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August 6, 2020

longest project ever, not flawless, & deep breaths

(Blogger updated, or chose to toy with me - depending on how you look at it, and I am struggling to post my photos without wanting to kick someone at blogger between the eyes, and this font is crazy huge, but just going to try it for now.  Feedback welcome - does it scare you to think the post could be THIS long?  Or is it easy on the eyes?  Didn't mean to keep it this way but afraid if I change it my strategically placed photos will be messed up) . . . 

I didn't get around to writing my Wednesday post, but my photo albums are one step closer to being put together . . .  is that applause I hear as you support a delayed Wednesday post necessitated by my photo album project?  

Kitchen table:  temporary album
 loading zone.  We have two
 islands people can stuff their pie
 holes at, so don't fear that no
 one ate while these photos
 sat here for a week.

My children prefer my dedication to the picture storing project vs. blogging as they are desperate for me to wrap it up.

They are tired of being grilled with questions like:  DO YOU REMEMBER HOW OLD YOU WERE IN THIS PICTURE?  WHEN WAS THIS HAIRCUT?  WHAT GRADE WERE YOU IN WHEN YOU (INSERT ACTIVITY HERE)?  

Whose idea was it to stop having the date print at the bottom edge of the photo anyway? 

Oh, it was also crazy cool here -like low 70s, so I have been bypassing writing and baking like Betty Crocker on crack.  If you lived closer, I would share.  Promise.  I can't eat any of it, if it makes you feel any better.  

Ed wants to take my cookies to his internship as a 'hey thanks for having me, and teaching me shit' gift.  We are supposedly hosting a grad party on the 15th, so I'm freezing cookies for that.  And Ryland, one of Ed's best friends requested pumpkin bread - story to follow . . . 

They are as good as they look, at
least that is what my
gluten eaters say.

I honestly have so much going through my head right now, I am not sure where to begin in this potentially very random post . . . so a few bits and pieces . . .

Aside from the girl-power excitement in Kansas City, we had a nice visit.  I mean, so long as you define 'nice' as a constant reminder that your sister-in-law's children are PERFECT, her house is SPACIOUS, SPOTLESS & BEAUTIFUL and everything - including but not limited to their VERY comfortable financial status- is FLAWLESS. 

Calling this photo the opposite of flawless.  I actually took this picture with albums on my lap and photos scattered at my feet while Mini and Coach sorted laundry and we watched the Minimalism documentary Kari recommended.  Took the photo to demonstrate the irony of what we are watching.  Get it?  If not, watch the movie and then you will. Please note:  more progress was made on albums than there was on laundry, just saying.


Mini told cousin-now-more-of-a-sister, Meggie, on the drive home that 
she finds it totally bazaar that the four siblings in that family get along so well, and that she assumes they are all hiding a dark secret.  Mini is my kind of people.  

Ed and Tank stayed home from KC to work.  The cousins they would enjoy seeing are out of college and work full time, so  these 2 opted to stay home and work rather than drive 7.5 hours in the car to share one meal with said cousins.  Lad still wanted to go, till he changed his mind at the last minute . . . more on that later (can you handle another cliff hanger?) 

Anyway, we were about half way there when Ed called Coach.   

Coach:  Ed, when will you know more?  Hello?  Hello?

Ed didn't want me to know, but Coach told me after their call was disconnected.  One of Ed's best friends from high school, Ryland, who also attends college with him, and is in his fraternity, started to feel unwell at work - his head hurt and half of his face got droopy.  He was taken to the ER by, Conrad, one of Ed's other best friends who works with him.  

Ed had a root canal a week ago so I knew we couldn't call him back because he was at the dentist getting the filling part done.  We sat there wondering if Ryland had a stroke and praying that he was OK for the next several hours.  It was awful.  

Ryland's mom is the woman that I drove to Mom's weekend with,  when my nutty sister suggested she ride with us and I really just wanted to get to know Ryland's mom better - member?  I tried to imagine what she was going through.  I texted Conrad's mom.  She said she would keep me in the loop if she head anything.  

Moments after we arrived in KC, Ed called.  Ryland had a brain cyst.  By the next morning the information had changed. Ry had a tumor on his brain with a cyst on top of that.  It was blocking spinal fluid and that is why he could not feel his arms and legs and his speech became blurred, etc.  He was going into surgery.  They drained the cyst and took a biopsy of the tumor.  They learn more Friday.  

Yesterday Ed delivered pumpkin bread to him with a homemade get well card from Curly of Ed and Ry golfing.  Ry insists he's going to be fine, and Ed is convinced of this too.  We hope and pray for good news.  

Deep breath.

Less laundry, still albums - but progress.
  Oh, and this is Coach after treating
 patients all day.  On floor,
 prone, looking at laptop.

How to follow that?  I am all stream of consciousness here . . . oh - speaking of deep breaths, I have been struggling to take in a full breath for weeks, either that or I have forgotten how to breathe.  In all seriousness, I am trying to figure out if this is just how I normally breathe because it has been so long that I feel kind of tight.  Am I just stressed out and taking too many deep breaths?

