Pages

January 25, 2021

Yellowstone: timeline refresher

The Yellowstone saga continues. 

Timeline refresher:  We first visited Yellowstone in 2010. Curly was 2.5 years old. We've visited several other national parks, but Yellowstone was our favorite. 

Cue the HILLS ARE ALIVE music.

Reg in his coon-skin cap showing Mini the sights.

Mini - Curly - Tank

A few years ago, I made a reservations to go to Yellowstone with my dad. This plan took shape while I was in Scotland with Dad and my girls for Curly's first world championship for Irish dancing in 2018. I always thought we'd go back to Yellowstone, because some of the kids barely remember it. Dad has been several times, but he was anxious to go back. 

I learned the hard way that if you don't make a reservation the minute they open up in May a year BEFORE you want to go, then there is crap left. The reservation I got for July 2018 suckedWe would've been staying in what's called a ROUGH RIDER. A cabin with no bathroom or sink. Shared facilities down a path. 

Underwhelmed by the options, I still reserved the ROUGH RIDERS. As the dates approached, we decided to bale. The trip was too close to our trip to Orlando for Nationals for Irish dancing anyway. The thought of dealing with a shared bathroom down a path left me grouchy. 

May 1, 2018, I called and made reservations for July '19. They were decent reservations. Part of our stay was in our fav location of the park in frontier cabins with . . .  (drumroll) bathrooms. 

Then Coach and I realized Curly was dancing in Vancouver in July '19. It seemed crappy to take Mini for moral support and Curly to dance and leave everyone else home. We certainly couldn't do BOTH Vancouver AND Yellowstone. You might remember how I struggled with that decision. We once again cancelled our Yellowstone trip. 

So, on May 1, 2019 Dad and I manned the phone lines trying to get a top notch reservation for July '20. When we struggled to get a cabin at Tower Roosevelt, an employee admitted that the online reservations opened an hour before the phones. 

WHAT? 

I was furious. I'd called in advance asking stuff like:  how many consecutive days can we reserve, how many cabins can I get - we have a big group, etc. No one ever said:  ONLINE OPENS FIRST.

On May 2, '19, I called up and shared my frustration. The lady took pity on me. I mentioned that the park ought to be giving Dad first dibs on a cabin since his trip in June of '16 ended badly. 

2016: Dad travelled to Yellowstone with my brother Pat and his four kids. He was bucked off of a horse when a chuck wagon drove into the corral too fast and spooked his horse. If Dad had just dismounted because the 1 hour ride that he agreed to take with my niece was over, he'd have been fine. But they make you wait until they help you dismount. He was sitting in the saddle. One foot out of the stirrup. The other in. When he was bucked, the side with the foot still in dislocated at the hip and the hip snapped. 

He suffered a brain bleed, 6 broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and a broken hip. He required hip surgery. The doctors admitted to him that this was not the first time they'd seen major injuries from that horse rental barn. We learned the specific horse he rode had a history. Dad hired a lawyer (months later) and seriously considered suing, but ultimately he didn't. 

Coach and I breathed a sigh of relief that this happened on Dad's trip to Yellowstone with Pat -

NOT during the trip he took with our family to Glacier exactly two weeks earlier. Pat was framed as a hero. Coach just shakes his head at that mystery KNOWING that I'd have been blamed for anything that happened on my watch.

On our trip, Coach scolded Dad when he crossed a street to take photos of a bear in an open field:  "GET BACK OVER HERE. I HAVE ONE MISSION ON THIS TRIP AND THAT IS TO GET YOU HOME IN ONE PIECE."

Excuse me sir, GET YOUR ASS BACK IN THE CAR!

When we went white water rafting in Glacier, I made the reservation in advance. Told Dad to bring his book. Found him a comfy chair. After we all put wetsuits on, I couldn't find Dad. He walks up wearing a wet suit. "Oh, I decided to join you. The lady at the desk says it's safe." 

I begged him not to. "MOM WILL KILL ME." The man has a mind of his own. He was 76. Coach made Dad sit on the raft directly in front of him. I was to dive in after any of our offspring, but Coach was on Dad watch.

We all survived.

When the taking-pity-on-me woman heard that I'd be traveling with my elderly dad who walks all fucked up thanks to a Yellowstone horse, she offered an ADA cabin in the desirable part of the park where I had once again reserved ROUGH RIDERS. 

So, 2020 was all set. Dad had a cabin WITH a bathroom. I assured my children that they could all enjoy the shared facilities, but I planned to borrow Dad's bathroom. It wasn't the greatest, but we'd make due. 

