Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I'm Not Kidding. These Really Are the Rules.

Every single time my family gets together, Euchre is involved.  I remember being a little kid sitting at the corner of the table watching the adults play.  As I sat there trying to learn how to shuffle a deck of cards, I was also trying to keep up with both the rules of the game and the conversations.

With my family, a game of cards is a way to have fun.  It is where all squabbles, differences of opinions, and disagreements are put aside in order to have a good laugh.  There is always, always laughter around the card table.

Funny thing is, I have a hard time playing Euchre with anyone outside my family.  No one knows the rules of how to play or how to win.  When Giant was in 3rd grade, a bunch of 3rd grade moms got a Euchre night together.  We played about once a month, and while I had a great time, I was kinda frustrated by the card-playing.

There are rules to Euchre, and not just the written ones that you'd find when looking for instructions on how to play.  I have no idea from where they came, but they are memorized by every single member of my extended family.  And followed religiously.  Unless, of course, you have a hand that requires you to not follow the rules.  If it works, it will be called a fluke, but you'll be OK.  If it doesn't work, you will be berated by your partner.

Just so you know.  If you ever play with my family.

Regardless of whether you play with us or not, take heed.  If you want to win at Euchre, follow these rules.

1.  Trump high, lead low.

No one wants to be they guy who trumped with a 10, then was overtrumped by his opponent.  It's especially bad if you then get Euchred because of that dumb move.

2.  You will never go set on a nine.

If a nine is turned up, and your team has dealt, go for it.  Even if you only have two trump, give it a whirl.

3.  You will probably go set on a 10.

If a ten is turned up, and your team has dealt, do not pick it up.  Avoid tens like the plague.

4.  Where there's hearts, there's spades.

If hearts are trump, the team who made it hearts will have spades in their hands.  If you, as the opposing team, are first to lead, lead with a spade and recite the rule as you put your card down.  Your teammate will not have spades, so he will be able to trump it and get the trick.

The same works with diamonds and clubs.

5.  When dealing, deal 2 or 3 cards at a time.

Dealing one card at a time like you would do in almost any other game of cards is not allowed.  It messes up...something.

6.  Don't sit between the markers (aka score cards).

If you sit between your team's markers and the other team's markers, you will lose.  It is bad luck of epic proportions.  My family is mighty sneaky, trying to get their opponents between the markers.  Be vigilant.  Move your markers immediately if you notice you are between them.

7.  Call next.

This is one of the most important rules of the game.  If the opposing team deals, then turns down the card (and chooses not to make it trump), you must call next.  "Next" means the suit of the same color.  So, if the dealer turns down the spade he had turned up, you must call clubs.  If you only have one club in your hand, you must say, "Clubs...for my partner".  That phrase clears you of all responsibility if the rule doesn't work and your team gets set.

8.  Do not lead your partner out of trump.

You may lead trump once, and once only.  If you lead twice, you may take all of your partner's trump, in which case he will get mighty annoyed with you when he is unable to trump a trick later in the hand.

9.  Sit with the flow of the bathtub.

No joke, this is huge.  Before you sit down to play, go to the bathroom.  Make sure you know in which direction the water flows.  When you go to sit at the card table across from your partner, make sure you sit with the flow of the tub.  I'm pretty sure it's karma.

10.  Do not, under any circumstances, play like Inez.

My grandparents used to go to Bingo early on Sundays to play cards with a group of friends.  One of those friends happened to be Inez, one of the worst card players to ever hold a deck of cards.  When our family plays and someone really messes up, Grandma will go into a story about how that play was just like something Inez did.  It is much better to table talk and ask for help than play like Inez.

If you have never played Euchre before, these rules may not make the most sense.  I'll be happy to give you some lessons the next time I see you!  If you have played Euchre before, some of these rules may sound a bit bizarre.  Don't know them until you've tried them.

