For some reason, this week I have been inundated with the concept of people going to have lunch with their kids at school. My Facebook feed is flooded with pictures of mommies and daddies sitting at lunch with their child at school. My friends are scheduling their days around making it across town to their kids’ schools to have lunch. Our children’s school Facebook pages have parents constantly asking what time lunch is for each grade level so they or the grandparents can come eat lunch with their kids at school. My own children get in the car after school and tell me about whose parents came to eat lunch with them that day, and occasionally ask if I will ever do that.

And the answer is, probably not (except for maybe the occasional delivery of cupcakes on a birthday, Because I’m not totally heartless. Just mostly heartless.)

I know. You think I’m a callous, awful human being. And maybe I am, but hear me out.

For the record, I don’t think this is a bad thing, and I’m not about to hate on all the people who do this. Each to their own. It just doesn’t happen to be a priority of mine, and it’s not something I lose sleep over every night.

First and foremost, I get to eat plenty of meals with my kids- breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and multiple made-up snack times in between. And they’re all awful. Meal time with my kids is painful. It is something I dread, loathe, and even hide from. And I have to suffer through that crap enough without having to drive over to their school for a third time that day to watch them not eat another meal.

Second, this is their time with their friends. They spend seven hours at school, and less than one hour of that is spent in recreation with their friends. Who am I to take that time away from them, when I get to spend the whole evening with them at home? (And then the whole weekend, and all the holidays…) They don’t need me to sit there and chat them through lunch when there are perfectly good peers sitting right among them to keep them company for twenty-two minutes.

And it’s not just that they can talk to their classmates at lunch- I want them to talk to their classmates at lunch. I want them to make friends, and have an outlet for talking about whatever it is that five, or six, or nine year-old kids want to talk about. Because, while I have and will continue to do it, I don’t particularly want to talk about the ins and outs of Minecraft, or split hairs on the rules of Punch Buggy, or discuss the myriad of possibilities for Lego creations for hours on end. Let them discuss these things with other people who want to discuss these things, just like I want to spend time when I have it chatting with other moms who want to talk about the things I want to talk about. You see, I can do this occasionally during the time I may otherwise spend in the school cafeteria. Everybody wins!

This is the paragraph when you’re really going to start to hate me and think I am an awful parent. I have better things to do. GASP! I know, I heard you. You just freaked out because I openly admitted that my children aren’t my number one priority for every moment of every day, and I have better things to do than cherish each and every second of their precious little lives. The thing is, they are my priority. And they will be my priority from 2:50 every afternoon until 8:30 or 9:00 or whenever the hell they finally succumb to exhaustion and go to sleep every night. So that leaves me with a finite period of time during the school day (and outside of Dally’s nap time when I’m stuck at home) to get everything else in my life done. This way, I’m not trying (unsuccessfully) to focus on contract work, or making menus, or emailing clients, or cleaning the house, or doing laundry, or running millions of errands, or whatever while they are in my care. I’m not saying it always all gets done, and that they never spend a second in a grocery cart. But trust me when I say that it’s better for all of us if I can limit that to a minimum, and allow them to be where they want to be after a long day of school.

I remember sitting at lunch in elementary school and seeing other kids’ parents bring them lunch from Chick-fil-a or McDonald’s and think how nice that must be, and how they must feel really special. But I don’t recall thinking that my parents must love me less because they never came to have lunch with me. Because that wasn’t the case. And it isn’t the case with my kids, and I’m confident they know that. I love my children just as much as the parents who come have lunch with their kids love them. For me, publicly sharing a crappy meal in a loud cafeteria in a very limited amount of time just isn’t the way I need to show that love.It is, however, a way to encourage me to day drink.

Besides, everybody knows I show my love with bacon and butter.

 

As a parent, you learn to be good at many things. Multi-tasking like a boss, entertaining and disciplining from the bathroom, working off of no sleep, and coming up with awesome excuses for not touching the mountain of dishes in my sink for days are just a some of the skills I have mastered in the last nine and a half years. But something I have really honed, to the point where I think I could teach a class on the subject, is making something out of nothing.