YOU WILL NEVER GUESS WHERE THIS LEADS (like the most recent development outside of covid). YOU CAN TRY TO GUESS IN THE COMMENTS, OR JUST TELL ME IF YOU'VE EVER BEEN TO A NATIONAL PARK AND IF SO - WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE?


January 22, 2021

sweet and seriously short - a recent, hilarious discovery

Google Photos is mad at me. I hoard photos. I don't mean to. It just happens. I take a ton of photos and videos while babysitting. then I post them to a FB group for my families. Of course, I also take  photos of my own children, or piles of laundry to share with all of you. It's riveting stuff, making it hard to part with . . .. or more accurately: the delete photos task is just not on my radar. This has gone on for years. Now the photos and videos are making my Google Photos bust at the seam. 

The other night, I was up way too late because I was begging Google Photos to upload a photo of me at the volleyball game in my cute outfit. I bit the bullet and promised Google I would delete stuff if it would please agree to upload one lousy photo. 

We shook on it. 

I started towards the beginning of my Google Photos relationship. Like 2012. I stumbled on some gems, my friends. Gems, I tell you. 

I discovered that my children enjoyed playing with my phone when I was out for a walk, or in the shower, or wherever. I was UNAWARE that they were playing with my video function. Back then, I barely understood how to use my phone so I never noticed these video treasures. My current phone has a better camera, meaning these are grainy at best, but take a gander if you have a minute. We found it incredibly entertaining, but maybe that's because we recognize the goofballs featured. This might only apply to someone who has 'a mother's love' for them. Have I ever mentioned that the youngest four used to call themselves the Fabulous Four? They held meetings and made plans, etc. 

Note Mini scolding Curly because her girl always had to be perfect. Not sure what the Humane Society thing is, but they enjoyed pretending. Reg's sneeze gives the spying boys away. The girls don't seem to mind. Hello, who doesn't mind being the center of attention?


The fun continues with Reg as Max. Still not his real name. Tank shows himself here for a split second. None of us remember his cheeks being quite that chubby. 

This makes me wonder if this was the beginning of the sock obsession that Reg has? I don't remember him trying to pay me back, or being aware of how much they cost. My dad took us to a special dinner for alums after the game. A meal out? You know my children will be impressed with that. Note the cooler in the kitchen when Reg pans the room in his shaky way. Guessing we got back late from the game. Or, that was just how we lived back then, because now we are just as neat and tidy as they come.                                                                                                                                 

If this bores you, take a pass and just know that we were howling as we tried to piece together what was going on. It looks like my kids raised themselves. That explains a lot.             

January 20, 2021

re-framing normal, words weren't his and sanity was ours

A few of you commented that you might miss the drama if all of my families are normal this year. Rest assured, the families are generous with me, appreciative, and I like them . . . most of the time. Allow me to re-frame 'normal' and assure you that there will be plenty of head scratching this year. 

I believe I once referred to the absent-since-early-November guy as World's Worst Baby. Well, he turned 2 in October. I will call him William in place of World's Worst, not because he deserves to ditch that label. It's easier to type. 

As a baby, he didn't like his formula's taste. He had allergies. I was the only one who could get him to drink it. The dad came here for a lesson. 

Me:  WELL I DON'T SIT. I SWADDLE HIM AND I SING TO HIM. I DON'T LOOK HIM IN THE EYE. I NEVER LET MY HEELS TOUCH THE GROUND. CONSTANT MOTION. *This is no joke. 

The dad is a goof. A few months later he asked me if I had an iPhone. When I said no, he was like OH THAT'S TOO BAD, BECAUSE I SHOW HIM VIDEOS ON MY PHONE IN ORDER TO GET HIM TO EAT. 

My thoughts:

A) you need to stop doing that

B) my android is a smartphone, moron. It plays videos just as easily as yours. (This man is a device/video game junkie- how did he not know about an android? His older son had two phones that were HIS as a kindergartner. Don't get me started.)

C) William developed a hatred for food, they say this stems from a bad eating experience i.e.: disliking his formula. He'd scream constantly. I got death stares from people last fall when we went to places because it appeared that I was torturing him. I finally told his parents that he was hungry. Um, I was right. But he had to go to therapy to learn how to eat. In case you didn't know, this is a thing. 

So this family is still here, and while they are very generous- paying me during the pandemic (when we were locked down and they couldn't bring him) and grateful in recognizing that I've helped William a lot, they aren't mainstream types, in my humble opinion. Not deal-breaking issues, but sometimes irritating: 

A) They rarely show up at the designated drop off time OF THEIR CHOOSING, which makes my life a little hard. They are often over 40 minutes late. I hesitate to lay the twins down for naps, because while it doesn't take long, I prefer to be in the kitchen when a kid arrives. Same goes with sitting on the couch feeding a baby a bottle. Should I start the bottle NOW? Or are they going to drop off in 2 minutes and interrupt the bottle in order for me to welcome Mr. Tears?