I have asthma, but it usually only acts up in the winter if I get a cold, etc.  Temporary.  It is a mild thing for me, and I don't do any meds on a regular basis.  It dawned on me the other night that I should start taking my steroid inhaler.  

Living room coffee table: albums graduate to here when they are almost done.  See, method to my madness.

Maybe quarantine impairs brain function, because why did I forget this option?  I haven't needed to take it for a few years, so that could be part of it.  It's a steroid so it's not a rescue inhaler, but after a few uses it kicks in.  I have noticed I am able to move air better.  Always a good thing, although if we asked Coach he might say, "Less air could mean less talking", but I'm not asking him.  

My point:  as my chest gradually opens, I am coughing a bit.  You know what's fun?  Coughing because of asthma during a pandemic.  And if that isn't fun enough, then wear a mask when your breathing is slightly labored and you sort of feel claustrophobic.  



Home base for projects:  the dining room table.  Will it be clear by Aug. 15th?  Not holding my breath, well that really isn't an option at the moment anyway.  The thing about this project:  I walk away for a few days or a week, and I cannot remember where the hell I left off.  No amount of sticky notes can redirect me.  I will be glad when it is over.

I will leave you here, but tune in next week when I share more about Lad's refusal to go to KC to see how perfect people live, my pantry, my new phone, oh so much excitement.  

Oh, and hopefully I will know more about Ry.  

We go to Michigan on Friday till Tuesday.  Hoping the airbnb in fact sleeps 8 - unlike the Vancouver nightmare last summer.  I really think I have to lean into the 2x a week posts - at least until some stressful stuff eases up over here, and until the photo albums stop covering every surface of the house.  I am on the 2015 album, so the end is in sight.  Have a good weekend!  


August 3, 2020

Mirror, Mirror . . . Stay on the Wall

I know I have described my vasovagal syndrome issue here before, but allow me to refresh your memory:     

I pass out easily.  

Well, I used to pass out easily . . . as I have dealt with delivering babies and the annoying IV that came with that (the one that I told Coach to make the nurses remove), kids' stitches, my stitches, wood-chip specks floating around in kids' eyeballs, etc.  I have adapted, but I am not 100% cured as I did have an issue when giving blood a few years back.  I have typically been able to rise to gross duties dictated by motherhood.  Still, there are some chores I would rather skip.

To be clear, vasovagal syndrome is a real thing.  There is a vein that constricts in people like me when we get grossed out, and causes the squeamish person to faint.  I was unaware that my issue had a name until I fainted during a doctor appointment when I was pregnant with Laddie.  The doc was not touching me.  No needles.  He simply described to me what it meant to be RH negative.  "Your blood cells can attack the baby's blood . . . "  My eyes rolled back, I laid back on the table and heard him call out the door:  "Hey nurse, get me some orange juice.  We have a vasovagal in here."  

When I recovered from my embarrassment, I grilled the doc about this vaso thing.  I felt elated to learn that there was a reason for my passing out track record.  I was NOT a freak . . . well, depends on who you talk to.

As a teenager, it took me 4 years to get contact lenses, (as far as I can tell, I have no male readers, but if you're out there - you might prefer to skip this post) and I was unable to handle using a tampon until after Lad was born.  I know, I know - talk about not being familiar with your own body.  

Well intentioned friends:  Use a mirror.

Me:  Not helpful.  

Years later as I prepared for childbirth, my mom told me she found the mirror helpful during delivery.  Again, no.  Mirrors belong on the wall for FACES.  

Fast forward to our trip to Kansas City over the weekend to visit cousins.  Cousins with a pool.  You get where this is going?

The morning we were leaving, Curly called my cell.  I was in a workout class.  "I got my period!"  This was not the first time, maybe the 4th - but she is still so young.  12!  It's a cruel world.  

I stopped at the drug store on my way home from my class.  A young woman walked in at the same time, headed to the same isle.  Of course we were wearing masks, but I sideways glanced thinking 'Maybe I should ask her which one to get?'  Then I realized that I knew her - she went to my kids' high school, swam on their summer swim team back in the day.  

Me:  Oh, hi!  Hey, what should I get?  Isn't there like a teen product nowadays?  Poor Curly, she's so young.  

College girl:  Oh, here.  I started with these.  These are the smallest.  

I bought the box she suggested and a mix box of 'light days' and regular.'  Covering all bases.

I urged Curly to try one out when I got home, so that she didn't feel the pressure of trying at the cousins' house with the pool beckoning.  We first watched a you tube video.  Her attempt was not successful.

Then she and I tried again in a nice spacious bathroom in KC while everyone was off doing other things. First we watched 11 million you tube videos. I think my favorite was 'Nurse so and so at your cervix.' Cute.

Anyway, no pressure - unlike a few years ago when Mini tried and her brothers were hollering for her to get out of the ONlY bathroom in our hotel room, so we could head to the beach. 

