Things That Will Definitely Most Likely Happen While I’m Out of Town

Let me preface this by disclosing that my husband has always been the most capable father. No duty of parenthood is too much or too overwhelming for him. He’s never shied away from the tough stuff. When the kids were little, it was middle of the night bottles, unreasonable tantrums, snot of a color not found in nature, explosive poop situations – Bob handled them all. Well, most of them all. Sometimes, the explosive poop stuff was a two-parent job. We always had a safe word when in a situation like this. I’m pretty sure most parents probably have this, maybe? A word you holler when faced with a predicament that is entirely too much for one person to manage? Ours was “backup.” We’d yell, “BACKUP!” when the situation was too horrific for just one adult. “Backup! BACKUP! BACK! UP!” It’s a marriage mandate that the other parent starts running immediately.

Anyway, my point is, Bob is perfectly capable but also he is not me. More than thirteen years of co-parenting with him has taught me this.

I’m traveling for the next five days which means Bob is free to parent in his… style. This also means, certain things are virtually guaranteed to happen in my absence.

1. A kid will throw up. This is number one on the list because it’s just science. I can’t explain it but one thing that is absolutely, positively, guaranteed to happen while I’m out of town is vomit. The very second the door latch clicks on a parent headed out on a trip, someone’s stomach begins to hurt. It’s like death and taxes. The last time this happened, Bob texted me a picture of throw up on Charlie’s bedroom floor so don’t ever tell me that romance is dead.

2. It’s a given that Bob will let the two youngest kids sleep on my side of the king bed every night while I’m gone and I’ll return to weird kid crud and my pillow will smell funny. There will be granola bar wrappers in the sheets. I’ll find Barbie parts and, seemingly self-replicating, stuffed animals all over the comforter. (But, seriously. Where do the stuffed animals COME FROM?) Brushing aside almost a week’s worth of kid flotsam before climbing into bed will not spark joy.

3. The two already overripe avocados in the produce basket will still be in the produce basket. Just five days ripier.

4. Bob will let the kids rent a movie on Amazon to watch that is either

a. One we already own on DVD or

b. Available for free on Netflix.

5. Every piece of storage Tupperware we own will be in the refrigerator. Every. Single. One. One will hold a single strawberry. Another, a single lemon slice. One will be crammed full with half of a pizza from the first night I was gone. One will, inexplicably, be an actual stainless steel cooking pot with a lid holding leftover oatmeal WHICH, BY THE WAY BOB, A POT IS NOT AN APPROVED LEFTOVER CONTAINER TO BE PLACED IN THE FRIDGE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND DECENT.

6. I’m going to be honest and say that the groceries could go either way here. Bob will either

a. Not go grocery shopping, just winging it until my return so the morning he runs back to the safety and quiet of work and I’m standing in front of the fridge trying to pack three lunchboxes and the only thing I can find is a Tupperware container with two mushrooms inside, I’m cursing him, his offspring, and his entire family line or

b. Bob WILL go grocery shopping with the kids and we already know how that will turn out.

7. There will be a full load of clothes in the dryer. There will also probably be stacks of folded clothes on the dining room table, too.

8. Bob will buy random things for the kids at Target, Dicks, and/or Walmart. So, true story about Bob. A few months ago, while on my way to work, I asked Bob to hit up Home Depot for a new garbage can. It was a relatively painless task and I even gave him a store credit to put towards it that we needed to use up. When I got home later that day, there was – and I’m not even exaggerating a little here – a pile of lumber in our foyer. Naturally, I was all, “Hey, can anyone provide some insight on the 2x4s blocking the front door?” From the basement, I hear Millie reply excitedly, “Dad’s building me a balance beam!” I deep sighed and replied, “Come again now?” But, it was true. Bob had purchased $80 worth of lumber, screws, and bolts to build Millie a balance beam of her very own. So cool, right! Such a Fun Dad. Counterpoint though, balance beams aren’t made out of raw lumber because: splinters. “We’re going to sand it REAL good,” was the absolutely expected reply when I expressed concern. When I asked about the new garbage can, Bob said he got overwhelmed buying the balance beam stuff and didn’t get the garbage can. “I also forgot about the store credit, sorry,” he replied while shrugging his shoulders. I can’t wait to see what I return to on Sunday. I can only assume Charlie will finally own that chainsaw he’s been after.

9. Like vomit, I anticipate a trip to urgent care for someone while I’m gone. This happened the last time I went out of town and I just figure this copay is inevitable. When I left this morning, two of the four family members I left behind had bad colds and a third is recovering from pneumonia so the odds are pretty good on this one.