B) They're almost ALWAYS late to pick up. She's not a teacher, so she picks up later, around 4:30.  She asks often if her kid can stay later than he's supposed to stay - like beyond 4:30 or 5. *editing to add, at the risk of lengthening this:  she texted me this afternoon - "Can William stay till 5:00 or do you want his dad to come get him?" Like why is that even a question - if the dad could get him on time, why wouldn't you just send him over (they work from home, a 2 min drive from my house) rather than ask me a favor?  

C) They can't say no to him. And they wonder why he cries when they drop him off here in the land of WHAT ERNIE SAYS GOES. (this is why Coach often says, YOU'RE THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO THESE KIDS)

EXHIBIT A:  This morning, William's mom told me that he had a toy from home in his hand (I don't allow toys from home because I don't want to keep track of them - most families tend to forget this and I honestly haven't done a reminder message in a while). It wasn't just a no-brainer matchbox car but a part of a set he had at home. She said:   I COULND'T GET IT AWAY FROM HIM. She wanted me to snatch it as soon as he put it down.  

I'm sorry, but . . .  WHAT I JUST HEARD YOU SAY IS THAT YOUR 2 YEAR OLD IS STRONGER THAN YOU ARE AND THAT YOU'RE UNABLE TO PRY THAT TRAIN CAR FROM HIS GRIP. I do get the 'pick you battles' thing and that two year olds are tough, but lay. down. the. damn. law. Some parents just make things harder later (steps off soap box and kicks it out of the way).

So last week, William came back after a 2 month break/quarantine. We braced for his arrival, assuming he'd scream and throw a fit. Like all the other kids who cry when they arrive, they are fine in seconds- usually. William can linger with his tears, so I warned my kids who were still on break:  DON'T EXPECT TO SLEEP IN.

And then . . . he cried on the driveway, but he stopped when he came inside. Head on Mom's shoulder, acting like he was shy. Tank dragged the toy kitchen set out of storage in the basement in advance so there was something new and exciting in the family room. Diversions:  my secret weapon. 

Me:  (taking him from her) WE MISSED YOU. White lies are acceptable in my line of work, by the way. I put him on the floor in the family room. He instantly ran to his favorite drawer of trains. 

He picked up the Little People bus that was already on the floor. His mom said he'd been talking about this bus. Last time we saw him he had very few words. 

Slowly I turned. Step by step. I inched my way back to the kitchen. That's when I heard it  . . . 

YELLOW BUS. YELLOW BUS. YELLOW BUS. YELLOW BUS. YELLOW BUS. 

William playing with the minivan AND the
YELLOW BUS back in August when words weren't his and sanity was ours.
Is it me, or does this phrase belong on a t-shirt?

I froze. Curly was eating breakfast at the island. Her eyebrows shot up. We were both like OMG! NOOOOO!

Young William must, and I mean MUST, show you the toy he might play with and repeat the name of it 1,000 times until you acknowledge said toy. He sort of did this with colors starting in the fall. 

Mini babysits for William and his brother on weekends. These two boys are 100% screen addicts. Once the folks wheeled a big screen TV into the living room. Baby (keyword here) William was getting teeth, they told Mini. He was fussy, so they put his shows on in the family room. So that the older son wouldn't be stuck without HIS shows, they set up the other TV for him. Mind blown.

I assume that the dad 'taught' William his colors by playing the same video over and over again - on his prized iPhone, till he was like a robot, because in the fall he'd hold up a toy and repeat the color in not-so-clear speech but he'd NEVER play with it. 

The goof dad came to pick up last week and was like: SO DIFFERENT KID, HUH? HE'S REALLY TALKINKG A LOT.

Me:  YEAH, REGGIE WAS LIKE 'HI WILLIAM' AND WILLIAM SAID BACK TO REG 'HI WILLIAM' .

*I so badly wanted to say, YEAH, HE'S CLEARLY GIFTED. GET HIM REGISTERED FOR HARVARD. Followed by:  MY KIDS STOPPED CRAPPING IN THEIR PANTS AT 18 MOS. HE'S OVER 2. GIVE THAT TASK SOME ATTENTION. 

*full disclosure:  not all of my kids had the poop in the potty mastered by 18 mos, but we were working on it and most were done, if not close. They call it TRAINING for a reason. 

*I know it's my hang-up, but parents rarely TRY to get a kid potty trained until they're almost flipping 3. WHY??? By that time, they can practically change their own damn diaper. You know when a perfect time to potty train is? During a pandemic when you aren't leaving the house. 

