the bed. When I picked her up, she giggled, as in LOOK AT THIS - A GIANT DOLL FOR ME TO PLAY WITH. She leaned towards Grandma to give a kiss and Grandma chose that moment to sort of snap out of her somewhat coma like state. She maybe said BYE, but it came out very much like a LOUD guttural groan. Unsuspecting Curly was petrified. She shrieked. Coach and the older kids and I all died laughing, after we reassured her that Grandma loved her and was trying to say bye-bye. 

A big move:  Uncle was getting quite sad whenever any of us departed following a visit. His amazing neighbors and friends are a little upset. They'll miss him. Hopefully keeping in touch with phone calls and zooms will help. He does have cancer, so I think he anticipates that when things get bad he'll enter hospice here. 

My little corner of FedEx.
Ed and I fly down with my dad, on May 20th. The movers come Sunday. My brother, Pat, flies down Sunday. He will fly home with Uncle and Dad. I anticipate many humorous anecdotes surrounding Pat corralling two elderly men through the airport. 

Ed and I will drive Uncle's car 15 hours to Chicago. Coach and I are buying it. It's a newer model Ford with 23K miles. We'll transport the urns with the remains of all 3 of Uncle's family members. 

Most of Uncle's things will be sold at an estate sale. I asked for a few pieces of furniture. I'm getting a beautiful curio cabinet and a love seat and a chair. Photos to follow. 

Was I not supposed to
 pack table linens?
 But they are so pretty. And so
light. Sure, why not? Welcome
 to the mind of a garage sale guru.
I probably mentioned that Uncle is donating his Navajo rug collection to an art museum. Lest you think that all I do is bake, run a daycare, deal with a bully-coach, and attend basketball games - these last several months have also included my involvement in DOZENS of emails and text messages and meetings regarding decisions surrounding Uncle's care, the Navajo rug appraisal, or his move to Chicago, etc. I have not taken the lead on his care or his move, mind you, but it has still been a lot. 

When I was there in Feb., my job was to pack up all the china, crystal, silver, etc. and have it shipped to Chicago to my parents' house. This was before we knew Uncle would be moving here and using a moving van to bring a small amount of his furniture. I packed like 18 boxes and brought it to FedEx. Dad almost had a stroke when he learned how much it was gonna cost to pack and ship. 

More dolphins.
Did I choose too many things to pack? Perhaps. Did I have a lot of instruction? No, I did not. Did Uncle have a lot of VERY.NICE.THINGS? Yes, he did.

I later told Dad, THIS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THE JOB TO ASSIGN TO A GARAGE SALE GURU WHO SEES VALUE IN MANY THINGS. There are loads of grandkids who will soon/eventually be moving out, Lad is one of them - more on that soon, and getting their own places. Well, they can go shopping in my parents' finished basement for very nice dishes or glasses, etc.

Before donating the rugs, Uncle needed to have them appraised. Long story, but while doing some digging I came across a true Navajo Rug Appraiser. Friends, this woman, who we hired, charges $200/hour. 

Raise your hand if you are re-thinking your career choice? Wishing you could learn to appraise Navajo rugs? Me, too. Have I shared with you how our neighbors feel about our abundance of vehicles?  Yes, we are adding another to our fleet. 

May 15, 2023

If I only had a brain, you're laughing WITH me, right?

I'm a day late, but I do hope you felt appreciated and loved yesterday for whatever your role is in the lives of your children, or your family members, or your friends. Also, I'm thinking of everyone whose mother has passed away. 


I've had some brain power lapses lately. 

I won't be surprised if the Jewel strawberries that didn't make it home with me a few weeks ago eventually show up somewhere in my car. 

I went to the store last week. This shouldn't be a novel concept, but yet I don't make dinner as often with less kids home and I also don't have a regular grocery day anymore. This has wreaked havoc on menu planning and life in general, but I haven't corrected the situation yet. 

A few days after the grocery store, I was in the back of Great White, buckling kids in the way-back car seats. I happened to glance into the trunk area where I have a buggy. *groan* 

I'd forgotten to unload the $20 of chicken thighs and a bag of apples that I'd placed in the stroller on the way home from the store. The apples were fine. The $20 was lost, sadly. I wanted to kick myself, but my oops from a few weeks prior deserved an even bigger self-kick . . . 

