Friday, January 12, 2018

To Infirmary...And Beyond!

Deep thoughts from our week under quarantine. Just indulge me here, folks. I've had limited adult contact with the outside world this week. I have words, lots of words, to get out.

We had bugs from all over. Tate was puking. I was coughing so hard I was awarded my first inhaler in 41 years. Fevers galore. Entire bottle of ibuprofen dispensed.

Basically my deep thought is this: There's nothing like a week of sickness to reset one's attitude. I was downright giddy when my fever finally broke for good and I felt well enough to clean the bathrooms. Mundane chore last week. This week, I'm glad to be able do it. Which, yes, should be my attitude every week. But it's not. Far from it.

Weeklong sicknesses can also reset attitudes when it comes to teens. Not theirs of course, (wouldn't that be nice?), but mine towards them. Just like when they were little. Their abundant energy could certainly wear me out some days. But as soon as one of them would go down with a fever, I'd take one look at their pitiful sleeping self on the couch and think, "I'm not sitting there 'til I disinfect that whole cushion"...oh, but then I'd think, "What I wouldn't give for them to be running up and down the stairs strewing their toys from room to room."

It's the same way with teens. On Reese's worse day this week, when she didn't change position for hours on end and I kept tiptoeing up to her bedside to see if the covers were rising and falling, I thought, "What I wouldn't give to see her roll her eyes or give me that look of 'what planet are you actually from'?".

This was the same day, incidentally, I read an article about flu related deaths in otherwise healthy individuals. Talk about timing. Of course I wasn't going to tell her because it would freak her out. But I must have been hovering a little too much that evening because she finally looked at me and croaked, "What?"

"Huh? What?" was my smooth comeback.

"Mom..." she pushed.

"Tell me if you feel any different."


"No reason."

"Mom..." she pushed again.

"Oh alright already! People are dying from the flu. Like healthy people. So just tell me if you feel extra bad, even if it's in the middle of the night."

There was not one day this week that all 3 kids attended school at the same time. It became part of my nightly routine to call a school or 2 and leave a message. I half hoped a truancy officer would come to my door, just for some face to face contact with society.

While we're on the subject of sneeze at the dinner table in elementary school, and they were announcing they must stay home the next day. Those days are g-o-n-e. I debated with Reese and Tate at length Sunday night why they would both be missing their first day ever of middle school and high school on Monday.

Tate argued, "But I haven't thrown up since like 3am. So I can go!"

Technically the lad was correct. "Buddy, every time you stand up to do something you black out for like 5 seconds. Black out time is not factored in to what little time you have between classes. You're staying home," I rebuffed.

And Reese was convinced she'd need to repeat the semester (which literally had begun 2 days prior) if she missed a day. At this point I was still sick and not feeling up to arguing so just said wearily, "I don't know what to tell ain't goin'." (Perhaps I'll take an English course with her that additional semester).

Turns out, Tate just didn't want to do the extra homework he'd have from missing class. Which took all of maybe 20 minutes Tuesday night.

Tate and Drue headed off to school Tuesday while Reese and I settled in for our morning naps. My phone rang around 10am. The school nurse. "Hi, I have Drue here in my office..."

"Of course you do. I'll be right there."

Reese bemoaned missing another day on Wednesday, but by this time she felt so miserable, I didn't have to put forth nearly as much effort arguing with her.

Apparently, Mother Nature even grew tired of Reese's objections to missing school, so she dropped the temp and sent just enough ice to get school cancelled for Thursday. "There, you're not actually missing another day," I reassured her.

"Yeah. But I can't enjoy the snow day because I'm sick."

Oh. My. Stars. In. Heaven.

She emailed her teachers to get a jump start on makeup work. "What do you have to do to make up P.E.?" I asked. "Run a mile per day I miss," she said, complete with eye roll (Yay! It returned!). "'re going to be running your own personal 5K to make up this week!" I figured up.

David checked on us all Thursday night from Denver, "How's everybody doing?" he asked. When I reported we had all turned a corner and were on the mend he said, "Oh good! I was just wondering if I should extend my stay."

I was quite the little organizer keeping track on my phone who had medicine when and what their temp was. They were all set to go back today but Drue decided to be an overachiever and keep her fever a little longer and her voice comes and goes in croaky whispers.

I took pity on Reese walking to the bus stop in 7 degree weather this morning before sunrise and offered to drive her to school. This is big, folks. I haven't driven her to high school once this year.