Anyway, Curly came out of the bathroom in KC and wondered "IS THIS IT? DID I DO IT?"

Well, I started to celebrate and she stopped me mid-cheer, "I'm not sure it is right."

I tried to reassure her. "The string is hanging down, you're good."

Then she slowly, awkwardly turned around while maintaining a very stiff posture, to reveal that the tampon was wedged between her butt cheeks. Not exactly going to be of much service there.

Well, if Curly was my velcro-child before, then we are now even CLOSER. Thank goodness, I birthed these children with thick skin. There was no holding back the outburst of laughter. I fell to the floor. Pounded the floor with my fist. Tried to crawl away, as if I might escape certain death by laughter. Tears flowed. Curly laughed at me laughing at her. It was just a beautiful mother-daughter moment, not exactly the kind they make Hallmark cards about, but we tend to do things a little different from most.

So Curly was close on the next attempt, but didn't feel quite right and abandoned ship. The weather in KC was not exactly great pool weather, so the kids hung out in the yard mostly. A bit later, I saw Mini and Meggie, the cousin that we brought with us from Chicago who is a year younger than Mini, pushing Curly around on a raft. Curly was in a suit with boy short bottoms and happy to be the Cleopatra of the pool.


Curly is on the raft doing her 'Carry me 
down the Nile' role on the first day.


Then Lad said something about her being a dope for not swimming, and Reg dumped the raft upside down. Brothers are brainless and irritating, and make me wonder WHAT DID COACH COVER WHEN HE GAVE THEM THE TALK? 
Curly hopped out of the pool,  wrapped herself in a towel and growled at them.

The next morning, I was out for my walk. Mini called.

Mini: Now I got my period.

Me: Oh, shit. Well, you won't have it next week (which is when we anticipated it arriving) when we go to the beach in Michigan. Maybe I will have to conduct a joint class and see if you and Curly can figure out the tampon thing.

*So Mini, aptly named Mini because she is my Mini-me, has vasovagal and has had a vasovagal convulsion before, which was scary - apparently she wanted to one up me. So I was less confident she could tackle the task.  She  has not tried since the hotel disaster a few years ago.*

Mini: Um, Curly already talked me through it. Like, she knew exactly what to do. Meggie was in the bedroom cheering me on while Curly was in the bathroom with me. But I got it in, I think, but I started to dry-heave and I was sweating a ton, and I thought I was going to pass out. Curly started yelling at me to take it out, so I took it out.

Me: Oh my gosh. Well, I will be home in a bit and we can try again, (Mini moaned) or not. 

Mini: Can you EVEN believe that Curly taught me how to do it and she hasn't even done it yet?

Me:  (giggling) Well she did watch 11 million you tube videos.

After my walk, Mini invited me to join her upstairs. Curly followed. Meggie sat in the adjoining jack and jill bedroom. I coached from around the corner of the bathroom in the other bedroom. Curly was right in there directing traffic. And Mini managed. Hooray! 

There was much celebrating, until Curly realized she was now a potentially great future health teacher but would be missing out on the pool fun. 

Folks, Curly tackled the task next with Mini's play by play encouragement. And I was able to keep my social distance.  Afterward, we all enjoyed a little girl-power celebration. Meggie has no sisters, but now she has the sister experience and I believe her status has been raised from cousin to almost-sister.

So how's that for a memory making road trip? Anyone care to share an encounter where you almost passed out, when you hated being a girl, or when you had some awesome girl  power bonding?







July 29, 2020

egg carton romance

Reg was born with eyes as blue as the ocean and a smile that revealed that he was definitely up to something.  Add to that his cute way of talking with a little speech impediment, and he could melt your heart.  Coach and I used to have to duck into the next room while the other parent was playing 'mad-at-you' parent disciplining him, because it was just THAT hard to get angry at him.  

As the youngest of four boys, I always worried that he would be mouthy.  I assumed I would be getting calls from the principal about him - little did I know that would be Tank's deal, even though Tank was the sweetest most sensitive child in the bunch.  

I didn't have to wait for Reg to start school to turn into a punk.  

I reminded him one night when I tucked him:  Daddy said no more flips off of the high dive at the pool.  It's too dangerous.  

He looked at me dead-pan: "Daddy doesn't know evewy-fing, ya know."  

He was four.  (and yes, he was doing flips off the high dive and all the older boys at the pool, like his older brothers' friends, egged him on to try crazier stuff and he never backed down).

When he was about to start preschool I tucked him in one night:

Me:  Hey, I found out your preschool teacher's name.  It's Mrs. McFadden.  Let's say God bless Mrs. McFadden when we say your prayers. 

*I knew, this woman would need help from the good Lord above if she was going to have Mr. Joe-Cool in her class.*

Reg:  Oh, OK.  I'n gonna caw her McFat.  God bwess Mrs. McFat!  Dere, I God bwessed her.  (uncontrollable giggles).

McFat happened to be Laddie's favorite insult that summer.  