A week later, he's still on constant repeat. I know repetition might be a stage, but LAWDY it's the worst. The other 2 year old I sit for is younger than William, and he can respond to a YES/NO question without just repeating it. As in:  DO YOU WANT TO READ THE TRAIN BOOK? William repeats it back. 

It's exhausting. 

Reg finds the repeating a greeting thing so funny, that he greets William a million times. It never gets old, for Reg. Will the real 2 year old please step forward? 

Since this family has been so generous with me, I feel awkward correcting stuff like showing up late at pick up, forgetting to knock on the door (yes, they are falling into this habit too!), bringing their own toys, or not giving me a set drop off time. The mom IS very nice and if it gets super annoying, I guess I'll approach her.

This isn't horrible - no where near Narcey, but the drama DOES exist, maybe more frustration than actual drama. I hope you're happy. (I had another smallish story about another family who I ADORE, but going over my self-imposed word limit . . . more later).

Coming Friday . . . a memory capsule just discovered accidentally, I didn't even know it existed. Half the size of a normal post, perfect for your busy Friday. 


January 18, 2021

random pandemic musings you won't want to miss

Is it just  me, or are other people concerned about the future of breath mint companies? I am usually heavily reliant on breath mints. This stems from growing up in a house where I was constantly told that I had bad breath. (Do you hear that? It's my readers celebrating the fact that we are friends on the blogosphere where bad breath is not offensive. Well, I heard it).

Anyway, how are the breath mint companies getting by? Can someone check on them? I can't imagine there is much demand for their product right now, seeing as masks are shielding anyone in public from both stinky breath and delightfully minty breath. Just a thought. 

I have no good photos to go with this post, but this is what I wore Sunday when I made a meatloaf. Washed the sheets on all the beds including baby portable cribs. Attended Tank's travel volleyball games (seen here) with Coach. Ate dinner at home with everyone and then Coach and I attended Curly's travel basketball games. Then wrote this post. This was a busy day for a pandemic. I opted to wear my new long-ish sweater and leggings and my brown boots. Riveting, I know. But one doesn't leave the house much and isn't this sweater cute? I already had the leggings and what a great match.

Also, it has occurred to me that my position as head sniffer at my in-home daycare might become challenging if I test positive AND lose my sense of smell. How would I manage to identify poops without my nose to guide me? I'd be wrestling little people all day to physically peek inside their diapers. This could add to my sweat-a-rama factor. 

Curly shared a little e-learning secret with me recently. She admitted that when she doesn't know the answer to a question, she freezes. She doesn't move. This, she hopes, leads her teacher to believe that her screen is frozen. The message she hopes to send:  MOVE ON TO THE NEXT STUDENT, I'M FORZEN HERE. 

She also confided in me that Mini tried the same tactic, but was busted BECAUSE THE CEILING FAN IN THE BACKGROUND DIDN'T GET THE MEMO. IT CONTINUED TO SPIN. The teacher was like, UM, MINI YOU AREN'T FROZEN. GO AHEAD AND TRY TO ANSWER THE QUESTION.

As the proud Mama of my kids trying to beat the system in these trying times, I just gotta quote Wedding Crashers here:  I'M NOT  JUDGING  YOU CAUSE I THINK YOU'RE AN INNOVATOR.  (click the words to go to the link of that tiny bit of the movie, if you are so inclined)

In other pandemic notes, I will admit that I'm 'THAT' lady. You know the one, she scolds a punk-ass teenager at Costco. 

It happened just before Christmas. This 'I THINK I'M ALL THAT' teen wasn't wearing his mask. It was dangling below his chin, where it was doing no one any good. He walked around like he had a stick up his butt, like he was better than everyone he ever met. 

This made me want to ask him:  So, if you're as cool as you want everyone to think you are, then why are you shopping at Costco with your mom? 

In my brief time of observing him, I was confident that he wasn't a kid who struggled with some kind of developmental delay that might interfere with his ability to wear a mask. He was simply suffering from macho-man fa├žade shit. 

Don't get me wrong, I love when any of my kids accompany me to the store. I enjoy the 'split the list' strategy. But my kids don't carry themselves like they're superior beings. AND my kids follow the rules, like wearing masks. 

Do you know what's hard lately? Trying to open the plastic bags for raw meat packages at Costco. I can't lick my finger to help me in separating the two sides of the slippery bag. 

So, as I stood there struggling with the bag, I see Mr.Hot-shot walk by, mask not in place. I was still standing there struggling with the bag that refused to open (I've gotten better at this by the way - if I rub the bag back and forth crazy fast, friction usually saves the day. I'm sorry I don't have a video of me looking dumb doing this, but believe me, I look dumb) when he and his mom walked back from the opposite direction. 