Unrelated - unless we want to give me credit for having the brain power to walk to my parents' house and NOT lose any of the 9 children in my care on Tuesdays. My aunt was at Mom's and she LOVES little guys. I brought my peeps and a parachute and we played games with the two, delighted elderly ladies. 

When I bought Tank his round trip airfare to Ireland, I paid a little extra for a ticket that was flexible. We weren't sure when finals would be, or if he'd want to travel a bit at the end of his Ireland semester. My brain translated this flexible ticket to a purchased seat any 'ole day he chose to travel:  I'LL JUST MOVE HIS TICKET TO A DIFFERENT DAY ONCE HE DECIDES. 

As you know, there were distractions and issues while Tank was over there. It never felt pressing or pertinent to insist that he lock into an end of year travel plan. Finally he and I mapped out what he would do at the end of his semester. As I prepared to call Aer Lingus to adjust his flight, I felt a little queasy. 

Duh, it suddenly clicked with me. In order to change his May flight home in April, I'd have to pay somewhat last minute fares. I cringed as the lady shared the difference in flight. $400. Ouch. 

I texted Tank and told him we would have to split the cost. When I told Mom about my oversight, she said she'd pay for half of it, which was very generous of her. 

I took a deep breath and ultimately decided to let myself off the hook. It can't be helped. The good news is that Tank has overcome his mental health crisis with the help of medication and that he's looking forward to seeing Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Berlin before he flies home on May 28th. 

I wish that was the only brain fart of late. Nope. 

I got a ton of texts la few weeks ago on a Thursday, all at the same time. Updates on Uncle from my sibs, etc. I was busy and kept reminding myself that there was a message I still needed to read. I ran to the library after tot-pick up, made a few of Ed's banners, and then realized I hadn't made dinner. Dang. I mistakenly convinced myself that I still had time to make the dirty rice before I had to drive Curly to b-ball, which was the exact opposite direction of my college book club. 

I requested Curly's help to stir the meat and veggies as I chopped more veggies. She complained that the pan was overflowing, so I got out another frying pan and we dumped some in it. In the process a few vegetable chunks fell under the pan. Curly said something was burning, but I told her it was just the man-overboard veggies.

I was making brown rice. I was charbroiling brown rice without realizing it. When I covered the pan, I must've forgotten to turn down the burner. I was inhaling the smell of the chopped onion, peppers, etc. and I didn't notice. I could not believe I did that. 

We were running late for basketball - on a night when I vowed to get her there early so I could get to book club on time. I hired Becky's daughter to pick up Curly, because Reg and Coach were in South Carolina for basketball. 

As Curly got out of the car, I felt like she was forgetting something. I glanced around. Nothing. I had a feeling she'd be calling me, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. Two minutes later, she called me. 

There was no practice. The gym was set up for a party or something. Then I remembered the one text I never opened. It was from her AAU league's group chat alerting everyone that there was no practice. 

Now I had to bring her all the way home before going to book club. It was fine, not the end of the world. but this was one of those times I really didn't want to have to drive to basketball in the first place and it turned out I DIDN'T NEED TO GO THERE. It's 25 minutes from home. I called and told Becky's daughter that I wouldn't be needing her, but I'd hire her another time. Curly offered to hop out at the corner and walk through the church parking lot to our house, so I could shave off a few minutes to get to book club. 




As she got out of the car with money I gave her to buy a slushie, she thanked me, then stopped herself. UM, THANKS

I've got a few things on my mind, but it would be nice if my mind would agree to juggle the usual load and handle the new 'situation' without me doing dumb stuff. 

Have you done anything dumb lately? Did it cost you as much as a slushy or as much as a flight home from Ireland? 

May 11, 2023

LET'S BOUNCE THIS GUY: the issue & the letter to the principal, *plus pics for fun

This has been going on for awhile, (links to the start of the saga) but on April 17th when Mr. Ego, Reg's varsity b-ball coach/history teacher, made fun of my son to his face for being a bench warmer on his AAU team, I considered loading the 6 littles into the GW van and cutting our zoo visit short, so I could drag this creep into the hallway of the high school and pummel him. Many mind blowing things have happened. I think this email, that I wrote and which was reviewed by Curly's assistant b-ball coach who is a lawyer, sums it up. I sent this to the principal on Sunday night. I apologize for the length. 