The husband of one of the teachers got roped
 into being my garage sale partner.  He was
 a grandpa and he was a godsend.  Could not
 have done it without him.  When he wasn't
 taking orders from me, he was walking around
 the school taking photographs.  I guess
he was the official wedding photographer.  
Back when I ran the garage sale for our parish school, Reg's preschool-self passed the time while I was sorting smelly clothes in the gym by hanging out with a few of his classmates.  

By the way, I think if I asked my kids -they would count my garage sale organizing days as some of their favorite childhood memories.  They ran up and down the Catholic school hallways sampling the donated toys and playing hide and seek with the other kids whose parents volunteered.  It was mayhem and they lived for it.  

Grandpa Garage helper would send me envelopes
of all the photos he took.  Seriously, he
 was a gem.  We had some good laughs.  We pulled
 off four garage sales and raised over $40,000 - I think.
  Anyway, I was so worried I wouldn't be
able to locate these pictures for this post, but I
 found them with a bunch of other envelopes
 from my buddy.  All labeled neatly.  My house
 is covered in photos albums as I try to get
update them and I forgot about his
 pictures, so I have to add these into my albums. 
KEEPERS!  
Anyway, Reg and this girl were smitten with each other, so the older kids that were dashing in and out of classrooms dodging parental control suggested that they get married.  A wedding was staged mid garage sale.  A kid officiated.  Plastic flowers were borrowed for the bride from the 'housewares' room.  I was not in attendance.  The older kids were all a twitter about it and Reg flat out told me on our drive home that he got 'mawwied' that day.  

Fast forward to Reg about 3 years ago:  This kid sort of seemed to lose his edge.  Maybe he feared verbal abuse from older, wiser brothers?  Tough crowd.  He also didn't land in the greatest of classes as far as boys go.  One kid, Mr. Macho, thought he ran the grade and everyone answered to him.  He and Reg were friends, but tough guy Reg sort of backed down a bit.  It boiled his blood.

A few years ago, Ed's high school water polo coach invited 10 yr old Reg to sit on the bench.  Chase lose balls, hand out water bottles, etc.   Ed would come home and say, "Reg, if someone talks to you - respond.  Don't just sit there."  We kept telling him to let his personality shine.  He walked back and forth on the pool deck when the teams switched sides and his upper body would not move.  He was like a walking statue, afraid to mess up.

Present day:  Reg graduated from 8th grade virtually in June.  We were grateful he had a phone during the pandemic, kind of.  He was able to stay connected to kids during e-learning, but holy cow . . . we've never had a phone addict till now.  Not my favorite teen-issue.  

Then Reg started walking down the street with my empty egg cartons.  He told me that a girl that lives 4 houses away (classmate of his) whose house is near the golf course (we are on an interior lot) was in need of egg cartons.  She was putting golf balls in them and selling them.  I think he learned of her need for egg cartons through social media.  

Guess who apparently had his original marriage annulled?  (Interestingly he has not seen 'wife' #1 in years, different schools once we left Catholic school, but they'll be attending the same high school and they recently connected on social media, oh brother).  

We encourage the older kids to invite friends here, so they aren't always going to other houses to socialize.  We like to know who they hang with, plus Coach has so many Dad jokes, it would be wasteful not to have kids show up to be subjected to them.  Also Coach worked hard to finish the basement so we could be part of the rotation of hip houses.  Hello, ping pong, fooz ball, air hockey, kitchen-ette, Irish dancing stage . . . in case friends are feeling jigg-ie.  Our 'happy to have your friends here' suggestions are often met with high school eye rolls.  

Imagine our surprise when all of a sudden, Reg announced:  Oh . . .  I think my friends will come over tomorrow night.  
Oh look, I actually spent 20 minutes
planting flowers earlier in the summer.
  Um, see how the box on the right
 looks sad?  That's because Reg's buddies
 knocked it over with a ball.  Tank, my
professional landscaper, scoffed at their
 attempt to clean it up. So, Tank took Reg
out the next day and replanted it.  It has
 come back somewhat, but the one
 on the left still looks better.
Why is this font so weird?

We looked at him with blank stares.  

Thankfully, Mr. Macho hasn't shown up when Reg hosts.  (Translation:  Reg and a handful of kids have sort of broken away from the group and are currently enjoying the social freedom of NOT hanging out with Macho.  They ride bikes to the park or to each other's houses or they all show up at our house).  

The first time Reg's posse showed up here, they played volleyball in the yard.  I brought out snacks and drinks and managed not to raise my eyebrows when I noted that there were girls in attendance.  One of the girls (insert drum-roll) . . . the egg carton girl.  

That night Coach and I had our first plans since the start of the pandemic.  We were going to meet his former office manager's new serious boyfriend at a fellow co-worker's house.  Backyard, social distancing, drinks, and chatting.  Just as we were about to walk out the door, Reg and his crowd marched inside and down the basement stairs.  