This post was inspired by two hops going on today.  Josie is hosting her 101st week of Two Shoes Tuesday (I am so bummed I missed the big 110!) in which the blogger chooses one of the two prompts to write a post.  Today's words are card and drawing.   The second is Lisa's Tuesday's Ten.  Today we are supposed to give some advice.

Thank you, Ladies, for coming up with prompts that help me lighten things up around here.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Moments I Will Never Forget

My great-aunt Donna is showing signs that she may not make it even a month.  While she stayed up and talked with my dad for two hours last night, a simple bath wore her out so much everyone thought she could die at any moment.  She is eating less than a bird does.  There is a good chance I have seen her for the very last time.

I have a terrible memory that seems to get worse every year, so I'm going to write down some of the things I don't want to forget about my time with Donna.  I don't have any big, adventurous stories of time spent with her.  Even if I did, I wouldn't worry about forgetting something like that.  Our time together was filled with normal, everyday events.  Hours and hours and hours filled with little moments and mundane events is what strengthened our relationship.  Unfortunately, it's the little things we tend to forget.

I don't want to forget.

I have to admit, it didn't cross my mind to write these things down until I saw that Stasha had chosen "10 Moments I Will Never Forget" for her Listicles this week.  Couldn't be more perfect.  Thank you, Stasha, for choosing this topic at just the right time.

1.  When I was little, I used to spend the night with Donna and her husband every once in a while.  I will never forget the first breakfast I had with them.  I sat down to the biggest pancakes I had ever seen.  They were as big as the plate.  When my eyes bugged out, she said, "Well, Ralph has a big appetite.  He needs big pancakes!"  My shock and glee over pancakes that were simply larger than normal stuck with me, and I have made sure to mix up the size and shape of the pancakes I make for my kids.  They get just as excited as I got when Donna put those gigantic pancakes in front of me.

2.  Donna has always loved to play Scrabble, and she knows how to play.  My grandma hated to play with her, partly because Donna knows all the legal two-letter words that no one else knows.  When Grandma heard that I was going to play with Donna, she wished me luck, thinking I'd get whooped.  Well, I did get whooped the first few times, even though she was gracious enough to keep a list of those two-letter words out on the table for me, as well as the Scrabble dictionary I had given to her on her 75th birthday.  Eventually I managed to beat her.  I've even done it more than once over the years. And yet, I still get a little thrill when I do.

3.  I had always heard that Donna used a wringer-washer.  I didn't believe it until the day I had to help her retrieve something from the basement.  There it was.  A for-real, in-life, still-used wringer washer.  She'd still be using one to this day if she could have found a replacement when her old one finally broke.

4.  Whenever Donna and I would get together for some Scrabble, she'd always make a simple meal for us first.  I especially loved having breakfast with her. She knew how much I liked her coffee cake, so she would frequently make it for me.  My only regret is that I never made her sit down and write the recipe down for me.  All I know is that she used sour cream to make it.  I will now have to try making every recipe I can find with sour cream to see if it's even close to hers.

5.  My grandma and her sisters inherited a ridiculously high standard of clean from their mother.  My grandma would tell me stories of staying up until 2 am cleaning the hardwood floors and ironing all of my dad's and his siblings' clothes.  My grandma thinks this behavior was normal and would tell me all about how crazy clean her sister Donna was.  I didn't believe it until the day Donna said something about putting socks on her ladder when she used it outside.  And in the same visit I learned that she routinely scrubbed the garage floor on her hands and knees.  I couldn't get over how nonchalantly she said it, like it is perfectly normal for people to scrub their floors on their hands and knees.  I have yet to mention to either one of them that the clean streak ended with my generation.  My sister and cousins and I may have high standards for cleanliness, but it ain't nowhere near their level.  Not one of us would ever scrub the garage floor (with a mop or otherwise) or stay up past midnight to clean the floors inside the house.

