Thursday, June 21, 2012

Desert animals

When you're contemplating parenthood, you wonder about your future children. What you'll name them. Who's eyes they'll have. Whether they'll like soccer, like your husband, or theater, like you do. What the odds are of said children being born with a raging case of ADHD just like you. And so on.

All of my children have blue eyes. The oldest looks the most like her father, the middle one an odd mix of me and my father in law's side of the family, and the baby is still a mixed bag. They did not, however, inherit my heat tolerance.

I love it when it's hot. We took a pre-kid family trip to Las Vegas back in 2006 and it didn't dip below 104 the entire trip. Not even at two in the morning. The only time I really didn't like it was at the Hoover Dam, where it was a tropical 117 degrees Fahrenheit on the dam wall (you see what I did there?). This is in direct contradiction to Tim, who spent most of the trip ducking into air conditioned casino entryways seeking relief from the oven they call The Strip in July.

So every year, around mid June, Tim and I start the great Air Conditioner Debate. He'd have them installed in March if he had his way. And I love breezes through the curtains and hate when we install the window units, in part due to the increased electrical bill, but mostly because you cannot run the large window unit, the fridge and the dishwasher simultaneously and I always forget that until the lights in the kitchen go off and I have to rummage around the fuse box. We've been here five years and I do it at least once every summer.

In 2009 we had a mild summer and I think I had my way until late July, when we finally installed the blasted appliances. Last year I was the size of a small walrus and was trying to heft the damned things over my million-years-pregnant stomach and install them myself. (You're welcome for that charming mental image.)

Yesterday it hit 100 degrees inside the house. That's when I discovered my four and two year old are kind of like feral dogs in the summertime. They were snapping at each other over even more minor stuff than usual, and the Sassy Backtalk index was at an all time high. The baby was crying and developing a case of prickly heat. I thought it would cool off at night. It did not. My husband got home and I remembered where my children got that Feral Reaction to Heat from. Finally, at 11 p.m., he'd had enough.

"It's a million [expletive deleted] degrees in this [expletive deleted] bedroom," he said, after picking a fight with me over nothing. "Where is the air conditioner?!"

"The shed?" I offered feebly, as the baby started up in the other room again.

"[Expletive deleted]," as he headed for the back yard. Ten minutes later, the bedroom was cooler, my husband was happier, and the baby was sleeping after I moved the little fan approximately six centimeters from the side of her crib so she could sleep in its oscillating benevolence until at least the crack of dawn.

Today was another scorcher. I pulled the shades, turned on all the fans for circulation and turned on the vents in the kitchen and bathroom to suck as much hot air out of the house as possible. (Spoiler: this only works if the air that is then circulating in your home is NOT STILL HOT AS HADES.) Around 1 p.m. I was debating inventing some family emergency to get Tim home and installing the large window unit in the dining room, when I got a text from my neighbor.

"Do you guys want to come swimming?"


Will you marry me?

We spent the next four hours swimming, playing with the neighbors and generally not being in our house. When we walked back in around 5:30 to start dinner, I acknowledged that I probably could have just simmered something on the tile floor rather than bother with the stove.

Tim got home at 6:15.

The large air conditioner was humming away by 6:30. Man didn't even eat before hauling that thing into the dining room.

It's 7:35 and still hot as an oven. That's how warm it had gotten. The air conditioner is set to 60.

So Tim won this summer's round without even trying.

Now it's onto the next.

Because once it gets a little cooler than "blistering," I'll have that thing set at 75 or 80 every. single. day.

"We don't need it set to 65! It's summer! It's supposed to be warm!"

"Warm! It's hot as [expletive deleted] in here!"

We love each other.

In sickness and in Hell.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Domestic CEO

I've been a full time stay at home mom (excluding running kids' parties on the weekends) since October 2010. However, since I got pregnant with Lily approximately five minutes after quitting my job at the bank and spent the next ten months not sleeping, not eating properly and alternately throwing up or feeling like I was going to throw up, I feel like my first year of proper stay at home parenthood began sometime in late 2011. Not that I was sleeping any more then, mind you, but the pregnancy fatigue/residual PTSD from being screamed at by bank customers/novelty was over and the actual reality of what I had signed myself up for came streaming in. (Typo fun: That initially accidentally read "steaming in," which it sometimes does as well.)