Perhaps this is a byproduct of being raised by waste-nots. Maybe this is something that goes along with cooking all the time and learning to be creative in the kitchen. Or maybe it’s just a survival tactic for moms of many children on a budget. It’s probably mostly due to my incredible disdain for eating leftovers myself, and doing my best to use them all up on the kids to ensure I don’t have to eat them. But when the need arises, I can make a complete meal for my kids in a matter of minutes, even when it seems there is nothing in the fridge to make it with.

Now, I’m not going to proceed by giving you the recipes to my homemade healthy pop tarts or magical chia surprise that my kids just gobble up like crazy. These meals I speak of are not always guaranteed to be the healthiest. But lets just say my kids have never had to eat anything with a title that ends in “surprise” or “roll up”. At the beginning of the week, when I’ve got an insanely random assortment of Kitchen Koncierge leftovers, I can always find a piece of chicken in the fridge to go with any assortment of fresh vegetables. By Wednesday, I might have to start getting a little more creative, and there may be some more unusual combinations, or some plates that wouldn’t exactly hit all the levels of the food pyramid. By Friday, if I’m not ordering pizza, I’m whipping up an all-time Dow kid favorite, Mac and cheese and wienies. Boom.

As for the KK leftovers, Luke will eat anything, but I usually have to kid it down for Lilah and Colt. What was once beef tips in mushroom wine gravy over rice can be de-gravied under the faucet in my hand (I’m super fancy) and turned into steak and cheese quesadillas. What was presented to my clients as a variety of proteins and vegetables in various forms can be transformed into a pot pie. Because kids eat stuff when it has the word “pie” in it. Using that same trusty hand sieve again, what were Boracho beans for clients can be un-boracho for Dally, the Mean Bean Eating Machine. And finally, my chip enthusiast of a husband can take anything, and I do mean ANYthing (enter the aforementioned beef tip gravy), and turn it into a righteous platter full of nachos to be consumed at any time of the day. He really is a wizard with leftover pork butt or brisket and a big bag of tortilla chips.

I’ve made pizzas out of leftover Pita bread, I’ll stuff pretty much anything into a tortilla with cheese and call it a burrito, and when all else fails, I’m not above the last resort frozen corn dogs (which I’m usually kind enough to nuke before serving) with a side of frozen corn. My friend, Rosanna, who is not exactly known for her careful planning in regards to stocking up on groceries, has even made school lunches out of frozen waffles, cheese, and pepperoni. Her kids still talk about those awesome waffle pizzas.

So the next time you look in the refrigerator and pantry at 6:15 after a long day of work with children losing their marbles in front of your very eyes, take heart. You can always make something out of nothing!

It’s back to school time, and no one knows that more than the moms and dads who have been on the front lines with all their little precious ones all day, every day, for the last 71 days. As we filed into Meet the Teacher Night last week, all the parents exchanged knowing glances as they nodded enthusiastically to the obvious question, “Is everyone ready to go back to school?”

It’s obvious. Nobody can get shit done with all their kids home all day long. They all need stuff, all the time. They want to go places, do things, have friends over, and eat seventeen times a day. I can’t even finish a thought most of the time, let alone accomplish my normal list of chores, work, and errands every week. Hell, yes, I’m ready for them to get on up out of my house and do some learnin’ in some other building than this one!

But the thing is, as much as I’m ready for them to go back to school for the sake of the slightly more quiet house, I’m not sure I’m ready for all the extra work that comes along with it.

There are early mornings. I. Do. Not. Do. Mornings. I’ve tried. But just like I tried to like beer in college, it just hasn’t worked out. Last year, I had it down to a science and could roll out of bed at 7:05 and have my boys fed, dressed, and ready to go by 7:30. This year, we’re adding a third person to the mix, with a different morning attitude, a different uniform, and…

Hair. So long, Days of Summer, in which I can let my daughter wear the same braids in her hair for two or three days. Now I have to fix that shit every morning. Lilah is beautiful and adorable and precious in every way. But, man, does she have terrible hair. It tangles and froes and flies and curls in all the wrong ways, so there’s no running a brush through it on the way out the door and calling it good. At the very least she needs a ponytail, but for all day, she really needs a braid or two to tame that mess. Preferably, a French braid. Unless she’s feeling Dutch, in which case it needs to be a Dutch braid. Unless she’s feeling super high maintenance and it needs to be two Dutch braids. Which means ten to twelve minutes of my life gone forever, standing behind a whining girl who just can’t seem to keep her head still in provide a little resistance.