Coach and I froze.  We had to call Tank and Mini and beg one of them to come home while we were gone.  Tank obliged.  We told Reg his friends could stay until a set time.  Done.  As we left I cringed at how LOUD recent 8th grade grads could be.  Poor Tank.  

Our house is on the corner, so when I look out my kitchen window I see my backyard, AND I see the street that runs alongside our house, AND I now often see Ole Blue-Eyes walking along the sidewalk with one or two egg cartons in hand.

I honestly think that Reggie's interest in hanging out with this group of kids has more to do with the egg carton girl than it does with the fact that he can hang with buddies in the absence of bossy Mr. Macho.  The motivation really doesn't matter, but it is entertaining to watch Reg trip over himself to get us to agree to let him meet up with this pack of kids aka the chick he digs.  

Reg:  Um, I unloaded the dishwasher today and I put my laundry away.  Can I just read my required-reading-for-school book that is super overdue at the library later because my friends are hanging out at the park down the street RIGHT NOW?  

We agree reminding him he MUST read this book later.  

Ten minutes later Coach spotted Reg, egg carton girl, another guy and another girl riding bikes together through the neighborhood.  (for visual sake, picture this:  wind blowing Reg's long-ish hair, face split in an ear-to-ear grin, soft music playing . . . OK, there was no music - but you get the idea).  I'm no detective or anything, but this presents more like a double date than a group meeting at the park.  Am I right?  

We are unaccustomed to social lives revving up so early on in the life of a high school kid.  Coach and I are late-bloomer types.  If you need evidence of why I repelled boys in high school, I WILL post photographic evidence.  You've been warned.  

The first 4 kids have all enjoyed time with friends, but no one was really focused on dating this early - aside from Lad, the next three still aren't and I'm OK with that.  I have no idea how to handle the non-late-bloomer type.  Open to suggestions, but my plan is to just continue to toss Reg my empty egg cartons and chuckle as he does his statue walk down the sidewalk hoping not to show up on anyone's radar.  

We are off to KC this afternoon to visit Coach's sister's family.  I am sure I will have some stories to report since we are road tripping.  Oh, and we are taking 2 local cousins with us, and leaving Ed and Tank home.  So, I will catch up with you next week.  Hope everyone has a great weekend and I would love to hear your own personal 'first love' egg carton stories.  Do tell!



July 27, 2020

Reggie cell phone: Mama on a mission

Also pre-pandemic:  Reg was not invited to hang out with his friends when they had a day off in late February.  His classmates all have cell phones.  Reg was scheduled to get his phone in high school, like his siblings before him.  

Well, when the kid broke down in tears at the end of a day-off that he spent alone, I decided the original plan needed to be re-worked.  I told him that if the stars aligned, I would try to find the time to get him a cell phone the next day after school.  

The thing is, Ed's group of friends all had phones.  They never excluded Ed.  They told him their plans in advance, or had their moms text me.  Tank and Mini were the same way.  Well, especially Mini.  Her friends would not dream of hanging out without her.  Tank was a bit of a loner, liked hanging out at home and relaxing.  His best buddy invited him places though.  His mom and I would communicate.  

This group of kids in Reggie's class:  a different breed.  Reg tried to explain it to me.  It would be considered uncool to set something up in advance, to call a landline.  The thing implied here:  this one A-hole kid sets the tone, and no one wants to go against him.  Don't get me started.

At any rate, Coach and I agreed that our desire to remain consistent should not interfere with our kid's social opportunities.  So, I embarked on a mission to get Reg a phone.  Unfortunately this would include a visit to the 3rd circle of hell, also known as Walmart.

Our phone service is Family Mobile, also known as poop.  Just saying.

I am trying to remember the sequence of events here, because it was a while ago.  I think Reg went to school and told his 'friends' that he was getting a phone. 

Reg:  Yeah, they laughed and said they didn't believe me.  (How have you not blackened these kids' eyes by now?- implied, not spoken)

If there is one thing that will make things happen, it is tell me that the thing that I want to do WON'T HAPPEN.   Step aside, neigh-sayers.  

I went to Walmart with limited time right after school.  NEVER a good idea.  The usual guy, Mike, who knows stuff about phones was not at the counter.  Also NOT a good sign.  

I took my chances with Mr. Pokey.  I warned him upfront:  I have had trouble buying, replacing, troubleshooting phones here in the past.  I have a limited amount of time and I am hoping you can help me.  

from tenor
"Obi Won Kenobi, you're my only hope!" - also implied, not spoken.

He sold me a phone and tried to send me home. 

Me:  Oh, no you don't.  We are setting this puppy up here and now so I know it will work when I get home.  

I will record this here, so if it comes up again you can all remind me.  We cannot have more than 5 phones on one plan.  So, Mini was on her own plan.  It took awhile for the people to figure that out.  Mr. Pokey called customer service and handed me the phone.  I was on hold for 15 minutes.  The person was working on getting my phone to work when Mr. Pokey did the unthinkable.  

He hung up the phone.  

Me:  What the hell was that for?  

Pokey:  Well, you will just have to finish that at home.  I can't tie up the line.