There have been countless blogs about how motherhood is a "real job" and how people who stay at home are actually working, and those bloggers are absolutely right, but this is not exactly that post, because it's been said before and better. And while I used to roll my eyes at terms like "domestic CEO" or "Captain of the Lastname Family," there is a truth that the first year, you spend learning your job, and the second year, you really know the ins and outs of things.

My husband could easily stay at home and take care of the kids, but if he started tomorrow he wouldn't know:

*Exactly how to time mowing the lawn so you get the back done before the kids wake up from their naps and hit the front (where the bedroom windows are) just about the time naptime is over. If you do it the other way, the noise wakes them up or prevents them from ever sleeping. Time it right and you hit the bedroom window area just as two little faces pop up in the window and wave.

*Exactly how to get the lawn mower to start after you add new gas. First you prime it three or four pushes, then you tilt it waaaaaay forward, then waaaaaay backwards (never side to side), prime it three or four more pushes and you're good to go. You have to tilt it. You can prime it until the cows come home, but you'll never get anywhere unless you tilt it.

*When you run out of dishwasher soap before your next grocery run and your budget is that tight, exactly how much Palmolive to add to the dishwasher so that you don't overflow suds onto the floor but still get your dishes sparkling clean. (This is not an exact science, as evidenced by the foam party we held after dinner earlier this week.)

*Which ones the "good bubbles" are.

*How to sell yogurt, fruit and cornflakes for dinner when it's six thousand degrees out and you really, really do not want to do a thing in the kitchen. (Guess what my kids are eating as I type this.)

*Which playground to go to on which day. (If it's rained especially heavily within the prior 48 hours, you do not go to any playground in my city, as they use sand for their base and you will be playing in puddles. Conversely, the ritzy town next door has a bouncy foam-like base which is not conducive to puddles, but if you go on a hot day, you'll boil. Then, you want the one by the bay with all the breezes.)

*Where the "scratch 'n dent" "day old" sections of each grocery store are, and when to go to score half price milk or produce for dirt cheap. The day I found cartons of brand name orange juice for $1 apiece I bought six, then called everyone I know. My coupon guru friend is still miffed she missed that one.

*That the best deal in town is an annual zoo pass which also gets you into the museum of science for free. Sometimes, you need to hit the zoo for 15 minutes just to see the elephants and then everything is better.

These are my tricks. My other parent  friends are just as awesome as I am at their jobs, but I wouldn't know, say, just how long you can leave clothes in their washers before you have to run the cycle again, and they would have no idea what to do when the ice machine on my fridge makes that weird grinding noise (dislodge the glacier that formed when you put too much under the ice maker in the first place).

What are your tricks of the trade?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dr., Dr., give me the news

This morning Anna and Lily woke up at the typical crack of dawn, but Mary slept in until 8:30. I was inwardly optimistic. All of my kids are horrible sleepers until about a year old, and then, consistently, they start working out sleeping through the night and I get a little more sane. So, I thought, maybe this was indicative of the next pattern.

So around age five, they'll stop waking up with the chickens, I thought to myself.

Mary might not have woken up with the chickens, but she did wake up with an incredibly red, sore throat, no desire to eat, and claims of dizziness whenever she stood up or walked.

Right. My kids only consistently sleep in when they are sick. How could I have forgotten?

So I settled her on the couch with a popsicle (the only thing I could get her to agree to eat after she tried a bite of her cereal and pretty much burst into tears) and got her a doctor's appointment. I knew she was really sick when I stopped for a coffee on the way out of town and bought her and Anna a donut hole each, which she refused and gave to a grinning Anna.

"My tongue hurts," Anna announced around her donut. "Let's go to my doctor instead."

"Today Mary is seeing the doctor," I said, not bothering to point out Anna's doctor is the same person as Mary's doctor, who is the same person as - you guessed it - Lily's doctor.

"Okay," she said. "We can play with the horses in the red room-" referencing the toys that are in the exam room we used when Lily had her last well baby visit. How she can remember that but will cheerfully tell her father we did nothing but sit home and watch TV all day (regardless of actual events) is beyond me.

We walked into the office with minimal stress (Anna only tried to bolt back into the parking lot once).

"Hello," the receptionist said, greeting me by name.

"Typhoid Mary is here for her visit," I said, sliding my credit card across the desk for the copay. She laughed. I instructed Mary to stay far away from the new baby who was also in the waiting room. She complied without argument, further convincing me of her illness.