There are lunches. The lunches at my kids’ school are $4 a piece! So, since my school lunch budget is not $240/month, we pack ’em. This means I have to do things like remember to keep bread and fresh fruit in the house. And it means Scott or I have to remember and make time to pack three perfectly balanced, healthy, adorable, and enticing lunches every day for three, super-easy-to-please little people. I had this grand idea to teach them to pack their own lunches this year, but we all know that’s a) never gonna happen, and b) if it does happen, it’s going to be way more work than just doing it myself.

There’s homework. The dreaded homework hour is enough to make me day drink on a daily basis. We got to where we were a pretty well oiled machine by the end of last year, but this year, we’ll be adding Lilah to the mix. You know, Lilah, who doesn’t know how to identify or write her letters, but she knows everything, so heaven forbid you try to help her or give her any instruction or guidance. Yeah, that Lilah. It’s going to be righteous.

In addition to the regular homework, there are the nineteen thousand papers that will come home every day to be signed. Behavior charts, reading logs, permission slips, office referrals, dress code violations, and tests with the “Sign and Return” stamp on them.

There’s laundry. The laundry has to be done on laundry day, or else I’m going to find myself digging around in laundry baskets at dark thirty looking for uniform bottoms. I only have enough for one full week for everybody, so laundry is back to being important, unlike the days of summer when we all wander around in our underwear for days on end, and beach towels seem to be the only things I wash.

There are events. School events, such as Curriculum Night, Math Night, Spalding Night, choir concerts, and teacher conferences will all soon fill the calendar. Then there are the birthday parties, play dates, and early release day get-togethers that the kids just HAVE to attend or they will surely die.

There’s carpool. I know. I’m back to whining about transporting my kids to and from school. I’m ridiculous. But there’s something so freeing about not having to be anywhere by 7:45 AM, and not having to time the baby’s nap perfectly, lest I have to wake her up mid-slumber to go pick the kids up from school and suffer her wrath. There’s also something to be said for how infrequent my trips to the gas pump are when I’m not spending an hour or more each week, idling in a drop off/pick up line.

So, you see, unloading my kids for seven hours a day may seem blissful, and at this particular moment, when the only child in my charge is asleep and the only sounds I hear are that of the rain, the washing machine, and a completed to-do list being wadded up and thrown away, it really kind of is. But while I celebrate the return of structure, routine, and order to our lives, the lazy person in me is mourning the loss of sleeping in, trough-style feeding, free-range children, and not reading for twenty minutes every night.

Have a great year, everyone, and God bless our teachers!

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The other day, Colt, deeply involved in one of his famous imagination games, complete with costumes, roles, and plot lines, paused long enough to ask me, “Mommy, if you could have any super power, what would it be?”

I’m more than certain that he was completely devastated by my incredibly boring and unimaginative response: “I would have the ability to close my eyes and see where lost things are so I could find them.” Clearly, it wasn’t what he was looking for.

“Well, mine would be shape shifting,” Colt tells me. Again, much to his dismay, I had to ask what that even was.

But getting back to my super power, as boring as it may sound, I know I’m not the only mom to have this desire to be able to find all the lost things. I come by it naturally. My mom has always had a bit of an obsession with finding lost things. She can’t just let it go and call it a loss after a quick search. She will dig for hours, sometimes in the depths of the attic, trying to locate something she just knows she would never have thrown away. I’m pretty sure a little part of her died inside every time one of my siblings or I lost something of our own, like a toy or article of clothing. I distinctly remember a months-long saga involving a jean jacket I owned that could not be located, and actual tears streaming down both our faces when I finally found it on a stupid boy in my class that had no idea the jacket with puffed sleeves he was wearing totally wasn’t his. It was very dramatic.