Mr. Principal,

A random Thursday: 
7 littles about to run races.
My husband, Coach, and I have 6 children. We've had kids at Our High School for 11 consecutive years. With this written communication, we are bringing directly to your attention a situation of a teacher who is, and has been for some time, bullying our son, Reg, and want to provide you with background as to why we’ve now escalated this to your attention. Please let us know immediately if you are able to address this situation or if we need to speak with someone else in the school system. We’ve tried to follow the system as we were instructed, and this has been brought to the attention first of the athletic director and also the history department as the teacher we believe is bullying our son is both a teacher and coach at the school.

Reg only wore his new
 sweats a few times.
 Mystery how he got a perfectly
square tear in them. Finnegan?
We first discussed with Mr. Athletic Director via Zoom on March 20th, again over the phone on April 20th, and most recently on April 29th the unacceptable behavior of Mr. Ego in his role as varsity coach and his repeated comments about our son’s basketball skills in the classroom. We shared 3 pages of notes and examples during that first meeting hoping Mr. Athletic Director would use the information to appropriately address the situation. Since then, Mr. Ego took it upon himself to call our son out in front of other students saying he believes they lost most of their varsity basketball games because Reg was a selfish player. (SIDE NOTE: REG IS NOT REMOTELY SELFISH, HE HAS A HIGH STAT FOR ASSISTS, WHICH MEANS HE PASSES THE BALL OFTEN) 

On April 17th, Mr. Ego ridiculed our son. He called him over after class and told him that he'd heard that he was only a benchwarmer on his AAU team. This intentionally hurtful and damaging comment was unbelievable and unacceptable for a teacher to make to a student in class. I immediately called Mr. Athletic Director. Additionally, I called Ms. Counselor, Reg's counselor. She suggested that I reach out to the history dept. chair. I contacted Ms. Hist Dept Chair in order to alert her that a history teacher was bullying our son. Despite the fact that we've given a valid complaint, we don't feel that it is being addressed in an appropriate manner. 

I brought my supplies to a Milwaukee
 hotel and started to patch them.
For one, Mr. Athletic Director required that before he actually do anything meaningful to address this situation we first had to find other players and parents willing to speak to him to share their experiences with Mr. Ego as a coach. Investigating this issue should not fall to our son, or to us, as parents. When we Zoomed with Mr. Athletic Director we told him that we hoped that he would remove Mr. Ego as coach if he couldn’t act appropriately, because he lashed out at our son on a regular basis - an issue that was noticed by other players on the team. 

Mr. Athletic Director seemed receptive of our concerns and apologized since he was the one who hired Mr. Ego. He stated that in order to make the coaching change that we were hoping for, he would need to hear from other players/parents. Other players did come forward, one family is moving to Texas partly because they didn't want their son to have to play varsity basketball for Mr. Ego, having already experienced his coaching shortcomings when their son was a freshman. Despite the other accounts of Mr. Ego's issues, he has not been dismissed as coach or taken responsibility for his actions. 

Mr. Athletic Director assured us that our identity would remain anonymous when addressing this with Mr. Ego. During our conversation on April 20th, Mr. Athletic Director shared with me that something was about to happen, something that would lead to noticeable improvements. I believed this to mean that he was going to remove Mr. Ego from the coaching position, but that didn't happen. 

Ta-da. I couldn't find a fabric
close to the sweatpants' color -
 thus the shamrock. I suggested
 that we brand all of his clothes
 that way. 