He knew I was staring at him, trying to decide if I should say something. He turned to me and smiled. directly. in. my face. It was one of those: 

I-got-popcorn-at-the-movie-theater-and-you-didn't  little kid smiles.

No, I don't have issues from being deprived movie popcorn as a child. Why do you ask? 

Maybe it was the former substitute teacher in me. Or the part of me that had no problem correcting other people's punk-ass kids at the swimming pool when they invaded the baby pool because the big kid pool was closed for adult swim,  . . but I went ahead and got bossy: 

Me:  WHY DON'T YOU PUT ON YOUR MASK LIKE EVERYONE ELSE?

Mr. Hotshot:  WHAT?

Me:  YOU HEARD ME. WHY AREN'T YOU WEARING YOUR MASK LIKE EVERYONE ELSE?

Mr. Hotshot:  WHAT'D YOU WORK FOR COSTCO NOW? this implies that he knows me and that he knows where I work, which I found strange. 

Mr. Hotshot's mom:  (SNORT) ARE YOU SERIOUS?

They walked away. Since they didn't know me, they couldn't have understood that this was not over. I approached a maintenance man who worked at Costco. I told him that a teenager was refusing to wear his mask. He asked me WHERE? And I was more than happy to supply him with the info:  TALL KID, WHITE HOODIE.OVER THERE. I pointed Mr. Hot-shot's head bobbing above the crowd. Another shopper gave me a firm nod. Even though she was masked, I believe the nod was saying:  YOU GO GIRL! 

The next time I saw Mr. Hot-shot his mask was covering his not-so-smug face. Although I was tempted, I refrained from weaving through shoppers to catch up to he and his bitch mom and say something adult-ish like:  HA, LOOKS LIKE MR. MAINTENANCE MAN TOLD YOU. HOW'R YOU FEELING NOW, MR. HOT-SHOT?

I have my limits. *sometimes* 

Ernie for the win. 

You know what doesn't feel like a win . . . Tank missing his senior year. I still recall my silly self thinking that they'd cancel school for a few weeks in March and this would all be over. Quickly. Then I felt horrible for the seniors, who missed a few months of school, prom, etc. 

This year's seniors are missing EVERYTHING. Tank is so incredibly bummed. He's the leader of the spirit troop - the kids who scream crazy rants in the crowd during home football and basketball games follow his lead. He goes to school in person a few days a week, but lunch is kids sitting far apart, facing the same direction. Assigned seats. He's missing a year that should be chock full of fun memories. 

I'm not gonna lie, it's breaking my heart. His is breaking more. 

Who do you feel the most sorry for in your family or group of friends during the pandemic? And have you confronted a non-mask wearer, or am I the only nut job here? Or even, favorite breath mint? Have you faked being frozen or other tech difficulties to avoid a Zoom? 

I live for comments people, that and scolding teenage boys who tick me off. So please don't be shy, you're in good company. 


January 15, 2021

talent and I'd put that on a t-shirt

Ann, my sister, is an amazing artist. As a kid, I used to follow her around and try to draw the still life stuff she set up. I wanted to draw like her. Shit, I would've settled for her art supplies. The real deal. 

In high school, she took classes at the Chicago Art Institute. Dad told her he wouldn't pay for someone to draw pictures in college. She's a nurse. 

Even though Mom told Ann that imitation was the highest form of flattery, Ann sneered at me. Chased me away. Hollered for Mom if I tried to watch what she was doing. Shock. 

I can draw a little bit (Dad's aunt was an artist), but not as well as Ann. I sketched each of our kids when they were babies. Lad's sketch was done while he was sleeping, because eyes are easier to draw when closed. That's the kind of artist I am, "Excuse me Mona Lisa, can you just close those wide-set eyes of yours?"

I scanned my sketches onto the front of my baptismal invitations. It was like a postcard. The flipside had the invite details. My MIL hung the invitation on her fridge facing the sketch towards the fridge and the wording, that was no longer relevant because the baptism had come and gone like years earlier, faced out for people to 'admire'?  When we visited their house, I flipped the invitation over so my sketch was visible. God forbid we highlight someone's attempt at talent verses the word baptism. *sigh*

These little faces decorate the upstairs hallway. Ed's frame is the very light sketch. I think I was afraid to make a mistake.
Anyway, Mini has a gift. She's amazing. 

The other day, I went into the girls' room and I saw a sketch on Mini's desk. Over break, she should've done ACT prep work. It wasn't on my radar. I was a little annoyed that she was in her room so much. Then I saw this sketch. Oh. Wow. 