One $10 co pay, one sobbing throat culture and exorcism-like screaming exam (involving the traumatic use of a flashlight to look at her throat and ears) later, I was instructed to take Mary home, give her some kids' Motrin if she got feverish and keep her fluids up.

Still sobbing over her recent ordeal, Mary made her way back through the waiting room. I carried Lily, who was making eyes at the physician's assistant, and convinced Anna, somehow, that she did not need an exam of her own, that we could play with the horses again another time, and that we really, really, had to leave. Now. Please.

"Anna, now. Let's go, Anna. Okay, goodbye, Anna, see you later."


And so Mary the Weeping, Lily the Flirt, Anna the Loud and Mommy the Masochist made their way back home, where Miss Mary proceeded to sleep for the rest of the afternoon.

Here's where I become a horrible mother.

I hate that she feels lousy, I really do.

But today? It was quiet. There was no fighting whatsoever, no arguments over toys or popsicle colors or water cups. It was the easiest day I've had all month. 

Monday, June 18, 2012


(This entry had great pictures of my kids on an elephant statue, but Blogger's uploader is being weird, so just imagine them, ok?)

Today was beautiful. Sunny, slight breeze, warm enough to wear summer clothes without boiling. Aside from a minor SNAFU that involved hauling my miraculously still sleeping children out of bed at 6:30 so we could drive Daddy to the train station, the morning was going relatively well. At 10 a.m. I got a text from my friend Jess.

"Did you want to go out today? [Semi-local] Park or aquarium in Boston?"

Since I did not particularly want to haul three kids back to the train station, I picked the playground/park, packed some sandwiches, made sure everyone had on appropriate shoes and had been to the bathroom, and headed out.

We arrive, and the parking lot is busy but not packed, and I score a shady spot under the tree. I unload the stroller, strap in Lily, apply sunscreen as needed and chat with Jess as she gets her son into his stroller. We head over to the playground, stop and let Anna worship at the feet of this almost life-sized elephant statue. and join the mass of kids and parents socializing on this fine day.

Jess and I had just staked out a nice shady spot to stand in with the babies, and I had almost pried Anna off my left leg when Mary returned.

"Mommy I hafta go to the bathroom," she announced.

"Really?!" I asked. "But you just went before we left the-I don't even know if there are bathrooms here," I finished feebly.

"I think there's some at the ice cream stand," Jess said.

"Okay," I said. "Anna, do you have to go potty?"


"Okay, then. Mommy will be right-"

"NO! I wanna come with you!"


So we gamely left the playground, detoured around the elephant, found the bathrooms (at which point my mantra became "Don't touch anything, don't touch anything, put your arms up high, don't touch ANYTHING"), let Mary go, soothed Anna when the flushing scared the pants off of her and went back to the playground. It was 11 a.m.

For the next 30 minutes I wound up reminding the older two in turn that it was not yet lunch time, despite their excitement over the whole picnic idea, before I gave up at 11:30 and we claimed the only bench left.

The girls ate in relative silence. Then Anna piped up.

"I havetogopee."

"Really. Really?"

"No, I don't. I don't like the noise. I teasing you." Okay then. But five minutes later...

"I really have to go pee!"

I eyed the busier parking lot.

"Okay, fine, Anna, but hop on my back and I'll carry you, ok?"

She did.

And that's when I realized we'd, shall we say, missed our window of opportunity to successfully use the restroom.


"I no hafta go pee."

"YEAH I KNOW," I said, as we went back to the car for a change of clothes. I got her cleaned up, we returned to the bench, at which point she informed me she still had to go to the bathroom.

"No you don't. You just went," I said.

"I do."

"If we get all the way over there and you don't pee I'm going to be very angry," I said.

"I do."

So off we went. And she went. (How?) And we returned to play for another hour or so. Then Lily got cranky. And Jess' son Jack was ready for a nap and Anna whacked her head on a piece of climbing rope and absolutely melted down, so back to the car we went.

At which point Mary piped up.

I'm sure you can guess.

So we went. And she went. And I'm pretty sure I saw more of the public toilets at Local Park than I did the playground.

"Mommy, can we go to another playground soon?"

As long as they have a bathroom, I guess.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Today, in bullets

Today I...

*Learned Anna can swim. We were all at my neighbor's pool and she decided to jump off the bottom rung of the ladder despite reminders to tell a grown up if she wanted to try to swim so we could hold her hand. She went under water, of course, and before anyone could grab her she paddled back up to the surface and started for the side of the pool. (Years off Mommy's life: several.)