Me:  I've been on hold for over 15 minutes and now I have to start all the way over.  Are you freaking kidding me?

Mr. Pokey shuttered a little.  As in:  Oops, I have poked the bear.

I stormed out of the store.  Did as he said, called from home.  The people on the phone explained that Mr. Pokey had not properly set up the phone, so I had to go back into a store.  There was no way to set the phone up from home.

Blood.  Boiling.  

I think I used more swear words than these customer service people had ever heard in a single phone call.  After congratulating me for this accomplishment, a manager was summoned. He was astounded at my struggle with anger management.  But I TOLD THE GUY NOT TO SCREW THIS UP FOR ME and he sold me a phone with a chip that wouldn't work (or a package or something, I don't recall) because he hadn't rung it up properly or something.  

Save me.  

I drove to Curly's volleyball game.  Reg was there, anticipating.  I told him that I tried and it didn't work.  He shrugged:  It's OK. 

But it wasn't OK.  It was killing me.

I had to get Reg to travel basketball - this was not a night Dad was helping me drive.  It was a Monday.  I would drive Curly to dancing at 7.  Race home, grab Reg, drive in the other direction to travel basketball by 8 (it was the last practice, and I hoped he could give kids his #), then drive back to get Curly at 9.  Coach would finish work at 9 and drive in the opposite direction from home to go pick up Reg by 9:30.  Just another relaxing evening. 

I took a big chance (at the high school dance with a miss who was ready to play. . .) - it's a song, rare for me to break into song I know, but couldn't be helped . . . there was a Walmart between home and dancing.  A different Walmart.  Maybe it was not filled with Doo-Doo heads.  

I convinced myself it wasn't worth it.  It might take too long.  I had to return whatever Mr. Pokey sold me by mistake before heading to the phone department.  Despite convincing myself to just drive past the Walmart, I found myself in the parking lot. 

I waited for 5 costly minutes in the return line.  The woman ahead of me had nothing in her hand but a piece of paper.  Layaway?  No idea but it was taking forever and when I asked "How long is this going to be?" the Walmart employee and Ms. Piece of Paper glared at me.  

I exited the line before things escalated and I had to turn them into dust with my lazer eyes, glare at me will you?  I stormed to the phone counter.   It was a young kid.  I told him my predicament.  Told him to just even exchange what I had so I didn't have to wait in the return line.  Begged him to help me.  I believe I also shared what little weasel-heads Reg went to school with.  

We figured out that our family has 2 accounts.  Reg needed to be added to the account where Mini, the cheese stands alone, is on her own.  The guy got me a SIM card or whatever.  He set up the phone while I waited on hold accessing the accounts and what-have-you.  I guessed my password to the 2nd family account on the first try.  The sky was opening and the roof was peeled back from that Walmart building and rays of light shone down on us.  I swear.  

I grabbed the phone and told the young kid that I was about to kiss him and that he was a prince.  I believe he blushed.  

I bolted to the car.  I called our landline using Reg's new cell phone.  He answered.

Me:  Um, I'm calling from your new phone (that just so happened to have been assigned a totally cool number that is super easy to remember).  

My ecstatic kid:  WHAT?  I THOUGHT YOU DIDN'T HAVE TIME.  THANKS MOMMY!

That is the somewhat happy ending to my kid's first phone and how nice was it for him to be able to connect with friends while in lock-down?  

So, should we just gloss over his COMPLETE AND UTTER ADDICTION to said phone that is presently making Coach and I pull our hair out?  Even though we read him the riot act:

'FIRST KID TO GET A PHONE THIS EARLY.  BE RESPONSIBLE.  DON'T OVER DO IT!'

Let's just leave it at the happy place where Walmart employees have downloaded a photo of me from the internet that they use in dart throwing contests, and my kid thinks I am a rock-star, shall we?

July 24, 2020

Fast Friday read: 3 pointers, ND socks, plenty in common

A few months before the pandemic, Mini did a project for BPA, business professionals of America.  Her group had to do a video attempting to gain more fundraising dollars for a high school group/cause of their choice.  They chose Special Olympics.  

The girls gathered video footage of people involved in the program, and Mini had a great idea to interview Bobby.  Bobby helped run the basketball camp at the high school back when Laddie and Eddie were tiny, grade-school participants.  He is now 30 years old.  I suspect that he is autistic, but I am not quite sure what causes him to be considered 'special'.  He is very high functioning and very passionate about the high school's basketball program (Special Olympic and otherwise).    

Mini came away with so much great footage:  Bobby imitating his go-get-um speeches at state in his heyday, Bobby referencing the importance of Special Olympics programs, and Bobby being Bobby.  

He is an amazing basketball player - like he hasn't met a 3 point shot that he cannot make.  Bobby shoots hoops at the health club we belong to during the kids' hours on Sunday afternoons, and he often chats with my kids - especially Reggie.  