GODSPEED AND GOOD LUCK, BOB.

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Just Feed Them Whatever YOU Eat, They Said

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Sunday: Pizza

I love making pizzas on Sundays. Mostly because it takes forever and I usually have the luxury of time on Sundays. There’s cheese to shred and sauce to make and toppings to prep and dough to flour and stretch. Homemade pizza will absolutely, hands-down be the food highlight of the week for my family. It can – and will – only go down from here.

Bob – “This is delicious pizza! That broccoli topping is crazy good.”
Millie – “This is amazing! You are amazing! Did you make more than one pizza? Two? Only two? Okay then. Can I take the leftovers in my lunch tomorrow though?”
Henry – “THE BROCCOLI JUST DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. YOU DON’T PUT BROCCOLI ON PIZZA.”
Charlie – “So, is this sauce the spicy sauce? Because sometimes we have pizza that has spicy sauce on it and I don’t care for the sauce that is spicy. But, if this sauce isn’t spicy, I’ll like it. As long as it isn’t spicy.”

Monday: TACOS!

If I had my act together, we would have tacos on Tuesday because Taco Tuesday is more alliterative than Taco Monday but I never, ever have my act together. Ever. So, Taco Monday it is! Because EVERYONE loves tacos! EVERYONE!

Bob – Piles plate high with romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and several fresh vegetables managing to make me feel awful about all of the tacos on my plate, of which there are many tacos.
Millie – Inaudible words in between grunts of satisfaction as she shovels tortilla chips piled with taco fillings in her face.
Henry – “I just invented cheese tacos! Just taco shells! With nothing but cheese! That’s it! So easy!”
Charlie – “I’ll take the rice.” Covers the rice in ketchup before eating.

Tuesday: Spaghetti

I’ve been making my mother’s spaghetti sauce recipe for years and it is unbelievably delicious. I grew up eating a lot of spaghetti and just the smell of the sauce simmering on the stove conjures up wonderful memories of my entire family – sisters, brother, parents – gathered around the kitchen table in our home in Indiana laughing and talking and sharing stories. Those are some of my favorite memories from my childhood. It’s a really good sauce is my point here. Also, it is literally deconstructed pizza and the kids love pizza so…

Bob – “Red sauce sometimes irritates my stomach so just maybe a tablespoon or less of that, please.”
Millie – “YUM!”
Henry – “Nope. Nope-ity, nope, nope.”
Charlie – “Just plain noodles for me.” Covers the noodles in ketchup before eating.

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner

I am a cool mom and cool moms sometimes throw caution to the wind and get all wild and stuff and fix BREAKFAST FOR DINNER. Woo-hoo! And, sometimes, we even fix breakfast for dinner when daddy ISN’T EVEN OUT OF TOWN. Pancakes for everyone!

Bob – “Um, yeah, so I’m just going to fix myself a salad.”
Millie – “THIS IS SO FUN!”
Henry – Reluctantly eats a couple of syrup-less pancakes knowing full well he’ll return to the kitchen an hour before bed and fix a plate of something coated entirely in peanut butter.
Charlie – “So, are these regular pancakes? Or, the pancakes that have those little bits of apple in them? Because I can taste those little bits of apple and I don’t really like those little bits of apples that you put in the pancakes so I really hope there isn’t little bits of apple in these.” Covers the pancakes in 1/4 cup of syrup before eating.

Thursday: Soup and Sandwich Night!

I’m running out of steam. And, love for my family.

Bob – “Hold the mayo!” This seems more a lunch than a dinner but I’m going to honor my wife’s hard work and the sheer determination it takes for her to feed her family many times a day. I will devour this soup and gamely eat this turkey sandwich. As long as it’s on that healthy bread I like that has all those nuts and seeds. The kind that makes the kids cry when it’s all that’s left for toast.
Millie – “I just love ALL of this. Soup! Sandwiches! What a GREAT combination! Did you think of this yourself?”
Henry – “So, you’re suggesting a grilled cheese but with, like, turkey on it? Let me think about it.”
Charlie – “I’ll be in my room.”

Friday: Chicken Nuggets (Or, fish sticks or, any sort of protein here really as long as it’s coated in bread and/or brown in color) & Tator Tots

Because we (and by we, I’m referring exclusively to my self-esteem) badly need a win at this point.