Timothee Chalamet


She also did the bird (below) with markers that the girls got for Christmas. You can blend them and stuff. They were really pricey, so they better do some blending and maybe clean the girls room too. She was ticked that she added the fish in the bird's beak, because well that fish didn't turn out so great and she felt it ruined the whole thing. 

Oh, if it weren't for that dang fish
that looks more like a dog's bone.

Ed just saw the sketch of the actor tonight. He was like:  MINI YOU SHOULD PUT THIS ON INSTAGRAM AND SELL YOUR STUFF. 

Mini:  I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT. 

Tank's talent - not often seen on canvas. He has more comedic talent. This 'funny' that he made was somewhat unintentional, but I'm lumping it in here with Mini's art talent because it struck me as hilarious and I'm counting it as the same theme.

The kids have been sort of complaining about how Coach grills. The man has a phobia of germs. He should never be allowed near raw meat. He practically wears a hazmat suit when he encounters it. Translation:  he tends to overcook stuff. 

The kids were embarrassed because I sort of outed the issue. They've been telling me that he needs some new grilling techniques. I, ahem, mentioned their thoughts . . . in a round about way while covering true identities of the haters (of his grilling). They shot me daggers. But really, it ended up being a very good conversation where we all openly discussed our thoughts on Coach's grilling and because I'm always open game- my tendency to overuse certain recipes in my fabulous rotation of outstanding meals. 

YOU'RE WELCOME, YOU BUNCH OF INGRATES, I THOUGHT THIS WAS ABOUT DADDY? Kidding, I didn't say that/feel that way AT ALL. We all survived the critique session.

Coach and I have been under an incredible amount of stress this past week - and this silly 'dad dries stuff when he grills' topic was light and fluffy, to us. The kids feared hurting Daddy's feelings, but they didn't get that we were glad for the distraction. 

ANYWAY, afterwards Ed was beating me with a wet noodle for letting the cat out of the bag or in this case the chicken out from under the overused and misunderstood barbeque sauce. He also turned on Tank for being so honest and nit-picky. Tank famously said:

I AM NOT A BULL SHITTER

but it sounded more like:

I'M A NOBLE SHITTER. 

I was in stitches. Of course. You saw it here first, but soon - I'm seeing this on t-shirts. Yes? Pre-orders?

January 13, 2021

Don't we have dinner in the oven? Chia seeds. Other red flags, and gratitude

After I commented recently on Suz's blog about how grateful I am for my babysitting families, I thought I'd share why . . . 

At last, all the pieces have fallen into place. This is my 6th year babysitting for families from my home . . . so, it's about damn time. 

This was me trying to get a photo for our
 ornament project. The 18 month old in the
middle looks like he is fed up with the twins.
 Really we were playing peek-a-boo.
Up close twin on the RIGHT-
I double checked that -
is the Bolt hamster one. 

I've had my fair share of nut jobs. Remember Narcey? Nightmare. Or the mom whose kid had chronic diarrhea? He was potty trained, but struggled to make it on time. I suggested she get him to a doc. Instead she listened to a podcast and asked me to sprinkle chia seeds on his food. Who could forget the Ungratefuls? 2019 Christmas: they didn't give me so much as a hand written note of thanks. The dopey dad refused to knock on my door, always just letting himself in. Ugh.

We parted ways in the spring, and part of me was worried. I was relieved to be rid of them, but they DID meet some of my criteria, minus the normal factor. Sometimes it's easier to dance with the devil you know. I was scared to take on someone else and get a newfangled nut job. 

My criteria: Part time. Teacher hours. Normal parents. A sense of humor (generally I get along with anyone if they have a sense of humor). Laid back types work well with me. The people who are grateful are clearly the best. New families want my references, but I'd also like THEIR'S. "Can you have three people email me to assure me that you're normal?"  - too much to ask? Stay tuned for a few examples of how I've learned a bit to gauge whether or not people are normal . . . 

At the start of the pandemic, I was hired by a teacher at my kids' high school to watch her twin babies this school year, so that limited who I could take. *Or so I thought. Hello, FB accidental hire* 

The other two families who are still on the docket from last year, are literally totally opposite from the Ungratefuls. They paid me for the rest of the semester last year even though we were locked down. The text messages they sent when I said "that's really not necessary" brought me to tears. So kind and gracious. 

New this year:  the baby twins, one twin continues to remind us of the hamster in Bolt. I knew the twins' mom because she taught Ed AP Caluc, and I thought we'd get along just fine. Understatement. We've totally clicked. She's abundantly grateful that I watch her girls. Even though she's a first time mom, she's very relaxed. One twin is really fussy, but I don't care. I do my best to make her feel well and the mom and I trouble shoot as needed.