Instead, Mr. Athletic Director indicated he had a conversation with Mr. Ego, reminding him to keep basketball related topics out of the classroom. Mr. Ego deduced that Reg complained to Mr. Athletic Director. When I asked athletic director if he told Mr. Ego who complained, he said that he hadn't. He said other students had similar complaints, so when he spoke to Mr. Ego it wasn't obvious that Reg was the student who came forward. Mr. Ego figured out that it was Reg because while there may be other students who deal with Mr. Ego's poor judgment, Reg is most likely his biggest target. After athletic director spoke to him, Mr. Ego approached Reg and said YOU KNOW ALL THAT STUFF I SAY TO YOU, YOU KNOW I'M ONLY JOKING AROUND, RIGHT? Nothing he said could be taken as a joke, not one word. For example, when he showed a Vietnam video just before spring break, he told the class that most of the vets interviewed had lost limbs in the war. Then he turned to Reg, in front of the class - so plenty of witnesses, and told him, SO Reg, MAYBE YOU SHOULD STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR KNEE WHEN YOU PLAY BASKETBALL. Now that he knows Reg has mentioned his torment, we anticipate another unbearable season with him as varsity coach and with the uncertainty that the situation might potentially develop into something worse. 

If it's true that other students expressed similar concerns, as Mr. Athletic Director stated, then why is Mr. Ego allowed to continue to coach?

Ms. Hist Dept Chair offered to have Reg switch to another history class, but why should our son be the one to have to make a change when he has done nothing wrong?  Shouldn’t it be the teacher who is bullying our son who should be required to change his behavior?  The switch so close to the AP exam/end of the school year would have put even more undo stress on our son. Ms. Hist Dept Chair initially suggested that Coach, Reg, and I sit down with Mr. Ego to discuss his comments. She stated that 90% of the time teachers don't realize how their comments are landing. There is no chance that Mr. Ego didn't know that his comments were mean. Ms. Hist Dept Chair then informed me that in the four years since she has been the department head, she has never received a call about Mr. Ego. "He's a well liked teacher." I pointed out to her in an email that children who are bullied are not expected to confront their bullies. Furthermore, if a student is bullied, is it ever acceptable to shrug and say, Sorry, your bully is really popular? Another student agreed to come forward to discuss the ridicule she witnessed Mr. Ego dish out towards, Reg - but she wanted to wait until after her grade was final, fearing that Mr. Ego would 'tank' her grade. Mr. Ego has made her uncomfortable in class with unacceptable comments as well.

When we told Hist Dept Chair that Reg wouldn't be switching classes or sitting down with Mr. Ego, we suggested that we sit down with him at the end of the school year. She said her offer was only to make Reg comfortable in class, and since that was no longer necessary a meeting wouldn't serve any purpose. She stated that she would handle the situation internally. 

Unfortunately, handling this situation internally in the history department with a conversation does nothing to protect Reg or any other student from dealing with Mr. Ego's verbal abuse. There is no guarantee that he won't behave this way in the future. Seeing as it is difficult for a student to come forward, it might be challenging to know whether or not other students become victims to his nonsense. 

Mr. Ego has clearly bullied our son. He's failed to separate his involvement as a coach with his role as an educator. His bullying behavior AS AN EDUCATOR is difficult to comprehend. During the varsity season, he often taunted Reg or threatened to kick him off the team for no apparent reason. Reg is epileptic and came home shaking at times, leaving us fearful that he might have a seizure. We ended up hiring a sports psychologist to help Reg cope with the mental challenges he faced at the hands of a coach at Our High School. Mr. Ego has crossed the line with Reg, and other students, multiple times. 

Our son's health should be a priority, as should the health of any other student who comes in contact with a teacher who is known to make cruel or demeaning remarks, call students names, comment on their ethnicity, and abuse his position in order to belittle, bully, or taunt students. By allowing Mr. Ego to continue to teach and coach in the school, his behavior is condoned. There are a number of students who are not comfortable coming forward. Not taking appropriate action sends a message to students that speaking up isn't going to matter. The school has an anti-bullying policy in place and we’d like clarity from you on how this policy is applied towards teachers and coaches.

Mr. Ego announced to the sophomore basketball team during the '22-'23 season, YOU AND YOUR PARENTS CAN COMPLAIN ABOUT ME ALL THEY WANT, I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE. While it is our hope that this confidence in his job security isn't legitimate, the fact that Mr. Ego hasn't been replaced in his varsity basketball role or removed as a teacher is highly concerning and we could not be more disappointed with how little the athletic director and the history chair have done to meaningfully address this situation.  We are hoping you will conduct a full investigation into this matter and we’d like to request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience.  While we hope this can be addressed and resolved in short order, we are also prepared to seek resolution through the legal process should that become necessary.   