6.  My aunt and grandma are opinionated and spunky.  It cracks me up when they get on a roll.  One example I can give you occurred on a recent Thanksgiving.  Members of our extended family have different ideas on what a "bad" word is.  At one point in a conversation, my aunt said something was bullshit, and some awkwardness followed.  My grandma and Donna immediately started defending the word.  I couldn't hold the laughter in any longer when my aunt threw out, "It's a bull and it shits.  Bullshit is not a cuss word!"

7.  Aunt Donna is the keeper of the family scrapbook.  She has every baby announcement ever sent to her.  She has cut out all of the articles in which one of us has been named in the newspaper.  She has wedding invites and graduation announcements and photos galore.  It was always fun to go through the scrapbooks and hear the stories about both the family I have always known as well as the extended family I only know by name.

8.  Donna is the only person I know who makes pizzelles.  Every singe Thanksgiving and Christmas, she brings a tin of them to dinner.

9.  One of the last times I went to visit with her, I took her to clean up her husband's grave site.  Ralph was such a nice man, and I enjoyed hearing the stories of her wedding and her marriage all over again while we worked.

10.  Lastly, if our predictions come true, I don't want to ever forget that last day I had with her.  It was shocking to see her so sick, especially since I knew she had been her normal, healthy self just 5 days before, but it was wonderful to hear her regale us with stories from the hospital.  She had us all laughing, despite the reality of what she was going through.  And because of all those hours of simple, normal, completely ordinary games of Scrabble, there wasn't any awkwardness when she needed help with tasks she easily did on her own a short week ago.  It didn't phase either one of us, for her to do the asking or for me to do the jumping in to help.

While talking with my aunt today, I told her how hard it was to leave Ohio.  I want to be back there so badly.  I just can't get my mind off of what is happening there.  My aunt knew exactly what I meant.  She was a wreck for the week that Donna was in the hospital, and was thrilled when I called her and told her she needed to get to Grandma's house.  The moment she got to town, her anxiety disappeared.  She is now helping and holding hands with Donna, and she is happy to do it.

This entire experience has completely reinforced the decisions Bryan and I have always made to get our butts back home whenever we can.  It has never been an easy task to get there.  We've drug babies and toddlers and teenagers those many hours, for almost every holiday, even when it was the last thing we wanted to do.  We've loaded the van to bursting with pack-n-plays and diapers and snowsuits and presents and books too many times to count.

At times like this, I am so, so, so glad that we did.

And we'll keep on doing it as long as we have family to visit.

I do not want to come to the end of a loved one's life with regrets.  I don't want to say, "I wish we would have..."

I want to be able to write a list of memories full of the little things we did together.  Full of the stories that helped us become closer. Full of nice things we did for each other, just because we knew those things would make the other person happy.

Don't have regrets.

Do the things you don't want to do.

It will be worth it in the end.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Not the List I Envisioned, TToT Week 70

I have a great-aunt whom I adore.  She is the youngest sister (86 years old) of my almost-90 year old grandma.  She and her husband were never able to have children of their own, but she was so involved in helping my grandma raise my dad and his siblings that she was almost their second mother.  She has always been a part of our lives, but even more so since her husband died 22 years ago.

My aunt loves to play Scrabble, so every time I go to Ohio she and I have a standing date to play.  Bryan takes the kids so she and I can have a meal and play a few games together.  We've been doing this for at least 10 years.

I am grateful for all of those hours and hours of time I was able to spend with her.

Before we left for Ohio, my dad told me that my aunt had been admitted to the hospital.  She had a pain in her abdomen and her feet were very swollen.  They were conducting all sorts of tests on her, and the results were going to be ready on Wednesday.  Towards the end of our drive, about an hour away from my grandma's house, I got the call.  My aunt is filled with cancer.  It's in her lungs, her liver, her abdomen.  She has refused treatment, and the doctors have said she has 2-6 months to live.

Our trip was very different than the one we had planned.