We dropped Tate off across the street from his school and as I pulled into morning traffic to take Reese, my friend Carrie "Voxered" me (cool walkie talkie phone app) and said, "Just in case you're dropping any kids off at Walgreens, that light's not working." So I had just dropped my son off in single digit weather with no way to get across 4 lanes of morning commute traffic. Lovely. A quick call to another Mom friend who dropped her son off at the same time eased my mind. She dashed back to check on them and they were nowhere in sight. I didn't even want to know how he made it across. (Turns out, the button was frozen on their side of the street, but not the other, so someone ended up pushing it for curiosity got the better of me.)

As we neared Reese's school, I said, " know I'm not going in that parking lot, right? I'll drop you off on that side street. And don't be a hater about it."

As I started down that street I saw the side parking lot with no line of cars. So I pulled in and around near a random door but stopped short on the corner, "Oops, I don't think this is really a drop off and here comes a truck behind me. Hurry! Hop out!"

"But I don't even know where I'm at!" she said.

"Love you! Have a good day back," I replied as I drove off.

I'm doubting she'll have to add on another semester, due to the fact she challenged me in a game of Fight List on my phone 30 minutes into the school day. Working real hard there, Reese, real hard.

She did such a great job convincing me she was well enough to return today, after school I said, "Oh. Hey. Clean your room."

"I can't. I'm sick," she replied without batting an eye.

Yep, glad to have my sassy gal back.

Now we just need to get Drue well enough to be her snarky self and all will be right with my world.

Friday, August 25, 2017

It's 6am Somewhere

At the beginning of the week, Reese said she needed two 2 liter bottles by Thursday for Biology. We don't buy 2 liters so it was like Christmas in August around here when Drue and Tate found out they could drink as much as they wanted. And, in fact, were encouraged to do so quickly since we only had a few days.

Who knew there were so many styles of 2 liters? Reese's teacher said not to get "weird" ones but I had no idea what that meant. Reese deemed my lemonade bottle "weird", so I put it back and got Sprite Zero. Sprite has been forever ruined for me thanks to the stomach flu. Root beer was our second pick. No bad memories associated with that flavor that I could recall.

I have been stumbling downstairs at 6:15 every morning this week to pop some waffles into the oven, announcing more than once, "Don't get used to this, people! I'm not doing it the whole school year." Yesterday morning the mostly drunk {"drunk" meaning "gone", not "intoxciated"} 2 liter of root beer was sitting on the counter. MOSTLY drunk?! Reese needed to take it that day. I poured out what was left {probably 12 ounces or so} and started sipping away. Not my first choice of beverage at the crack of dawn but, by golly, I wasn't going to waste one drop. I rinsed out the bottle and set it next to the already rinsed out Sprite Zero. Mission accomplished. Mom had saved the day.

As Reese flew around the house like a crazy person so she wouldn't be late for her bus that comes at O dark 30, I hollered, "Don't forget your 2 liters!!" Her school is across town and the list of forgotten items I will drop off for her is slim. And may actually only include "oxygen tank" should she become dependent on one for survival.

"What?" she hollered back.
"Your 2 liters! It's Thursday!" I reminded her proudly.
"Oh. I don't need those 'til the 28th," she said dismissively as she stuffed practice clothes in her backpack.

I had just guzzled the rest of it for nothing? And the worst part was, it was caffeine free. So it would benefit me in no way whatsoever. Great. Now root beer is ruined for me because I will associate it with early mornings. And I abhor early mornings. David was flying in that evening, so I had to put signs on the empty bottles saying, "REESE NEEDS THESE FOR SCHOOL" because he tosses out anything and everything we are not using at that exact moment.

All in all, we made it through the first full week of early mornings, extra school supply runs, and picture day thrown in for grins (pun intended).  Reese did have a near miss when she decided to start walking home one evening after practice while I was at a parent meeting at the middle school and was late picking her up. My rule-following child who worries about getting arrested for jaywalking in our neighborhood decided to cross all four lanes of Blackbob with no traffic light in sight. What. On. Earth. I half wish the cops had picked her up to scare her straight. Besides, the girl can't not smile. So her mug shot would have been pretty adorable.

And I'll be bracing myself for her frantic text from school on the 28th..."Mom, I forgot my 2 liters."

Monday, July 03, 2017

Picture Perfect

Our last professional family picture was 5 years ago. Five! Tate has more than doubled in age. He wasn't even alive for our only other family picture. Both of which were for our church directory. I ponder getting one taken each year but since I'm the procrastinator, and David only takes charge of circumstances that actually appeal to him, here we sit, with zero family photos adorning our walls. 