I’m definitely not as obsessive about lost things as my mom, and am much quicker to throw in the towel and call the thing lost. After all, we live in a society where everything is disposable and replaceable.

Things gets lost. I know it and accept it. For me, it’s a little piece of paper that I had scribbled something important on and likely got shuffled in to the trash by accident. Occasionally I have a pair of underwear or a pair of slippers that get shoved so far under my bed that I don’t unearth them for many laundry days. To me, those things make sense.

What I really have a hard time wrapping my brain around are the things my kids lose. It simply does not make sense to me how one loses a shoe. Not temporarily. Like, forever. Not a shoe that’s shoved way under the bed and just has to be found. I mean, the shoe is gone. Articles of clothing. How do you lose a pair of shorts? Weren’t you wearing them? Or a sandwich. How does that vanish from thin air? How many places could you have possibly had a sandwich?

I can’t imagine how many things I don’t know about that my kids left in Mexican cabs this summer, but at the very least, it’s a pair of flip flops, a Star Wars hat, a pair of headphones, a beach towel, and a wooden flute.

I suppose I understand how a five year old girl who acts like a five year old boy can lose an earring from time to time. What I do not understand is how she has about ten single earrings, and one or two complete pairs. I think I’m going to try to help her set a trend for mix and match earrings.

And speaking of pairs, I know this is not a problem unique to my household, but seriously. Where. Do. All. The. Socks. Go?!?!?!?

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Our kids’ school has a Facebook page that occasionally posts pictures of their lost and found collection. The last one showed a plethora of things, to include FIVE pairs of glasses! Prescription eyeglasses!! How is it that five sets of parents had their kid come home from school, unable to see, and decided to run right out to the special hell that is the eyeglasses store, and plunk down a couple hundred bucks for a new pair without bothering to hound and stalk everyone at the school where the child last had his glasses?! The number of $40 uniform sweaters in these pictures is also alarming. And don’t even get me started on the backpacks and lunch boxes. Why don’t kids notice when they’re walking out of school empty-handed, without the very vessel for all their tangible proof of knowledge?

My kids (and most of the kids I know) are definitely held to a different standard of personal responsibility than I was as a child, and that’s not necessarily something I’m proud of. That being said, my kids, two in particular, are very different children than I was, and certain expectations I may envision are just not realistic. But that doesn’t explain why I have found the living room TV remote in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Or why I regularly find half eaten bananas, half eaten granola bars, and half finished bottles or cups of liquid, baking away in the third row of my car. Or why my friend once found her car keys packed up in a box of Christmas ornaments.

I suppose I don’t have much room to talk. I had a 23′ box on wheels disappear on my watch, but then again, it wasn’t because I left it somewhere I couldn’t remember. (I could use my special super power to find our trailer! And the wedding ring Scott lost in the river less than six months into our marriage.)

What would your super power be?

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you’re very well aware that our family had the privilege of spending just over a week in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It was wonderful. I had no idea it would be so beautiful, so exciting, so scenic, and so entertaining for all of us. We got to stay in the childhood summer home of our dear friend, got the inside scoop on all the happenings around town by his local mother, took our kids on all kinds of adventures around town, and even had the benefit of three date nights, thanks to a wonderful sitter in the neighborhood. It truly was a fabulous experience, one none of us will ever forget.

But as with all trips, we had to get there.

Since we were booked for Europe in June, six plane tickets to Mexico City weren’t really an option. So we worked out a plan to take some nice buses to San Miguel. Just purchasing the tickets could be a whole other blog in itself, but in the end, we had a plan to drive our cars to Laredo, leave them parked at a hotel at which we had booked a room for the night, take the hotel shuttle to the border, walk everyone and our stuff across to Nuevo Laredo, take cabs to the bus station, ride the bus from Nuevo Laredo to Queretaro, where a driver in a 15-passenger van would pick us up and take us to our door in San Miguel. What could possibly go wrong?

It actually went quite well, all things considered. Obtaining our visas at the border was a lot like that scene in Zootopia where they are at the DMV where only sloths work. At one point, we watched as one man painstakingly stapled papers together, sometimes twice, for each member of our party, only to take them one door over to another man who painstakingly detached every stapled document. The bureaucracy is mind-boggling.