*Discovered I can still BS with the best of them. My friend's third grader started asking me tons of questions about, of all things, septic systems, how they work, and the cost benefits of using the sewer instead of a septic tank. If this kid doesn't grow up to be a mechanic or an engineer, I'll be astounded. The last time I baby sat him, he asked to take a look at my water heater. Somehow, I answered him satisfactorily. (Being a former reporter comes in handy all. the. time. I tell you.)

*Made absolutely delicious teriyaki marinated grilled chicken breasts, served with pineapple and rice, and became unreasonably annoyed and disgusted when my progeny insisted on a puddle of ketchup in which to drown said dinner.

*Can't seem to care that my children are not, in fact, asleep, but are instead yelling "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!" to one another in their bedroom. Of course, they have bunk beds so perhaps I should go check on them.

*Perhaps not.

*Got a stupid little smile on my face when I realized the next episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager was available on Hulu. I've admitted here before that I like crap television, but in case you were wondering, "well, how crappy?"...that crappy. I like what is quite probably the worst acted and most overwrought show on television and I'm willing to admit it in a public forum.

*Am still listening to Anna chatter about how "I was underwater Mom! And it was scary! I don't want to go underwater in the big pool. I want to go underwater in the small pool. I was underwater! I couldn't see you. I don't want to go underwater..." on endless loop. While she pretends to be Rapunzel and quite possibly scales the wall to the upper bunk with the aid of a quilt. I have no idea. After 7:30 I try not to go down the hall as much as possible.

*Am really looking forward to a nice cold beer. It's been a busy day. Wouldn't you?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Way up high in the apple tree

As Mary gets closer and closer to her fifth birthday, her social awareness and vocabulary continue to increase at an exponential rate. Often I'll be talking to Tim, only to have her interrupt us, and while that's certainly not unusual, she's starting to interject relevant things from time to time.

There's something in that face that I recognize in the mirror.
She's also apparently developing quite the inadvertent sense of comedic timing, which was really highlighted last night.

For background, there are two gates to get into the backyard. One of them has been entirely off limits this year thanks to a particularly nasty looking climbing vine of poison ivy. Over the past two days, I've been spraying the leaves and roots with a bleach and water solution, and yesterday enough of the vine had dried up that I felt brave enough to don some thick rubber gloves and get things taken care of.

I bagged up the poison ivy, took a cool shower and used a little dish soap to get rid of any oils that might have somehow made it onto my skin (yes, that sounds nuts, but no rash today tells me I might be onto something) and then went into the play room, where the girls and Tim were spending some quality time before bed.

"Well, it's gone," I said to Tim.

"Does that mean we can use the gate again?" Mary interrupted. "The poison ivy is all gone."

"Well, not yet," I said. "I want to make sure it's really gone." (This is not a lie. I pulled up an underground root half the length of the side yard and I know I didn't get the entire thing.)

"Seriously?!" She spat in a disgusted, sarcastic tone that was all to familiar to my ear.

"Tim, I'mma hit that child," I said facetiously, in a bit of a hillbilly accent. (PLEASE NOTE that I do not actually advocate smacking your kids around, in case anyone was about to speed dial CPS.)

"You know she's doing the exact same thing you do," Tim said drily.

"Yeah, well, I drink and engage in other adult activities, too, but we'd be pretty mad if she started doing any of that," I argued.

"Still," he said amicably, "you can't say you're going to hit someone because they do the same thing you do."

"I'd hit her if she had a drink, too," I shot back with a grin on my face. (SEE DISCLAIMER ABOVE.)


She still has no idea why Tim and I couldn't stop laughing.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I think I'm gonna call him Stampy

(For the approximately three of you who both read this blog and get the Simpsons reference in the title, well, that was for you.)

Anna, peanut that she is, loves big animals. She is fearless. She loves driving around the nearby farms and looking at all the horses. She's especially thrilled when the horses are in this one particular field, because there's room to pull over on the side of the road and the animals will come right up to the fence. We're careful not to touch them, but she loves seeing them up close, larger than life. (Conversely, when Mary met my former voice teacher's horses, she planted herself firmly behind my leg.)

So it shouldn't shock me that Anna's favorite animal at the zoo is the elephant. We visited on Monday and I had a hard time prying her off the fence to get her to visit other animals.