Let me just go ahead and state another reason we haven't had one taken since 2012. They. Are. Stressful.

When we journey down to the beach each Summer, I toss in some coordinating clothes for the kids and envision getting the perfect shot of them beaming sweetly as the waves cascade around their feet and the sun sets. It usually ends up with tears, squinty eyes, and someone getting soaked because they got too close to the water. All of this captured with my state of the art photography phone. 

So this year, I decided to turn this whole fiasco over to a professional. An innocent third party the kids would be embarrassed to punch each other in front of. 

So I booked it. And so began the rest of the planning. 

First up, announcing the joyous news to my wee little subjects. They took is about as well as they'd take the news of having to get all their nose hairs plucked out one by one. But they picked up on how excited I was so they kept their objections to a minimum.

Next up, outfits. Oy.

David and Tate are super easy to shop for and wear whatever I bring home. I took my more challenging family members {ahem, girls} with me to shop for outfits. Nope. Apparently it's not as fun to shop for something you care nothing about. When we didn't come up with anything at the first 2 stores except their attitudes, I slowly drove back by our house and tossed them out onto the lawn. Or at least that's what I imagined doing. 

I ordered my dress online and matched everyone else to it before it had even arrived. Big gamble. But luck was on my side. When my dress came in I eagerly tried it on. I'd saved a screenshot of it on my phone to refer back to when I was shopping for the other outfits. As I stood in front of the mirror, turning from side to side, I sighed, "I mean, I think I like it. But I don't look like the girl in the picture." 

Drue doesn't mince words, and rather than offering some positive feedback such as, "Oh, I think it looks cute", she simply said matter-of-factly, "'re not a model."

As our vacation departure grew closer, the thought of the picture weighed heavily on my mind. And I would blurt out random instructions from time to time. More like a drill sergeant preparing troops for boot camp, rather than a Mom offering suggestions for our beautiful family memory that was about to be made. 

"Whatever I pick out for you to wear, that's what you're wearing. End of discussion."

"I want real smiles, people. Not the fake ones you rehearse 50 times before you post them to Instagram. Genuine ones! We're paying good money for this!"

"No kickboxing in the hallway! Have you lost your mind?! Our picture is in less than a week!"

And when Drue's boogie board flew up and caught Reese in the eye, I simply exclaimed, "Our picture is tomorrow!"

All the clothes came together nicely. I found David a light blue linen button down. "What do you think?" I asked him. "Sure. I mean, I'm never going to wear it again though", he confessed. Fine by me. I only needed him to be in it for one hour. 

He ended up wearing it twice before we even had our picture taken. The second time I ironed it I hissed, "This shirt is of the absolute devil! These wrinkles! Ridiculous! Linen is from the underworld."

The week we were leaving for Alabama, Tate developed a gum infection out of nowhere. The dentist prescribed antibiotics and recommended he have a baby tooth extracted. You guys! I made him smile first to be sure he wouldn't look like a hillbilly before I agreed to move forward with his treatment. That is the moment I realized I may be going a tad overboard with my preparations. 

I tried to plan every possible picture pose down to the last detail. What if she gets a shot of our hands intertwined together and everyone sees my ragged nails I pick to bits? So I bought fake ones at Target and painstakingly glued them on during our car trip South. 

As David checked us into our beach condo, the kids grabbed carts from the lobby. My fake nails started popping off one by one as I hurriedly tossed out duffels from the truck bed so we didn't exceed our 10 minute time limit in the circle drive. Alas, our sweet hand pictures were not to be, as the next day David's wedding band flew into the Gulf during a game of catch. 

I supervised Tate putting on his sunscreen at the beach. But later that evening a large red sunburnt splotch appeared by his right eye and cheekbone. I'm sure it could have been edited out, but I did threaten to touch it up with some of my concealer. "Nooooooo!" he replied, horrified. Then proceeded to check the mirror every 7.2 minutes to see if it had begun to fade on its own. 

The next night was it. Picture time had arrived. I pressed everyone's clothes and gave them each the speech that they were not to eat and/or drink anything once they put them on. "So be sure and eat something beforehand. If you pass out during the pictures, we will just prop you up and continue."

I took a deep breath, slipped on my dress, and looked in the mirror. Panic set in. How had I not remembered I have no idea how to do my makeup or hair? Sure, I get by enough to go to work or Wal-mart, but for a documented keepsake memory? Heck. No. 