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After a cab ride in two sketchy cabs in which Dally tried with all her might to climb from my lap and out the window (all my car seat friends are freaking out right now!) we made it to the bus station about twelve minutes before it departed. We loaded and left, and thus began our battle to get Dally to stop screaming and go to sleep.

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It only took two doses of Melatonin and a very messy administration of Children’s Benadryl, but finally, around midnight, we got her to throw in the towel and fall asleep.

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She only woke up, screaming out, every twenty minutes or so thereafter, but I’m sure no one else on the bus minded. Aside from the complete lack of sleep, the fact that the temperature of the bus resembled a warm tortilla, and the roads in Mexico + the shocks on the bus = a ride so bumpy your teeth rattled, it was a pretty uneventful bus ride.

We finally arrived at Grandma Sharon’s condo at 7:00 AM, starving and exhausted, made a quick breakfast, and passed out for a few hours before starting our adventures in San Miguel.

We had a great time, it’s very beautiful there, yada yada yada, I ate twenty million Gorditas.

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Nobody wants to hear about our time in the beautiful city. You really want to hear about our journey back. Seriously. You do.

It began eight days later at 7:30 PM when our passenger van showed up to take us back to Queretero. We arrived at the bus station with just enough time to buy tortas for everyone, and get hassled by a very drunk man before boarding the bus. The bus ride started out fairly smoothly, and half of the kids fell asleep within an hour or two of our departure, including Dally. (Cheers to finding the right cocktail for baby sleep earlier this time!) Gabe, Rosanna, Scott, and I all settled in with our bus time dessert of rum and Coke and Oreos, and I even fell asleep for a little bit.

This bus ride seemed to have a lot more stops that our trip down. Every time we stopped, all the lights came on, and someone either got off or got on, we all woke up, and then headed down the road again. This happened several times, and then at 3:00 AM, I awoke to a uniformed guy standing over us asking for passports and visas. I presume we were at some sort of check point, but nonetheless, it’s an interesting way to wake up on a bus. Again, the lights all came on, and Dally woke up, but despite being awake so much through the night, she seemed in good spirits and kept the screaming to a very low minimum.

Just after the officer got off the bus, we were informed by the driver that the AC wasn’t cycling off (fine by me!) which the bus couldn’t handle while driving in the mountains, and we were at risk of overheating. As a result, he would be shutting off the AC until we got to our next stop, at which point we would be switching buses. In four hours.

It got hotter and hotter until we finally reached Monterrey at 6:45 AM, unloaded every person, all their things, and our luggage from below, and boarded a new bus. Now all the kids were awake, and they were pissed off and hungry. But there was no McDonald’s on the bus. They passed around a box of dry cereal like it was crack, Dally screamed bloody murder, and three short hours later, we arrived an hour late to a different bus stop in Nuevo Laredo.

We got off the bus, ready to hail three cabs to take us across the border, as our group was returning with an additional two Rubbermaid totes and two bags big enough to hold adult bodies in them full of newly purchased wares. But as we got off the bus, a man began explaining to Gabe that he could take us all across in his Greyhound bus, we could stay together, and the luggage wouldn’t be a problem. It would only cost us $100. No wait, $60. Yes, $60 got our attention, and so that’s what the price was. We decided this sounded less sketchy than having two cabs with only one adult witness in them, and so we pooled pesos and American dollars to come up with $60. We boarded the new bus, which was decidedly different from our ETN bus, but told ourselves this would just be a short trip across the border. This was at 9:45 AM.

At 10:20, the bus finally began to move. We all got excited for this final leg of our trip home… until we stopped at a different bus station across the street, only to wait a little longer for more people to board.

I hadn’t anticipated being on this bus for very long, and hadn’t gone to the bathroom before getting off our nice bus. Scott took one look at the bathroom on the Greyhound, which I will hereafter refer to as the Tetanus bus, and without any elaboration, he looked at me and said, “NO.”