So far, new FB family has been a good fit. The parents gave me a Christmas gift even though I'd actually only watched their kids twice before Christmas. The 2 year old cried the first few times he came. The 2nd day was the worst. He was seriously melting down. The mom started to tell him that she'd stay for a little bit. I picked him up and said:  NO YOU WON'T. HE'LL BE JUST FINE. (to the 2 yr old) COME ON, I WANT TO SHOW YOU SOME OF THE TOYS IN MY BASEMENT. And that, as they say, is how it's done. I texted her a few minutes later "He's fine!" 

* a short trip to the basement was my way of preserving my children's sleep. No one wants a grumpy 2 yr old AND a room full of grumpy teenagers on their hands. 

PART OF THE REASON I DECIDED TO TAKE THEM She's a teacher, she and her husband seemed nice. They only wanted part time. They hit all the marks. Even though it meant I'd need to switch to 5 days a week.

In total: 3 toddlers boys, 3 baby girls . . .  the more the merrier. I look forward to the nonstop entertainment they'll supply me as they grow up together. Yes, I'm easily entertained. 

The lessons:  

Wait, Ed - I liked eating breakfast
 with you. Come back!
Hard NO:  In July before I met the FB accidental fam, I interviewed another family. They wanted part time. They were teachers. It seemed like it might work. Their kids played in my family room and they told me that they preferred to drop their kids off on a set day, but if that day happened to be a day that a friend could watch them - then they'd end up not brining kids to my house. 

This would clearly save them money, but I pointed out that I don't do drop-in care. I give two weeks of freebie days for sickness or travel, etc. After those are used, you pay regardless of whether or not you use my services. Why would I hold a spot for a kid who comes as needed? 

Literally, after I explained my policy (which is pretty common), the dad looked at the mom. "Hey, we should go. Clean up kids. Don't we have dinner in the oven?" I tried not to die laughing, because I was like - 

Dude, mutual. Get out. I've had my share of your weird type. Ba-bye.

Steer Clear:  When Coach and I went for a walk in the summer, we introduced ourselves to a couple who had just moved in. They had two little kids. I told them: "We have a daughter who babysits. She helps me at my in home daycare, so she has experience."

This perked their ears up. "We have a nanny, but . . . " They'd had her for years, with a break in the middle while the dad was out of work. She was now back with them and bringing her own child. They said they trusted her and she took good care of their kids, BUT they weren't sure she was able to give enough attention to THEIR younger child who was close in age to the babysitter's child. 

Me:  I don't do full time, sorry. 

We walked away, and Coach was like - HEY, THAT SOUNDED PROMISING. 

Me:  They're not my type. (am I getting wiser with age, or what). Coach, they're considering ditching a woman who they claim to like because she does a great job, who was flexible (or maybe just available) to come back after the dad was employed again. Now they aren't sure their daughter is getting the attention she needs. PLEASE. They need to give it time. In a few months, this will no longer be an issue. Their kid has a built in playmate, same gender even. There is no pleasing these two. 

Coach:  Wow. 

Me:  I've sharpened my weirdo-sensing abilities. Remember the first time meeting Narcey? She told me that she figured I was Type A just like her. Huh? I'm NOT Type A. - Turned out neither was she - she was narcocsistic.  Red flag. 

My babysitting friend, Becky, laughs when I occasionally take out the ancient sandwich bag of chia seeds I keep in the back of a kitchen drawer. I shake it to remember, avoid the weirdness. 

Coming Friday:  short post. I'm highlighting some of my kids' talents. Wait, it sounds like my kids aren't talented if I'm referring to it as a short post. They are talented, damn it - and it is a short post. Come back. I'm not crazy. 

January 11, 2021

Back to the grind, circus style

I started babysitting again January 4th after two weeks off. There were a few things I had yet to accomplish on my 'to do' list before I welcomed back the little people. I told Mini, who is seriously focused on making money for college, she could be my paid assistant so I could try to get something done. My high schoolers didn't have classes until Thursday. She jumped at the chance. I told her I'd do the early morning bit. I mean why expect her to break her streak of sleeping till almost noon every day? She understood that she'd need to be up by at least 8:30 or 9. 

We should've shaken on it. 

Sunday evening she told me that she was going to meet with her group for BPA (business professionals of America) at 11:45 the next day. 

Me:  Um, that'll be tricky SINCE YOU'RE BABYSITTING.

Mini:  Oh, shoot. I forgot. I can't skip this meeting. 

Me:  Eye roll. You better plan to be super helpful before you go then. 