Not to mention the humidity in Alabama mocks me. And sets out to undo any type of hairstyle I attempt. I frantically pulled up a few You Tube tutorials and got to work. Then proceeded to ask David and the girls, "Too much eye makeup? Not enough? Should I trim my bangs real quick?" I got an emphatic "NO" for that last question. 

We were off. I didn't let David wear his super sensitive linen shirt in the car knowing the seatbelt would ruin my labor of love ironing job. More instructions on the way. Tate is going through a phase where he contorts his body in all directions rather than have the girls touch him in any way. David said, "No crying. If she asks the girls to touch you or put their arms around you, just no crying."

We pulled off the road, under a bridge, to a private part of the beach. Reese, our eternally fearful child, looked around uncertainly and said, "This is shady. She doesn't have her own place?" 

"How would one go about securing a real beach...sand and a tiny studio?" I asked. "I'm pretty sure she's still legit."

The session went well. She was super sweet. All she would say to the kids was, "Now look at each other" and they would burst into fits of cherubic giggles as she snapped away. Who were these people? Long flowing curls, dresses I remembered ironing, thin blonde boy with tousled hair...yep, they were ours. 

David and I don't often gaze lovingly into each other's eyes. So we usually ended up bursting into laughter when we were posed that way. And I would say through my clenched smile, "At least I still have my wedding ring. So it looks like we're married."

After the last few photos were snapped, we all piled back into the truck. "Did I do good smiles, Mom?" Tate asked. When I assured him he had, he shared, "That's probably because I was thinking of baby pugs trying to walk and falling over." Whatever works. 

"Why don't you guys smile like that for me though? It takes like 50 tries!"

Reese simply said, "Well, she was fun." 

I'm in love with the sneak peek she posted today and can't wait to see the rest. 

Until then, I'm off to bury David's linen shirt in the backyard. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Nuggets Made Me Do It

I blame those blasted chicken nuggets.

I really feel that is the point at which my night began its downward spiral.

A few weeks ago, I spent the day in Leavenworth and headed home around 5ish to begin our running around for the evening. David was in Dallas and I had timed my pick-ups and drop-offs perfectly.

I grabbed McDonalds and made my way home to tend to all the creatures living there, both human and canine.

I unloaded my haul onto the table. Four drinks. Four fries. Three burgers....

They had forgotten Tate's chicken nuggets.

(Insert dramatic heavy sigh.)

Yes, I should have double checked the bag. But I just glanced in, saw the 4 fries and a bunch of other stuff at the bottom and hoped for the best.

My irritation subsided once I made it back to McDonalds. Honestly, this was small potatoes (french fry pun) compared to my other worries that week.

Drue met me in the driveway when I returned home, anxious we were going to be late to volleyball. I dropped her off at 6 on the dot, rounded up Tate at 7:30, swung by and grabbed his buddy (thank goodness for carpools) and dropped them off at basketball.

I made my way across town to pick up Drue by 8pm and home we went.

Feeling rather rockstarish about how my night had gone thus far, I slipped into my PJ pants and settled in to watch "This is Us" (thank goodness for DVRs).

Tate usually hangs out in the man cave if we're watching girly shows upstairs. The animal shelter had emailed earlier asking for the names of our foster puppies so they could enter them into their system, so I texted Tate, "Think of 2 boy puppy names".

I texted him again after the show (which I miraculously made it through with dry eyes), "Time for bed". He hadn't responded about the puppy names and when he didn't respond to my text about bed, I sent, "I'm not sure why you never text me back. Ever.".

A few minutes later there was a knock at the front door. It was close to 9:30pm by then and Drue casually headed down the hall saying, "I got it." I leapt from my bed yelling, "Noooo! Don't open the door at this time of night!"

The dogs were barking and I slithered down the hall turning off lights as I went so whoever it was would go away. I heard the doorknob turn and Tate's little voice in the entryway.

I stared in disbelief, "Tate! Was that you knocking on the door?! Why were you outside?"

"Yeah," he said hesitantly, "I was coming home."

He spends most afternoons at the school park with his buddies but knows to head home when the street lights come on. I couldn't believe he'd been outside at this time of night. I felt angry, scared, and guilty all at once.

"From where??" I pressed urgently, already thinking up an appropriate punishment for giving me heart palpitations.