We continued to wait on the Tetanus bus, and then finally got going toward the border. Scott’s seat broke every time he shifted his weight. The smell was, um, special. Every surface cried out for Lysol. Worse, since none of us had eaten, Luke hadn’t had his medicine yet, and was literally climbing on everything. He was on the floor. The nasty, sticky, disgusting floor. The kids’ pillows were being used as dust rags on everything. The seats’ upholstery was a cornucopia of colors, telling a story of all the various fluids that had been absorbed there over the last two decades. It was heavenly.

We finally made it to the border, and as we looked out the window in front, the line of cars didn’t seem too bad. But then the bus turned off behind some other buses, and we realized we would go through a special bus lane. Gabe suggested we might have an officer come on board to check everyone out, or have some drug dogs sniff through our luggage, but it shouldn’t take too long.

The bus stopped, and we were informed to get everyone and everything off the bus. Everything. All ten of us struggled to drag pillows, backpacks, car seats, totes, and luggage to a line that looked like something at Mexican Sea World. It was all outside, and it was long. We would drag all our people and bags through this line, show passports, and then drag it all back to the bus, which would now be parked in a parking lot far, far away. It was defeating, to say the least.

We made it through, and as we all came out on the other side, I noticed a large set of portable buildings with bathrooms. After all this waiting on the Tetanus bus and through customs, I needed to go, and apparently so did Lilah, Luke, and Colt. We headed over to the portables, not knowing the last of our innocence was about to be lost.

I peeked into the first available bathroom and immediately stepped back out. It looked as if someone had turned on a fire hose in there, but not one that spewed water. The next one wasn’t much better. Door #3 appeared to be the best option, and so we stepped inside, quickly realizing that for our own safety and welfare, we would be doing all this with the door more than slightly ajar.

Y’all, I have used port a potties at Fiesta events, but nothing could have prepared me for this.

Colt went first, and I held Lilah’s hands in mine, lest they accidentally brush against something awful. It was during this time that I looked down to see an overflowing trash can with thirty-seven shades of other people’s poo on all the wadded up balls of toilet paper. I have no words to describe this moment in my life. I closed my eyes, did NOT take a deep breath, and hurried Colt out the door with his pants still unzipped. Lilah was next, and as the toilet seat was covered with fluids we weren’t going to touch, I squatted precariously over the toilet, cradling her sideways in my arms, praying she was aimed south enough not to pee all over my arm.

I waited for the pee. And waited.

“Lilah, are you pooping?!”

“Yeah?”

This child can poop anywhere, I swear. And that apparently includes the world’s most disgusting hot box of a bathroom on the Mexican border, suspended in the air by her poor Mommy.

It was at this time that I hung my head in exasperation, looked down, and saw that about an inch away from my squatting ankle was a full on man turd, stuck to the wall. I just don’t even want to know how that happened.

I figured Lilah could only get dirtier by wiping herself with anything in that bathroom, and so she was sent out the door, with a poopy butt and her pants down. Luke went next, and I stood, gagging, rushing him along, fearing this place might be the death of me. I finally got to go, and believe you me, I hovered as high above that toilet seat as physics would allow. I shook, flung the door the rest of the way open, and stepped out, pants unzipped, eyes watering, with a look on my face that made Scott and I both avoid eye contact with each other for an hour afterward. I think this must be what people feel like after doing hard time in prison.

We loaded everyone and everything back onto the Tetanus bus, and took inventory of the cash we had left. We had $22. Would this be enough to bribe the bus driver to bypass the Greyhound station and take our group to the hotel where our cars were (hopefully still) parked? At this point, it was nearly noon. Our children were out of Fruit Loops, nobody had had coffee, let alone brushed their teeth. We were sweating, cranky, unmedicated, and so very, very done.

The bus got going before we had a chance to present him with the offer, and so we decided that once we arrived at the bus station, Scott and Gabe would run to grab the closest cab to the hotel, and return quickly with our cars. Rosanna and I would just hang out with our six, super happy kids and our thirty-seven bags of crap.