Anna last year. Love at first sight.
"When we gonna see my BIG ELEPHANT?" she started asking as soon as we'd gotten through the front gates. "I need to see him."

The zoo was crowded but Anna was not disappointed. She saw one elephant walking around, one eating some hay, and one playing near the water. All in all, a successful zoo trip.

Tuesday we had our Gymboree class. Part of the class involves the teacher (the sainted Miss Marsha) pulling items out of a blue canvas bag and letting the two year olds guess what the week's theme is.

"I have an has black and white stripes..."

"Anna, what animal has black and white stripes?" Anna is in a particularly participatory mood this morning but eyes me doubtfully.

"I don't know."

"It looks like a horse," I prompted. "We saw them yesterday..."

"A horse?"

Okay, maybe not. Marsha pulls out the zebra.


Okay, it is a particularly equine-looking zebra (thanks, Beanie Babies) but we finally convince her of its true identity. Next up was a monkey, which Anna immediately identified properly.

"Now," Miss Marsha said, "Where would we see these animals?"

"Anna," I prompted, as the kids sat there in silence, "Where do we see monkeys and zebras? We were there yesterday."

"The farm!"

I knew driving by the horse farm on the way to class was a bad idea.

"That's a good guess," Marsha said, undaunted, "but where ELSE do you think a zebra and a monkey might be?"

"IN A STORY!" Anna said loudly (well, loudly for her). This gave even Marsha pause.

"True..." she started. "But where in real life do you think we could see these animals?"


And yes, the children's book Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants  - a house favorite - does in fact contain both monkeys and zebras.

"What about the zoo?" Miss Marsha suggests. Anna deigns to conclude this is also a good suggestion.

"Anna, it's zoo week!" I said. "Do you want to pretend to be an elephant?"



And we spent the rest of the class playing with playground balls and ignoring my suggestions about pretending to be a monkey or an elephant or a zookeeper.

Anna loves elephants.

But much like she loves Miss Stacie, I guess that adoration doesn't extend to the play floor.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Just Dance

A few months back, Mary's dance school started selling advance tickets to the June recital. She was excited. I was excited. It was Mary's first ever dance performance. The costumes were cute, and Mary's combination tap/ballet class had more than enough enthusiasm to cover their novice dancer status.

"So do you need any backstage help?" I casually asked the dance teacher. I knew the recital was going to be long. I had vague memories of my own brief foray into ballet, when I was about Mary's age, and listing in various classrooms of the local high school for what felt like hours. For some reason, it seemed like a good idea to relive that as a parent, and I became the "room mom" for her class of four little girls.

Recital day arrived and I brought Mary to the high school, all ready to go. My husband, mother, in laws, brother in law and brother in law's girlfriend would be following shortly with her sisters. As we pulled into the parking lot, I tossed a couple of odds and ends (hairbrush, extra elastics that were in the car) into an LL Bean tote. I noticed other mothers with similar bags and felt well prepared for my first rodeo.

We were greeted at the door.

"Oh, the little ones!" another volunteer said. "You guys are in the little gym!" When we reached the entrance, I realized I had made a mistake. A big, big mistake.

Twenty four acts in Act 1. Twenty two in Act 2. Each approximately two to three minutes long with an intermission. And I stared at the blank walls of a poorly ventilated room with nothing to offer but two grimy basketball hoops (and no balls) and some rolled up foam gym mats that had been current in 1972.

Around us, better prepared room mothers were opening their LL Bean totes to reveal bagged snacks, soft blankets to sit on, coloring books and crayons. There were camping chairs and coolers of drinks. I eyed our bare corner in dismay and watched as Mary's classmate slid headfirst down the rolled up mat like a seal. I had exactly one bottle of water, no snacks, and some extra blush and was staring down the barrel of at least three hours.

I hustled Mary into her costume as the other little girls arrived. Their mothers signed them in and departed in order to grab a seat. There existed 20 minutes until curtain, and I started doing Mary's minimal makeup, just some pink lipstick, blush and mascara.

Dear readers, there is a reason four year olds don't typically wear mascara. She twitched. She blinked. Instantly a line of little black dots appeared on her cheek. I wiped at them. That made it worse. I wet a cloth and wiped - even worse. She looked like a raccoon.

"Do you want a wipe?" asked Prepared Super Mommy from the comfort of blankets, coloring pages and Doritos.