Bob – It’s Friday. I can tell she’s getting tired.
Millie – “I’m never moving out. Promise me you’ll cook for me forever.”
Henry – “TATOR TOTS! MY FAVORITE!”
Charlie – “Which kind of chicken nuggets are these because sometimes, I don’t really like the kind of chicken nuggets you get. Do you know the chicken nuggets I’m talking about? The chicken nuggets that look just like these chicken nuggets but they’re a little different kind of chicken nuggets? Those are the chicken nuggets that I’m not really a fan of. Are these those chicken nuggets?” Starts guzzling ketchup directly from the bottle.

Saturday: Just… here’s two heels from a loaf of bread. 

2018 Manifesto

1. I will CALM DOWN about October. The arrival of fall fleece weather causes such a frenzy of excitement that I over-schedule every corner of October to take maximum advantage of no longer sweating the instant I open my front door. October then becomes this giant blur. It begins with a couple of mums on the front porch, a giant scarf around my neck and the first hot beverage of the season but it always seems to end in a frantic fit of exhaustion and shame when my kids find me shoving one more snack size Kit Kat in my mouth before I set fire to all of their Halloween candy whilst yelling, “WE FORGOT TO GO TO AN APPLE ORCHARD!” October is crafty in that it promotes itself as this super chill month full of deep breaths and crisp fall air but in actuality, you never stop moving the entire time before tumbling into November and then Thanksgiving which bleeds into the December holidays and then you wake up sometime in January five pounds heavier with wrapping paper stuck to your pajamas. It all begins innocuous enough. I’m on to you, October and I will not fall prey this year.

2. I will step away from the news at regular intervals so as not to fall into a pit of depression and despair, believing that the destruction of mankind is imminent and all hope has been lost.

3. I will invest in me.

*insert tremendous eyeroll here*

But, lo, I am firmly in my forties now and no longer as physically resilient as I once was. Basically, stuff on my person hurts. So, this year, I’m striving to fix what’s broken. That means, I’m going to wear the stupid brace at night to help alleviate the carpal tunnel syndrome I developed while growing three children with my body. I’m also going to do the stretching I’m supposed to do to help alleviate the plantar fasciitis I developed from excessive hiking to get some alone time away from the three children I grew with my body. I’m going to make the appointments and take the supplements and drink the water and get that weird bump behind my ear looked at so I can be as healthy as I can be for me and for the three children that wrecked everything when I grew them with my body.

4. I will finally figure out how to make the theme song from “Parks and Recreation” be my phone’s ringtone because it is delightful. I should probably ask Henry how to do this, better preparing him for the years and years he’ll spend down the road exasperatingly troubleshooting technology for his parents.

5. I will make a HUGE punch list of the home improvement items around this house that need to get accomplished so we can actually accomplish them. Bob and I talk all the time about our to-do list, casually mentioning over breakfast that the laundry room needs painting or the basement curtains are still waiting to be hung or the crack in the hallway needs patching. Frankly, someone needs to write all of this stuff down because we are easily distracted and inevitably one of us gets busy with something else or decides to take a nap or retreats with a book or goes shopping instead, forgetting all about the laundry room, the basement and the hallway. Then, the next weekend, we LITERALLY have the very same discussion about the things that need to get done around the house. It’s all very counter-productive. Bob asked for some sort of a master list some months ago so we can go room by room as time permits to complete the work and I love a good checklist so I’m going to make this happen. I’ll probably laminate it, to be honest.

6. I will show my kids new places and new things. As much as I love to lament parenthood, I think my kids are pretty much the coolest people on the planet. They’re so interesting and they love to learn and are so curious and they’re getting easier and more fun to take out in public. Bob set a goal of traveling into the city frequently this year to show them a new museum or exhibit and I’ve set a goal of two vacations with them to places that none of us have traveled before. This year, I really want to focus on more experiences and less stuff.

(I’m also in that post-Christmas deep regret stage as I try to organize and find space for the hoard of presents I brought into our home so, we’ll see how this one pans out is all.)

7. I will be generous with my time, resources and talent. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to better the lives of those around me. Not just for my husband and my children, but looking beyond that. I’d like to figure out how to extend generosity – in whatever form that takes – farther out in the circle. I have a certain set of talents and expertise and I have friends that are extremely talented and super smart in other things and sometimes, I feel like if we could just pool our gifts, combine our resources, we could make lives better. Easier. Lovelier. Kinder. For ourselves and for others. I’m going to figure out how to build that community of generosity this year. I feel like the world could use a lot more of it.

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