The guys found a cart on which to load all our luggage, but soon found out it came with a price. There was a man from the Greyhound station who wouldn’t let us take the cart anywhere to wait for the guys, and he insisted on calling the guys a cab which would take ten minutes to arrive (while there were cabs we could see across the street, ready and waiting.) We watched as the cab driver tipped the Greyhound guy, and sat inside yet another super-sanitary bus station, looking out at the man who had commandeered all our worldly possessions on the cart. This was all adding to our wait time, but the good news was he had told the guys to just drive right up here, and we could load and go without having to move everything again.

Something worth noting… right after switching to bus two of three in Monterrey, Lilah had puked in Dally’s car seat. After seeing Dally wander around in a 16-hour old diaper and shorts soaked in her sister’s vomit, we’d ditched her pants. So poor Dally did bus #3, outdoor customs hell, and the Greyhound station in Laredo in a diaper and sandals. I resolved to research how to safely bleach your children as soon as I got in the car.

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After a half hour or so of watching Luke lick things that were attached to the metal chairs in the bus station, and trying to semi-bathe kids in the bathroom sink, the guys finally returned with our cars. They pulled up, and immediately three men came running at them, saying they couldn’t park here.

We were on hour 17 of this hellacious adventure and we were all fresh out of fucks to give. These Greyhound guys weren’t going to make us move anything anywhere. We literally threw children and bags into either car as fast as we could, and squealed out of that bus station like it was on fire. We were so hell bent on getting as far away from Laredo as possible that we didn’t even stop for food until Cotulla, about an hour and a half away.

On the way home, I planned out the most efficient way to scrub down six people the moment we walked in the door, and made a mental note of what pillows and blankets would be burned without further discussion. I feel like we should maybe get Tetanus shots and some kind of immunity booster this week, and I’m not even a germaphobe kind of person.

Thank goodness our time in San Miguel was amazing, or all of this may not have been worth it. We learned and lot, and will likely plan a few things a little differently the next time the Sheltons are stupid enough to let the Dows follow them to Mexico.

As I have added to my brood over the years, my dependability has waned a bit. But one thing I can always be counted on for are Public Service Blogs. These are the days in which I do the parenting public a service by sharing my day for the sole purpose of making the aforementioned parenting public feel so much more amazingly about their own capabilities. This is one of those days, and while it may sound like hyperbole for me to say it was the longest day of the year, this time, I have the Summer Solstice on my side. It’s my one and only win for the day.

It was a regular cooking day with all the kids home, which isn’t anything new around here. It was all going well until my trusty sidekick left my side on a quick errand. I seemed to think it was possible to put the finishing touches on my s’mores bars while making myself a little breakfast. Wrong. I know not to walk away from the broiler. I know not to walk away from the broiler. I know not to walk away from the boiler. But I did it. To say the marshmallow layer on top of the bars was burned would be like saying it gets a little hot in Texas in the summer. There was fire, y’all. Kind of a big one. Thankfully, my mother-in-law gave me some hot pads that allow you to touch the sun one Christmas, so I was able to grab the fiery pan out from under the broiler and do some fancy waving and blowing to get the fire out, no fire extinguisher needed. (Good thing, because I’m not entirely sure I’d know how to operate that thing.)

After the fire, I sent Scott for more marshmallows and did my best to wrap up the cooking portion of my day. Scott gathered up Lilah and Colt and headed off to the Bexar County Appraisal District for our annual “You think my house is worth what?!” conversation. Right about the time of his appointment, I heard a bing on my phone and saw that I had a voice mail from Great Hearts. Intrigued, I listened. “We were expecting Lilah at Kinder Academy this afternoon and just wanted to be sure she would be attending this week.” What. A. Failure. In the chaos of cooking and appraising, I had forgotten the most important thing on our docket today, Lilah’s first day at Kinder Academy. We had paid for it, registered for it, and prepared for it in more ways than one. But then we forgot to actually get her there.

I called Scott, he asked for a rescheduling until 3:00, rushed Lilah home where we changed her into her uniform, and rushed her over to Great Hearts only an hour and fifteen minutes late for her two hour and forty-five minute camp. Awesome.

In the meantime, the Kinder Academy drama had slowed my progress, and I was no longer on track to be loaded and delivering in time to make my first delivery before 2:00. So as soon as Scott got home from dropping Lilah off, I sent him on the delivery. You’ll never guess where the house was located. Yep, literally touching the parking lot of Great Hearts. I can just imagine somebody up in heaven, laughing and laughing at us.