I was fine handling the sitting myself, but the thought of easing back into the routine had helped me mentally prepare. Believe it or not, I occasionally get the teenage:  THIS IS YOUR JOB - when I ask for help, or when Mini is left dealing with babies WHILE watching HGTV. I'm always happy to point out that I'm working in order to fund my kids' college tuition. TRANSLATION:  get up off your duff and give me a hand, minus the grief. 

Anyway, I'm back in the swing of things but I've decided that I must not wear sweaters on certain days. Explanation: 

Remember when my schedule switched from 3 days a week to 5 days a week? This was because I'm a FB flunkie. I'd accidentally friended a mom whose post for a sitter was one that I looked at, but ultimately decided NO, I CAN'T DO THAT. Well, she accepted my friend thing, met me, hired me, and I agreed to shuffle people around to accommodate them. Note:  I was extremely grateful to the other families who were willing to shuffle. 

All of my families need care 3 days a week. The 9 month old twins and the family-I-friended-on-FB-accidentally have a 5 month old, they overlap one day:  Wednesday. 

Due to multiple quarantine situations, the FB fam didn't start until just before  break- instead of the original Nov. 5th start date. Last week was my first ALL-HANDS-ON-DECK Wednesday. It's a day with 2 toddlers and all 3 babies. Thus my ban on sweaters on Wednesdays. Getting up and down off the floor to change diapers, clean up kids and high chair trays, and haul babies upstairs for naps - well, it ends with me swimming in sweat come naptime. (Because I needed someone to KNOW how physically demanding this was, I dipped my hand in my puddle where-most-people-have-cleavage and touched it to Curly's arm . . . she promptly decided to disown me).

This past week, Delilah asked if she and her baby-a-holic 14 year old daughter could stop by. 

Delilah:  Is there a day daughter and I could come visit when you have lots of babies?

Me: (without hesitating) WEDNESDAY.

Delilah texted me Wednesday morning to see if it was still OK for them to stop by.

I texted back, YES, BRING THE REINFORCEMENTS. The below photo was attached. 

One baby is hard to see in the light by the window.
I feel like we could play a 'can you see all 5 babies/tots' game with this photo. 


The babies bring their own food, and when I put the twins' waffles in the toaster Reg and Curly drifted into the kitchen:  WHAT SMELLS SO GOOD? DID YOU MAKE PANCAKES? 

It was the last day of break for them, and despite the circus atmosphere I told them I'D whip up some pancakes. Then I realized I was almost out of Bisquick, so I googled to see if I could just add a bit of flour. Instead, I found directions on how to make more Bisquick. Why not?

The tots are trained to stay in the family room,
so at least I don't trip over them when I decide to whip up breakfast.

Reg fed a baby part of a bottle. Have I mentioned, they'll do anything for food? I got the cakes going, and flipped them on the griddle while I burped the baby. Then I fed her the rest of her bottle while I buttered the pancakes. In here somewhere I changed 2 crap diapers, but that's implied. 

I sent Reg in the basement to hang with toddlers while I rode the bike for 35 minutes while three babies took morning naps. (Breathes on knuckles and brushes them against lapel, as in - yep, I'm a pro). 

Three diaper bags and three carseats add to the kitchen clutter.

When Mini woke, I called over my sweaty shoulder from the bike: "Clean up the kitchen from pancakes before you leave for ANOTHER BPA meeting." *Note to self, review with Mini what it means to ACTUALLY clean up a kitchen vs. putting 3 plates in a dishwasher.* Curly, remote learning, helped out between classes. I showered and was back downstairs 10 minutes later. *This is where my readers nod their heads, OH THIS IS WHY SHE DOESN'T SHARE HER BEAUTY SECRETS WITH US, THEY DON'T EXIST.* 

Then Delilah and daughter came. I'll never turn down extra hands on Wednesdays (that was a subliminal message intended for Delilah, the rest of you can ignore). I lost track of how many diapers I changed. The baby who never spits projectiled all over Curly just after she'd showered. 

Mini, home from her meeting, told Curly:  TOO BAD, THAT WAS A CUTE OUTFIT. Curly looked like she'd been dipped in green slime. She changed clothes in a huff.

In case you wonder why it takes me longer lately to comment on blog posts, now you know. 

One guy hasn't been here since Tank's quarantine. They wanted to be able to spend Christmas with grandparents, so decided to limit any possible exposure. Totally understandable. They've paid me my full rate this entire time. Very generous. He comes back this morning and for the next 2.5 weeks he'll be here 5 days a week, so Wednesdays will have another toddler. We're bracing. He's 2 and prefers to be at home where he ALWAYS gets his way. Pray for me.