While we did get my grandma's yard all cleaned up for the winter, we didn't play any card games.  Instead, the boys did a fabulous job of keeping themselves occupied in the basement at my grandma's house while I helped my grandma and my aunt.  She left the hospital on Thursday and moved straight into my grandma's house.

I will forever be grateful that I was back home this particular week.  I am so grateful that I was able to be there to see my aunt and help her and my grandma.  We didn't get to play Scrabble, but I did get to talk with her.  Even in her horribly weakened state, she was able to make us laugh. I was able to help her slowly and carefully walk into the house.  I got to help her when she needed to check her blood sugar.  I was able to rub her back and get her comfortable when she was feeling like she was going to be sick.

I will forever be grateful for the time I could be there.

Before I went to Ohio, knowing time would be tight when I returned to Indiana, I had started my thankful list.  While I'm still thankful for the fact that I can finally sit Indian-style (I've been waiting for 5 months to be able to do that!) and for the time to get our house cleaned and the game cabinet cleaned out, it pales in comparison to the gratefulness I feel in being able to be in Ohio for these days with my grandma and aunt.

We slept at my dad's house for the first time in a long time.  He seemed to be very happy to have us there, even getting up early to make a gigantic breakfast for us on Thursday.  On Thursday night, the boys and my dad and my stepmom and I played cards at my dad's house until way past bedtime.  We laughed and we enjoyed ourselves.   I am so grateful for the time spent with them, too.

I absolutely hated to leave Ohio.

While I know they are in capable hands, and my aunt and grandma and all the other relatives understand that I had to leave, I want to be back there so badly.  I want to sit with them and listen to their stories of when they were kids.  Of when they were teenagers.  Of when they were young adults, forging out into their lives away from home.  I want to hold my aunt's hand while she sleeps.  I want to hold my grandma's hand while she doesn't.  Because she can't, worried for her sister.

But I must be home.  Not just for my own kids, but because my darling nephews are coming.  In fact, they will be here any minute.  I'll spend a week caring for them and having fun taking them to various places around Indianapolis.

And I'm grateful for the time with them, too.

This week has just reinforced my belief that we need to quit being too busy for each other.  We need to stop working or cleaning or (gasp!) blogging in order to spend time people.  It doesn't matter if we are doing big, adventurous things or simply playing a game of cards.  We need to spend time with people.  Face to face.  And we need to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

When looking in the face of an 86 year old woman on her death bed, I am so, so glad I spent those years making the 6 hour drive that made those simple games of Scrabble possible.

Call someone today.  Visit someone as soon as you can.  Make it happen.  You won't regret it.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Boys Are Gross (but Funny), and I Like to Make Pre-Emptive Excuses

You know what happens when you pair up with a 6 year old for the Fantasy Football league and then leave to let him pick the players?  Yes, you get a bunch of players who will most certainly not get you the win. But that's not all.

Oh no.

You will also get a name like Team Poop.

Or not "like" Team Poop, but in fact and reality, Team Poop will be your team name for the entire football season.

Because 6 year olds think poop is funny.


To stick with the theme, and not the football one...

A few boys were having one big wrestling match in the dining room.  I was in the kitchen having a great time listening to them.

They came up with two rules right off the bat.

1.  No kissing.
2.  No tooting.

In case you are new to wrestling boys, the no kissing rule comes about because boys do not like kisses from their brothers.  If a boy is in a head lock, a quick turn of the head and a peck on the cheek will cause the attacker to take a few seconds to scream "Ewewewew yuckyuckyuck!!" and loosen his grip.  The head locked boy will have just enough time to escape.

As for the second rule, it isn't really to escape.  Boys just like to gross each other out with well-placed toots, and some brothers don't appreciate it when it is done to them.

Apparently, they were a gassy bunch today, because every minute or so I heard things like this:

"Who tooted?!?!"
"It was you!"
"It wasn't me!"
"It wasn't him or me, so it must have been you!"

I guess they forgot the first rule of making rules...You must be able to actually identify the rule breaker in order to enforce the rule.