Coach and I, together with other concerned parents, expect that Mr. Ego will be released from all coaching duties and teaching obligations by the end of this month. If you need to speak to other students impacted by Mr. Ego's behavior, then we encourage you to investigate appropriately.


After Coach and I met with the AD in mid March, we felt heard. We were confident that the issue would be addressed and that the coach would be replaced. That didn't happen.
Is it me, or does downtown
Bloomington, Indiana
 appear to have inspired the
Back to the Future town square?

Earlier this week, the principal responded to our email, stating that the issue at hand violates code #blah-blah (bullying/harassment), so he forwarded it to the district complaint HR woman at the superintendent's office, who we are zooming with today, Thursday, at 1:30.

It SEEMS like they're taking it seriously.

I've asked other parents to speak up. One mom said she'd urge her daughter, who is in Reg's class and who has been impacted by Ego's remarks, to write up what she's witnessed/been subjected to. Apparently Ego tells Asian students, I KNOW YOU GUYS WOULD RATHER BE IN MATH CLASS, BUT YOU'RE IN HISROTY RIGHT NOW.

Coach thinks it'll be hard to get rid of him because of the union, unless he sexually or physically abused a student. I say, what if he is a bully? I hope they bounce this guy.

May 8, 2023

Graduation recap: a stench, running late me, & so much fun

Ed and some buddies. Hard
to believe he's graduated.

Ed's graduation was a blast. The weather cooperated (for a bit on Saturday it threatened to rain during the backyard party), my liver survived the jolt out of its almost-never-consume-alcohol state, and I wore clothes that were comfy but cute. Thanks for weighing in. 

I wore the flowy black pants Friday, even though Coach HATES those pants. Many of you guessed he hates the tie-dye shirt. (I think Pat christened it the flying nun shirt). Solid guess. I don't wear that often and I also don't flap my wings regularly, so I don't think he even knows about the funky sleeves. Coach isn't really detail oriented, but he also doesn't do funky. 

My girls love those pants. I love them. Many of you liked them - I decided to override him. I ended up wearing it with a fitted, racer-back white tank, because of Mini.

Mini:  U NEED TO DO THE PANTS THAT DAD HATES WITH SOMETHING TIGHT. THINK BODY SUIT. U R SKINNY. OWN IT. FLOWY PANTS NEED SOMTHING TIGHT TO GO WITH THEM. I DON'T MAKE THE RULES. PEOPLE LIKE MAREAID DO. (that's one of her besties at ND, a fashion-iesta. We Shenanigan women play to our strengths, fashion isn't one of them. Killer Irish soda bread or chocolate chip cookies? I've gotcha covered.)

Also, body suit? Um, no. 

I was still hammering grommets on Ed's friends' banners when we were supposed to be leaving. Dinner was at 4:00. I scooped up a bunch of clothes and tossed them in the car. Sometimes having a closet at your fingertips is the way to go. 

A few of the banners. The
guys enjoyed them.

Oh look, a bin full of  Ed's clothes was in the
 front hall - easy place to take a pic of my
 pumps. He had one bin ready for us to
 take with us and will move
 the rest back soon. Not sure I'm ready
 for the mountain of college kid stuff.
I wore the navy striped dress to the graduation ceremony Saturday morning. Thankfully those navy sandals were open at the back, because the black pumps that I haven't worn in about a decade wore the skin off the back of my heels in the 5 minute walk from Ed's place to the restaurant. I was relieved we hadn't driven to the Airbnb and unpacked the car, because after dinner I swapped the painful pumps with my black sandals. 

See, running late was a blessing. 

Since we were running late Friday, we ended up parking at Ed's place and walking to dinner vs driving 15 minutes to check into the Airbnb, getting dressed, and driving back 15 min from the Airbnb. I'm not a pro at getting out the door on time. In my defense, I do ALL.THE.THINGS. As a result, I tend to take my GPS arrival time as a challenge - as in, can you beat this time? This might explain the year when I lost my license for too many speeding tickets. 

Gluten anyone?