During the interview process, Mini met Bobby's mom.  She told Mini that the league that Bobby now plays for (organized for special adult  athletes) is in desperate need of volunteers.  She gave us the number for the group that runs the games.  I called the woman and volunteered Reggie the next week as a ref.  

Reggie on the right after handing the
ball to a participant to be in-bounded.
I texted Coach while I sat in the bleachers the first night that Reg did this reffing thing back in February.  'I think this is going to be good for Reg.'  

I could tell walking in that Reg was a little nervous.  He asked me more than once what he should say to the guy in charge.  I was like:  introduce yourself and say that your mom talked to Karen, who asked if you would be a ref tonight.  

I ended up introducing Reg to the head guy and he was expecting my kid.  It was very low key.  

People, Reg is a great kid, but he needs to learn to be more assertive.  I have found myself lately telling him:  'Speak up. Ask a question.'  I mean, I would send him to school and say 'Give 'em hell,' but Tank already took that angle and got himself kicked out of school with less than an hour left, so I those are not the words I choose to encourage him with.  I have told him to tell the boys in his class to stop being A-holes.  I mean, come on, Reg, you got all these brothers to back you.  No one, and I mean no one should push you around.

I blame birth order.  As a little kid, Reggie was a hell raiser.  He answered to no one and let his voice be heard ALWAYS.  He is responsible for every gray hair on my head.  He was Mr. Spunky as a little munchkin, but we think having older brothers who regularly put Reg in his place has chipped away at his tough guy persona. 


ND fans!!!  What are the chances?
 The SAME socks!
Nowadays he seems to fear messing up.  In our family, there is always someone available to make sure you don't forget how you screwed something up.

Bobby's team is very high functioning, so there weren't many calls that Reg needed to make.  They pretty much played by the rules.  

On the way home, I asked Reg if he noticed anything unusual.  The thing that stood out to us both was that if someone fell down, every player raced over to help the guy up and ask if he was OK.  I think the experience was a great way to put things in perspective for Mr. Ultra Competitive.  

At half time, Bobby chatted with a few fans in the stands.  He pointed out in dramatic fashion that he had to keep his socks folded down because his coach was not a fan of ND.  He quickly rolled the socks up to show off the otherwise hidden ND logo.  

I could NOT believe it.  Reg had on the SAME EXACT pair of socks!  I had them pose for a photo after the game.  

Of course since Reg has claws apparently in place of feet, he put holes through the 8 pairs of ND socks he got for Christmas by mid-March.  





July 22, 2020

Now that's a happy birthday

Reg turned 14 on January 9th.  (Yes, that was a while ago - bear with me as I have a few upcoming Reggie anecdotes and I feel the need to bring you up to speed).  

After school back in January, he had a basketball game at his junior high.  His team was playing the other junior high in our town, so kind of a cross-town rival thing that we didn't have a prayer of winning.  Reg knew other kids playing on the opposing team from the area.  

Reg doesn't have a phone yet but he later told me that the kids from the opposing team were snap-chatting his teammates and talking trash.  One message said:  We are going to destroy you.  You have no one.  

Reg's teammate messaged back:  Oh yeah, we have Reggie Shenanigan!  

I am glad I didn't know about this exchange until AFTER the game.  I think it would have made me feel pressure. 

When Ed was in 8th grade, he had many athletic classmates - focused on basketball.  His team won most, if not all, of their games.  It was very exciting.  

Tank played basketball in grade school too, and two years in high school.  Unlike Reg and Ed (my sons who I apparently cloned from one another), Tank could not be bothered to spend hours on the driveway improving his game.  He was a bench-warmer in grade school, and it burned me up.  Not the NBA - let the kids play, damn it.  I felt the same way when Ed was a starter on a winning team, one of his buddies sat on the bench and almost NEVER played in the game.  Pure garbage.  I would have been fine with Ed sitting more often so everyone got to see some playing time.  

Reg's 8th grade team is the total opposite of Ed's.  There aren't many kids on the team who are into basketball.    
This is not a photo from 'THE
GAME' but Reg is wearing
 the white shirt guarding
 the guy with the ball. 

DIGRESSION:  (you've been warned) Weeks after Reg's birthday game (the point of this post), my dad wanted to attend my nephew's Alan's school basketball game.  Dad had been chauffeuring Reg to travel practices - probably out of guilt.  He had begged my brother, Mike, the travel coach to put the two cousins on the same travel team.  The practices were far from my house, but close to Mike's so Dad, who lives around the corner from me, agreed to drive Reg when Coach worked late.  That was huge.  

So, Dad wanted to pick Reg up earlier than normal on their way to the travel practice so they could watch  Alan's game AT HIS CATHOLIC SCHOOL.  

Me:  Well, Dad, Reg has a game after school at his PUBLIC SCHOOL just a few houses away from your home.  

Ya follow?  

My dad decided to attend Reg's game (first time, season almost over) so they could then bolt to Alan's IMPORTANT game.   (There are lots of family members mentioned here, raise your hand if you're lost.  I feel like I should draw a picture).  