To move a bit away from the theme,  but not really...

On Saturday, two of my nephews will be coming to stay with us for the week.  The older of the two has stayed with us for at least a week (almost) every summer of his 12 years.  The youngest nephew has never stayed with us.  Mostly because he is only a year and a half.

Yup, for a week I'm going back to toddler chasing.

And diaper changing.

Don't expect to see much of me next week.


Or the rest of this week.  My grandma turns 90 at the end of the month, and I'm taking the kids for a really quick trip to visit her before the nephews arrive.  We rarely see her outside of the holidays (4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas), and I feel awful that we don't.  So these two days will be all about her.  We will play Euchre until all hours of the night.  We will do all of the odd jobs she wants done around the house.  I warned the kids that we may be flipping mattresses, getting things out of the attic, cleaning up an already clean yard, changing lightbulbs, or moving furniture.  Grandma is so excited.

Good grief.  What am I doing sitting here writing?!?!?  I have a trip to take and I haven't packed yet.

I'll do my best to get a TToT post up Friday night.  I'm not even going to have to think hard to come up with a list.  It's been a great week so far.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'm a Guest Blogger!

Sorry.  My brain knows it's fall break and refuses to come up with a catchier title.  That or the 2 hour SpongeBob Squarepants Monopoly game sucked all the creativity right out of me.


Kerri asked me to write a post for her series "My Challenge Is..." a while back.  Of course I said yes and then put it off for a month.  But I got it done, and today it is up at her spiffy new blog.

Before you go, take a guess as to what you think my challenge is.

Let me know if you got it right!

Have a lovely day!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Plans. Sometimes They Work Perfectly, Sometimes They Really, Really Don't, TToT Week 69

Consider this my very last really, really busy week.

I almost said that with a straight face.

I have about lost my will to plan anything anymore.  It is such a rare day that my plans reach fruition, I just plan to change my plans.  There is always a plan B, C, and D, if not an E at the ready.

Or not.  Many times, the plans change so fast, even the backup plans go out the window.

But for real, this should be the last really, really busy week for a while.

1.  Giant and Star competed in the city cross country meet on Wednesday to end the season.  It was a great meet, and they both ran their personal bests.  I am especially happy for Star, as it is the last cross country meet he will ever run.  (He'll be starting high school next year and will be playing soccer instead of running.)  It was a fantastic end to his running "career".

2.  Also on Wednesday, Phoenix's high school soccer team played in the first game on the road to state.  They were the serious underdogs, as the team they played was one of the top 15 in the state.  It was an exciting game to say the least.  In the end, WE WON!  Game two is Saturday night.

3.  Did you catch that both gigantic sporting events in my children's lives were on the same night?  I was thrilled with the way the timing worked out.  The boys were in the last race at 6:30.  The meet was only 20 minutes away from the soccer game, and the game didn't start until 7:30.  I got to see both events in their entirety!

4.  Turken will be playing in his last soccer game of the season this weekend.  He has had so much fun, finally getting to play on a real field with a real goalie instead of simply watching his siblings from the sidelines.  He played well all season, even though he was playing against kids who were up to a year and a half older than him.

5.  You know, that thing that happened this week that I can't remember (because I didn't write it down in any legible way).  (That's for you, Denise!)

6.  After much putting off and worrying and trying to fit and figure things out, we finally have Cuckoo's special trip scheduled.  (To read about these trips, go here.)  The day before Halloween, he and I will board a plane for Orlando.  He is ridiculously excited to be trick-or-treating on his trip, purely for the fact that we will be going in a neighborhood with more houses than we normally visit.  Basically, he'll get more candy than his siblings.  I am excited because that trick-or-treating will be with a friend of mine.  She's a blog friend I've never met in real life, but I feel like we've been friends forever.  (She's the one who had me rolling in the aisles of the grocery store when she sent me one, simple text.)  We're all going to have a blast.