Dinner, arranged by Ed's girlfriend's family, was at a nice Italian place. We aren't great at planning in advance, so we were happy to be included. Despite the fact that Ed has a bigger family than his girlfriend, she had aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. in attendance whereas only Coach and I were able to attend. 

There was nothing GF on the Italian place's menu, except for salad. When I asked if they had any GF options, they said they could do a cauliflower crust pizza. I'd eaten my salad at lunch, but ended up ordering pizza and a side salad. There were several FULL-OF-GLUTEN appetizers ordered and they were placed right in front of me, which made Ed shake his head and chuckle. 

Red pants at the backyard
 party, paired with
 my favorite tunic/dress thing. Wearing
school colors was a thing, so I
was glad I went that route.
I don't eat pizza often and I didn't want pizza, but after years of frustration while eating out:  I recognize that lowering expectations is key. Getting upset doesn't change anything. Those appetizers? Oh, they looked and smelled amazing. 

We went to a bar with Ed after dinner. Ed urged Coach to try a drink called Savage slap. Coach enjoyed it and our waiter enjoyed my request for a discount after I pointed out our ties to the drink. *wink, wink* If you know, you know. 

We didn't check into our Airbnb till 12:30 am. This place was very reasonable considering it was graduation weekend. Most places jack their prices up. It was a 15 minute drive to campus, which wasn't horrible. 

Before we arrived the woman messaged us to keep the fans going, particularly the fan over the stove, because she'd recently had an exterminator out to deal with 'critters.' 

A STENCH assaulted our nasal passages when  we stepped inside. It was UNREAL. The place LOOKED clean. The bedroom was incredibly cramped. The bathroom had a weird bi-fold door to the hallway/facing the front door, plus a door to the bedroom. We were glad that it was just us, because that bi-fold door didn't offer much privacy. 

I'm re-reading this now. 7 days? I find that hard to believe. Coach and I question whether or not we should've been allowed to sleep there. He keeps saying, I MEAN, COUGHING UP BLOOD IS NORMAL, RIGHT?

We weren't there for very long and if it was not midnight when we checked in, maybe we would've contacted Airbnb and asked for another option - but most likely they wouldn't have found anything else. I do wonder if perhaps we should ask for a partial refund. 

It's hard to describe the smell. Arsenic? I'm not exaggerating when I say that Coach's pent-up-after-a-night-of-drinking-beer gas was a marked improvement. Did we, blog friends, just reach a new level of familiarity? Why, yes, I think we have. Too much?

Saturday night we attended the most popular bar along with a ba-zillion other graduates and their parents. Lots of fun. At this point, everyone knew we were heading back to an Airbnb of questionable air quality. Coach told someone that he thought we were lucky that we woke up. 

Reg just got his SAT scores back the day before we went to Ed's graduation. It seems like just yesterday Ed was deciding what school to go to. Here we go again. 

Anyone else have shoes that were not called into service for awhile fail them? What on earth? Do you tend to run ahead of schedule? Or do you tend to miscalculate how long it takes to do ALL.THE.THINGS (like hammering grommets onto personalized collage banners)? Do you feel like your GPS is challenging you to beat the predicted time? So many cute outfits, where should I hang out next?

May 4, 2023

I spy Reg's mom, & vote for your fav outfits for Ed's graduation

On Monday, I bought strawberries at the Jewel, our grocery store. That night I wanted to eat said strawberries, but realized they'd never made it home. 

I bought MORE strawberries at Costco on Tuesday. Ever bypassed something at the regular store, like strawberries, planning to purchase in bulk at Costco only to get to Costco and find they don't have strawberries? I've been in that boat and this boat was a bit different - more like a cargo boat where strawberries abound.

Yesterday I spent a few hours at the library making banners for Ed and his people, but the heat press was acting up - messed up a bunch of fabric. Running out of time, I offered to hire Becky's daughter to run to the fabric store for me. She was waitressing, but Becky ran to the store and brought the fabric to the library. I promised to pay her in soda bread and cash money.  

Fabric purchase and delivery is an unusual favor/unchartered territory in our friendship until last night. You know you have a good friend when she drops off fabric so you don't have to stop your process. 