I got started on my deliveries, and had fun things like spilled soup to contend with, while Scott went back to pick Lilah up, and carried on with the rest of the kids back to BCAD to try to negotiate our taxes, which everyone knows is Scott’s strong suit. Bless him, he held out and we’ll be doing this same song and dance next week at the same time in our formal hearing. I can’t wait.

As I got down to my last two deliveries, I had one that I was to meet south, and one that I was to meet north, and neither of them were answering their phones. I finally reached one, got to our meeting spot, waited about ten minutes while I scheduled the next one, got out of the car with the food, expecting her at any minute, and then got a text: “We’re on our way!” Great. By the time she arrived, I had thirty-five minutes to arrive ten minutes late to my next meeting in Selma, and then get all the way back home for a 4:00 pick up. Isn’t it crazy how the traffic and lights work when you’re in a hurry? It just never fails. But somehow, against all odds, I pulled up in front of my house at 4:01, just in time to get my pick-up order ready before he made it to my door, lest anyone see the inside of my house on a cooking day.

We still have a little ways to go before we can stick a fork in this day and call it done, but I am hoping the rest of this day isn’t as challenging as the first part.

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Isn’t this precious, sleeping angel beautiful? I think she is. The fact that she’s sleeping makes her even more beautiful to me than anything else on the planet.

Today this precious angel has made my life a living nightmare from the moment I got home from the race I ran this morning, until the sweet hour of 7:30 this evening. She has entered the most adorably awful stage of Pre-Terrible-Two Toddler Independent Defiance Volume Disorder, in which she screams about anything and everything for all of her waking hours. Lilah went through it. We barely survived. And now, not coincidentally immediately after we ditched her ass for nine days with my sister to go flitting off to Europe like a couple of fools, she has maintained a koala-like physical attachment to either Scott or I, in addition to a persistent screaming effort for every moment of the day. It’s simply delightful to watch her grow and develop in this wonderful way.

Every morning, we cower under our sheets when we hear The Beast awaken, and begin counting down the minutes until her naptime. Since Scott left town this afternoon, she decided to call an audible and alter her normal three hour nap to a much shorter 45-minute version. Imagine the overwhelming joy I felt at getting to spend even more devoted, quality time with my little presh.

Since Scott was gone for the night, it would be me and my full entourage on my weekly HEB shopping trip- the one where I buy everything to cook my menu for 30 people. I was so anxious about how it would go that I left the house in too-short shorts, rubber flip flops that I usually only wear around the house, a t-shirt, no bra, and a wet bun. And yet I remembered all the kids. Hmm.

Anyway, I can honestly say that I feel confident that I got to see the seventh circle of hell today in that grocery store. There weren’t enough donuts, pacifers, baby dolls, or bible school songs in the world to keep that child happy. The fact that I had three others in tow, two of whom were fighting over pushing the second basket, often onto my unsuspecting ankles, made our shopping train from hell even more of a spectacle in the crowded, Saturday afternoon HEB, as I tried to navigate my way through a lengthy list. (And yet not enough of a spectacle for people to yield to us. Seriously- if I see a mom with three kids and one wild animal with two baskets in HEB, I will slip her a bottle of wine and clear traffic for her myself!) I’m sure I don’t need to mention that a second trip will be in order tomorrow to get the four things I forgot today. Goodness, where was my head?!

After muddling our way through every slowly-passing minute of the afternoon and crossing into evening, the end was in sight. One extremely loud trip to pick up pizza, a few bites and a cup of milk later, and we finally crossed the finish line. This sweet little girl lost her shit over nothing for the 400th time today, only this time was different. This time, it was bed time!

As we sit now, huddled together in my bedroom in a terrified silence, some of us with a few fingers of 80 proof in our cups, hoping against hope that nothing wakes her from her slumber, we pray for tomorrow morning’s slow approach. And we pray for the poor, unsuspecting teenagers who volunteer in the church nursery. And maybe an extra long sermon.

Goodnight, sweet angel!

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