7.   The pigs are finally where I like them...in my freezer.  It took me eight trips from van to basement, carrying massive amounts of pork, but it's all organized and ready to go.  There's only one problem. There is no way we can eat 350 pounds of pork in one year.  (There's relatively little bacon from a pig.)  Fortunately, we know quite a few people who like to eat pork, too, and are willing to buy it off of us.

8.  The work of putting food from the garden and orchard is done for the year.  I can finally pack up the canning supplies.  It is so satisfying to walk into the basement and see jar after jar of food that we grew, picked, and preserved ourselves.  And it means all sorts of now free time to do other things.  Perhaps I shall kick back and read a book in a day.

I really couldn't say that with a straight face.

9.  One major monkey wrench in the plans this week occurred on Friday.  As I drove down the driveway, I heard something a little off.  I looked in my side mirror and discovered that my tire was flat.  Flatty, flat, horribly flat.  Unfortunately, I was driving down my driveway to pick the kids up from school and attend parent/student/teacher conferences on an early dismissal day.  Fortunately, I am in a community full of people who are happy to help me.  A friend of mine grabbed my kids and took charge of them for 2 hours while I waited for the tow truck guy to fix my tire.

10.  Fall break started at dismissal today.  The high school only gets out Thursday and Friday next week, but the other three have THE ENTIRE WEEK OFF!!  I am so excited.  It won't be perfect, seeing as how I still have to get the high school kids and Cuckoo still has school and I have a doctor appointment on Wednesday, but it will be easier.  Especially now that three sports teams are done for the season.

Okie doke.  It's your turn.  Any plans get derailed? Find any good in that derailment?

Link up or let me know in the comments!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

TYVM for the LOLs

I love texting with my kids, as they constantly surprise me.

I'll give you an example:

Driving home with the two oldest children, I wanted to talk to someone at home.  I did not care which someone it was, I just needed someone to get some ground meat out of the freezer and into the microwave to defrost, as I knew my time for dinner prep was going to be cut short.

It seemed I had not hung up the phone when I used it earlier, because the phone kept ringing busy.  Finally, I told Phoenix to use my phone to text Giant (the most likely to have his iPod nearby, seeing as how his friends have become a group messaging gang, filling my iPad with their nonsense).

He was told to text "Call me."  So he did.  With just those two words.

The reply I received:  "Who tf is dis"

When Phoenix showed me, my eyes about popped out of my head.

I asked Phoenix, "Did he just text what I think he text?"

Phoenix:  "Um.  Yes.  That would be a WTF."

Me, very tersely and with a dangerous crevice between my eyebrows:  Text back "Your mother".

I was floored.  The two kids with me were flabbergasted.  He was so busted.

Within seconds, the phone rang.  The display told us it was Giant calling.  I answered very sweetly, "Well hi there!"

The reply was a simple "Yeah.  Hi."

Problem was, it was a deep, scratchy, voice.  Basically, it sounded like a 400 pound man, who had done quite a bit of smoking in his lifetime, coming out of a drug-induced coma.

I sat there with the phone to my ear, struck speechless, yet trying not to laugh, while the guy just kept grunting and breathing.

Me:  "Um, yeah.  You are not who I was expecting.  Clearly I have the wrong number."

And I hung up.

The two teens were laughing their full heads off as they told me why the previous exchange happened.

The kids in our family who do not have phones use an app on their iPods to text.  If that app isn't used within a certain amount of time, the user receives a new number the next time he does.  I had an old number programmed into my phone. Apparently, it was given to a large, sleepy, unhappy man.

I was laughing pretty hard about the entire episode, but I pulled it together before going inside.

I stomped in the front door, went up to Giant, pointed a finger in his face, and scolded, "You are SO lucky it wasn't you!" before I turned on my heels and went to get the meat out of the freezer myself.

As I write this, I wonder. Should have done that man's mom a solid and scolded him, too?