Becky watched my 1 woman sweat shop operation. When we walked to our cars, I told her I wished I had the Irish soda bread in my car so she didn't have to wait until the next day. I'd just baked it and it's so good when it's fresh. I filled her in for a minute about the latest in the basketball/not basketball related issue, which I will share in more detail soon. The situation makes me feel sick. It gives me knots in my already-messed-up gut. Layers. 

When I got in my car, I realized that I DID have a plate of soda bread on the front seat of my car. I'd intended to drop it off at another friend's house after the library, but I could easily have Reg deliver a plate there later. I fumbled with my phone to call Becky to tell her to drive over to my car. Deciding that would take too long, I honked. She was making her escape - not knowing I was Morris code honking at her. I sprinted, plate of bread in hand, and intercepted her just before she left the lot. I'm sure I looked ridiculous, only in part because Becky told me so. I FELT ridiculous. 

Next stop:  Jewel service desk. I opted to show my receipt for a strawberry refund vs grabbing more fruit. 

While I was in line, a few girls walked in and got in line behind me. I got the feeling that they knew who I was, because 1. they wore our high school sweatshirts, 2. they exchanged glances, surprised expressions, etc. I smiled at them.  

I was having a bad hair day, so I appreciate that
 they chose to focus below my shoulders.


This is maybe the 3rd time that kids who know Reg see me, ALWAYS at the grocery store, take a photo of me, and send it to him. 

How happy am I that these girls didn't capture my library parking lot sprint with their phones? 

We leave on Friday for Ed's graduation. I'm looking forward to it, but my contact lenses are giving me grief. I HATE wearing my glasses. This same thing happened when we flew to Ireland. After several days, the contacts were fine - but I don't have a few days. 

I tried wearing glasses yesterday and went back to contacts today - but the stabbing pain in my eye started again at 1:00. A new lens felt the same. I'm in danger of tearing out what little hair I have left. 

I need to decide what to wear to Ed's graduation. I value your feedback. *Coach and I went to a wedding March 11th. Who is good and responsible and would like to be the one to remind me to tell you about this wedding? Until then - the outfit I considered wearing made Mini say: 


I need:  

OUTFIT #1:  a dinner at a restaurant Friday with girlfriend's family, followed closely by graduation ceremony from the business school.

OUTFIT #2:  Saturday morning, HUGE all school ceremony at 10 am. 

OUTFIT #3 (more casual?) Sat afternoon party with food trucks around 3:00 at one of the guys' houses. 

So #1 and #2 dress is probably business professional, so a tad dressy. Weather looks nice - mid 60's and maybe rain Friday, low 70s and part sunny on Saturday. I'm not wearing it in any photo but know that it is an option, my jean jacket with any of these if sleeves are needed. White skinny jeans (not pictured) always an option to wear to bars at night. 

In no particular order, in part because I cannot line them up as I had envisioned. Bonus points if you guess the article of clothing Coach hates the most and which item I've had the longest, which I've had the newest. Thanks in advance for your input. Feel free to mix and match. Contact lens advice also welcome. 
(see below #2) cannot get this guy
 to line up with the other photo - 

#1 - prob not enough red in
the shirt to wear with these pants.
#2 - shirt has cool arms -
see in above pic  

#3 - would wear navy
 cami under this, but
 I was being lazy

#4 - flowy pants
and black blouse with flowers
around the neckline

#5 - navy striped dress

#6 - red is IU's color BTW,
with geometric shape shirt

#7 - Coach's photo work - blurry,
same tan spanx cropped pants
 with a blue top, Curly
says top is too plain.
#8 - same flowy pants
and pop of color shirt
#9 - I do like my red pants, they keep
 appearing, with a colorful blouse
#11 - these re black polka
dot cropped pants/capris?
#10 - I'm not this thin. I stopped wearing
 this b/c it didn't fit and when
 I put it on today I sucked
 in a bit too much,
trying to be sure it still fit

#12  - same tan cropped pants, when
 I wiggle into them, Curly
 called it a frog maneuver,
 same white blouse

#13 - black polka dot pants, different white sleeveless blouse. I think I meant to take this one back but I never did and now it's too late. It's longer than the other one. Can a person have too many white sleeveless blouses? I vote no, you cannot

#14 - rainbow dress -who remembers
when I wore this to Curly's dancing
 competition in Vancouver?