By this point, Drue was looking at me like I'd gone bat crazy and said very slowly and in question form, "B-a-s-k-e-t-b-a-l-l  p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e?"

They watched as I processed this information, unsure of how they should react. When I collapsed on the stairs in laughter, they followed suit and started recounting all the ridiculous things I'd said in the last few minutes. Then gladly reenacted the whole scenario for Reese when she got out of the shower.

This will be one of those topics of conversations that resurface for years to come, "Remember that time Mom freaked out on Tate for coming home from practice?!"

And I'll just shake my head and say, "It was those blasted nuggets..."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Love at First Bite

I adore the handy dandy cooking apparatus that is my crockpot. Toss stuff in in the morning, a lovely meal awaits you at night.

But, I began hearing about another magical gadget...the Instant Pot. Basically, instead of needing 8 hours cooking time, it only needed 20 minutes. A procrastinator's dream! No more fretting a day ahead about what to make for supper. I could decide on my way home from work and just plop it in.

I began hinting around that an Instant Pot would make my life complete.

Years ago, we knocked out the upper cabinets in our kitchen so we could actually see people's faces on the other side of the counter, rather than just their torsos. Therefore, we have ZERO extra storage space for anything. I had to include a solution to this problem in my pitch to David.

"My crockpot has a crack in the bottom. Nothing leaks out or anything, but it could literally shatter at any moment. If I get an Instant Pot, I can throw the crockpot away and a storage spot will become available."

Come Christmas morning, my shiny new toy was waiting for me all wrapped up amongst the gifts. I admired it from afar for a few days. When I finally opened it up and perused the manual, panic set in. So many steps to follow. And the words "pressure cooking" kept taunting me. I quickly shoved it all back in the box.

David inquired from time to time if I had tried it out when he was traveling.

"," I finally confessed. "I'm scared of it, ok?! I'm afraid I'm going to blow the whole house up!"

As is his response to most of my life crises, he laughed.

He retrieved it from the box when we were both home one afternoon and said, "Here, let's try it out together. I'll make sure you don't blow anything up."

Something seemed off about the kitchen. I gasped, "Where's my crockpot??"

"I threw it away. You said if you got an Instant Pot, you'd throw out your crockpot."

"You know full well I never throw anything out! I was going to store it in the basement as my backup!"

"I know. Exactly why I got to it first and threw it out."

He walked me through the steps of securing the lid, punching in the right setting, preheating and pressurizing. As the pressure whistled out at the end, I hit the deck and exclaimed, "I am never using this!"

Now that my overreacting was out of the way, I was able to move on to a more rational way of thinking, as is my pattern. I was going to conquer this pressure cooker if it was the last thing I did. And I still believed it might be.

Since Drue was pretty sick today, I stayed home with her. I had to run to the store for a few things and decided it was as good a time as any to face my fear of that darn pot. I texted David my plan so he wouldn't bring home something super awesome for supper, ensuring nobody would want what I prepared.   

Next, I Googled super easy recipes for beginning instant potters in the parking lot. Some recipes had no business popping up in that search. Way too many steps and ingredients. If I have to scroll down a screen or two to read all the ingredients, nope, next. I was getting anxious to get back home to my little patient, so I just picked a super short recipe and went on my way.

Heading home, it dawned on me.

I picked BBQ spareribs!

Why on Earth would I have done that? Meat is David's specialty!! There's no way I can even compete with him on that level. Sigh. The deed had been done. The slab was in the backseat. There was no turning back.

Tate was curious what I finally decided to make.

"Ribs!" I said proudly.

"Hmm," he thought aloud, "Will Daddy be here?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Oh, nothing. He just usually cooks ribs on the Traeger. But...he might like these too," he said, sounding unconvinced.

Blast! Even my 10 year old knew this idea was doomed from the get go.

David meandered into the kitchen when he got home and I shooed him out. He came in a time or two more, looking quizzically at my technique, but I continued to kick him out and hiss, "Don't. Say. Anything."

In went the apple juice, onion, vanilla, water, meat, oh, and the liquid smoke David brought home after my frantic text asking if we had any, followed by my threat to give up completely if we didn't. When the main course finally emerged, it looked, and smelled like ribs.

"Reese, you eat the first one," David suggested, then eyed her cautiously, "Do you feel ill?"

Wanting to remember everyone's first impressions, I grabbed a pencil and started jotting down their comments.

"Are you taking notes?," David asked, then continued, "These are delicious! I'm so proud of you! You are the best wife a man has ever had!"