Dad got to Reg's game before me and was sitting in the front row of the bleachers.  I climbed up to the top of the bleachers to find a seat.  At half time, Dad started climbing the bleachers.  

Nervous me:  "Dad, just stay put.  You don't need to climb up here."

Dad:  "I just want to ask you if they really don't have another kid who can play basketball in this entire school besides Reg?"

Me waving hands wildly to attract the manner police:  Can we get a filter over here in the front row of the bleachers, PLEASE?  

I shook my head at my dad.  "Hey, we are sitting here surrounded by the parents of the other players on the team, Dad," I whispered loudly.  Fortunately I don't think the other parents heard or if they did, they didn't care.  


Dad:  Swatting a hand at me, "I don't care."  Shock.  

I guess I should be grateful that in the 11th hour my dad a) went to my kid's game, and b) recognized that my kid is a great basketball player.  

***After the travel season, my brother, Mike, texted Coach to say that he always wished one of his kids was as athletic as Reg.  This was quite a compliment.  Reg had a blast on Mike's team.  Great teammates.  Great coaching.  Reg and Alan are great pals and watching them play together was fun.  

After growing up in a family where my brothers' athleticism was CONSTANTLY PRAISED, I must admit that it is quite sweet that my boys AND my girls are more athletic than any of my brothers' boys or girls (they each have two boys, plus two girls/one girl). But Dad's focus is still Alan's games, not Reg's.  Also, Dad never attended one of Lad's division 1 water polo games.  This is where as a fan I would yell 'scoreboard, scoreboard!'

Now the point of the post:  We had no hope of winning the game that this post is really about:  Reg's 14th birthday game.   

Ed was still home from college.  He helped me get to the gym with the two babies who had yet to be picked up after school.  He fed one a bottle in the front row of the bleachers, and I fed the other one a bottle standing off to the side.  

Side note #1:  Earlier during Christmas break, Lad and Ed went to watch Reg play basketball in a travel game.  Poor Reg.  He felt lots of pressure to perform in front of his college brothers.  His travel team faced off against a superior team, and Reg didn't play his best.  He was in tears by the time his brothers drove him home.  He had no other travel games on the schedule while they were both home.

Side note #2:  You know how certain classes of kids have their own flavor?  A weird mix?  Some classes super social and inclusive?  Some super athletic?  Some full of mean kids?  

Lad's class was full of mean kids, that I have previously described.

Ed had an amazing group of kids in his grade.  Tank had a few close buddies.

Reg's class is not overly athletic.  There are a few kids that are the center of his group.  One is just a jerk who thinks he is hot shit.  Another, a creep.  The rest mostly followers.  Reg doesn't really gel with them.  They talk about their sleepover at the lunch table in front of Reg when he wasn't invited.  They all have phones.  We don't get our kids phones till high school.  Ah, high school.  I cannot wait for Reg to attend high school with new potential friendships.  

THE GAME:  (ah, the point at last) So our team was losing.  By close to 20 at the half.  Reg made a couple of three pointers.  He got a few steals (his specialty).  We started closing the gap.  

Also not a photo from the game.  Reg
is behind the kid in black.
With a few minutes left in the game, they fouled Reg.  He hit both free throws.  They fouled him again.  I think it was a 3 pointer and he had 3 shots.  Then the kid on the other team who fouled him threw a chair on the sidelines and they called a technical foul.  Reg made 4 free throws in a row.  The place went wild.  

I stood there next to the bleachers and could barely breathe.  I was swaying back and forth even though I had put the baby in his carrier.  I was SO emotional - wiping tears off my face.  Ed rubber necked from his front-row, baby-holding seat to find me in my corner.  His face was lit up like the scoreboard.  I just shrugged at him and smiled.  I was like, "Holy shit, Ed - holy shit!"

My Mom was at this game.  She doesn't drive in winter, but she had walked.  That's how close they live.  Her face was BEAT RED.  

During a timeout, I noticed that the baby's mom had texted me to say she was at Reg's school to claim her kid.  I texted her back with shaking hands.  "Close game.  I will come out with the baby in a few minutes."

A teacher working the concessions patted my arm.  I turned to him and whispered in an emotionally squeaky voice:  IT'S HIS BIRTHDAY!

We were in the lead by a point with seconds left.  Their ball.  Ahhh.

They turned the ball over.   Reg got the ball.  He either made a basket or got fouled again and made those baskets.  I don't remember.  I just know that he was on fire from the line after driving to the hoop and drawing foul after foul.   The crowd was going NUTS!  

The buzzer went off.  Game over.  I started to grab the carrier to take the baby out to his mom.  She was standing next to me.  I hadn't even seen her.  She was like, "Oh my gosh, Ernie!"  Her eyes were all teary too.   

So often I grab the video camera and video the kids' games.  I didn't have the video camera.  Just a bottle, a baby, a stroller, etc.  I wish we had a recording of the game, but regardless I will never forget.


WHAT AN UNFORGETTABLE WAY TO TURN 14!