"Thank you," I gushed. "Can you tell it's my first time?"

She smiled and said nothing. That was polite of her.

We made it through the first half hour incident free. The girls rolled down the mats and I gave up trying to stop them. Other mothers were in the same boat, going from "Don't do that, you'll get dirty!" to "Oh...just try not to get hurt, okay?!" in five seconds flat. I hustled four excited preschoolers to their first number. They froze in the lights, grinned, tap danced a little and were adorable.

And then we waited. For about two hours until our next number. I was scared, but the girls were great. Mary and one little friend adopted girls from another dance group as best friends and got in on the coloring book action. The other little girls raced back and forth, up and down the gym, stopping only to constantly ask "is it our turn yet?"

At one point, Mary came over.

"Those little girls are having a picnic," she said, pointing to Snack Pack Mom's area. "Can I join them?"

"Did they ask you to join them?"

"No, I have to ask them first."

"That's not exactly how it works," I said, channeling Emily Post for two seconds, and doling out the last of the graham crackers brought by one of the other girl's moms.

A little flower-dressed ballerina collided with my leg.

"Is it our turn yet?"


Intermission. Another girl's mom comes backstage.

"You were great!" she gushed. "I can't wait to see you in the next number!"

"We're not doing it," the girl said. Mom looked at me.

"They're not?!"

Life Lesson 1: Never listen to the ridiculous things your four year old says.

"Oh no, they're doing it," I said. "We're back here this long, we're dancing!"

Another leg collision.

"Is it our turn?!"

And finally it was. Mary ballet danced her little heart out. I won't say it was technically good. She's four. That's not the point. She waved offstage at no one. She forgot steps. But she grinned and grinned and when all the other little girls went off at the end of the number, mine grabbed an extra bow and a curtsey.

Now that's grace under pressure.

Next year, I bring coloring books.

And a flask.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Confession Thursdays

The weather this week has addled my brain just a little bit, so today you get bullet points.

*I confess that this confessional was originally going to be an entry about how my two oldest are polar opposites but really best friends. I was going to artfully tie that to examples of my own childhood, where my little brother and I grew to love and appreciate each other but were completely dissimilar during our formative years. It was brilliant. Then they started arguing, woke the baby, and my brain is oatmeal. So there you go. Maybe someday.

*I confess that Mary's dance recital is this Sunday and while I am excited to see my little girl on stage doing her thing, I have a new appreciation for every play and concert my mother sat through, as this recital promises to be at least two and a half hours long and I will be there for the. entire. thing. Watching four year olds twirl in the wrong direction and wave enthusiastically at the audience is adorable only when it's your four year old.

*I confess that unless there's immediate danger to one or both parties, I refuse to intervene in or break up arguments between siblings anymore. I keep hoping this new policy will mean fewer fights if they know I won't make an executive decision ([Daughter], please stop chewing on [other daughter's] favorite toy), but so far, no luck.

*Five years ago, if you asked me what my ultimate fantasy would be for a weekend all to myself with unlimited funds and opportunities, my answer would involve Caribbean beaches, frozen drinks and possibly cabana boys. Today, that answer would be "Sleep! Precious sleep!" It doesn't have to be on the beach. It doesn't even have to be in a bed. I'd catch zzzs on a RIPTA bus if it meant making up what is turning into an alarming five year sleep deficit.

*I confess that my husband has told me he's sick of having chili as often as I have it on the dinner menu, but I'm holding out until Anna, the human goat, starts refusing. It's just too easy to make.

*I confess that every time my husband gallantly offers to mow the yard in my stead, I refuse, because that is 40 minutes where I am wielding a heavy, dangerous instrument and no one can jump in front of me, or ask for more juice, or yell that their sister is eating bugs. In those 40 minutes, I escape into the fantasy outlined in bullet point four. No, not the first one, the second.

*I confess I just saw Mary slouched by the playroom door and broke my confession in bullet point number three. "What's the matter, Mary?" I asked tiredly. "ANNA IS RUINING MY HAPPINESS!" she wailed. Oh. Well. If that's all.

*I confess that as annoyed as I get with them sometimes during the day, tonight I'll look in on them and they'll be in one bed, piled up like a couple of puppies, and I'll smile and forget why I maybe wanted to put them on the lawn with "FREE" signs hung about their adorable little necks. Right. This is why I'm doing this.