I promptly put down my pencil. Which was for the best, because Tate had splattered sauce all over my notes.

I timidly sunk my teeth into the ribs, "Wow. The Instant Pot could take the place of the Traeger," I proposed.

David paused with a rib halfway to his mouth, "Why would you even say something like that?"

I think I'll just start hinting I need a personal chef. Now that would make my life complete.

Friday, October 21, 2016

DMV Drama


I'm not sure why a major milestone can't be reached in our family without being accompanied by some crazy backstory.  I guess life would be less entertaining that way. But my blood pressure sure would remain a bit more stable.  

Reese has been studying to take her learner's permit test for weeks. She started off slowly, but within the last week or so has been cramming the info in. "I really don't know why this book is so thick. All you gotta do is press the pedal! Am I right??" was her frightening insight on the whole ordeal.  

She would come into my room randomly spouting off rules of the road, "If a semi is in front of you and is turning right, don't try and squeeze between them and the curb. They'll crush you into a biscuit."

"Does it really say that?!" I asked gullibly.  

"Well, it says they'll crush you. I added the biscuit," she confessed.  

And she's been refreshing my memory on laws while I'm driving, "Mom, if you get to this 4 way stop first, you have the right of way. Otherwise, it's the person to your right." It's like I'm a driver's ed student all over again. Lovely. 

They were off school yesterday and today for conferences. Perfect time for a trip to the DMV. The first part of this week turned into craziness and our evenings were filled with activities, which didn't give me any time to quiz her. So when she got back from an early morning basketball practice yesterday, I asked if she was still planning on taking her test. She was.  

Reese has no understanding or patience with service that isn't prompt. When we go to restaurants, after about 4 minutes of placing our order, she's asking why our food hasn't been delivered to our table yet. And don't even get me started on doctor's appointments. "But our appt was at 10. Why can't the doctor just see us at 10?!"

So there was no way on God's green Earth I was going to sit at the DMV half the day with her. I tried the feature where you text them to hold your place in line. Which was weird because I felt like I was cutting in front of people who physically went there to sit for hours. Our estimated wait time was 160 minutes. We went on about our day. She took some practice tests online. I prepared my famous white chicken chili for the middle school teachers' dinner. Ok, so it's not exactly famous, but all my kids love it and request it frequently in Fall and Winter so I feel like it could be famous. Unfortunately, yesterday, when they recognized the lovely smell permeating the house, I had to break it to all of them they wouldn't be consuming any of it.  

I had an irrational fear that the 40 some odd people in front of us in line would spontaneously contract bird flu and have to drop out, thus bumping us to the front and we wouldn't be ready. So I obsessively checked our line status throughout the day. No bird flu outbreak occurred and we inched up slowly, one spot at a time.  

I figured we'd leave the house around 2:30, drop the chili off at the school (it needed to be there by 3:30) and leisurely make our way to the DMV. About 2:23 I checked our status, 78 min until our turn.  I shredded the chicken, stirred it all up, told Reese to get her shoes on, and she headed out to the car.  My phone buzzed and when I checked it I almost dropped my crockpot! Our wait had jumped down to 10 minutes and they were requesting we make our way there right now! I barreled out the front door trying not to slosh the chili contents, yelling, "Go! Go! Go! We have to get there!"

Let's just pause right here and discuss how badly I handle crisis situations. Even little mini-crisis situations like this. Whenever kinks are thrown into my well laid plans, I wring my hands and moan, "What are we gonna do?!" which David (aka "Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected") thinks is hilarious.  

I carefully handed off the crockpot to Reese and said, "Hold this with all your being! It CANNOT spill!" (For all you nervous readers out there who think this is foreshadowing of chili contents spilling all over my floorboard, rest assured, the chili makes it.)

A few blocks from the DMV, Reese checked our place in line. We still had 9 minutes to get there.  My heart began to slow back down to a normal pace. Until my phone buzzed again and said, "You have reached the front of the line.  Please proceed to Window 1."

"Whaaaaat????" I yelled. "How can this happen? Type 'M'! Type 'M'!" I commanded her.  

"What's 'M'?!" she yelled back as she sent it.

"It gives us more time if we need it. This is the craziest system ever invented!"

It pushed us back 3 people and gave us 19 minutes to spare. Why I didn't think to do that back at the house is beyond me.  I told you I don't think clearly in these types of situations.  But it would have gotten me back on track with my plan and I could have dropped the chili off and all would have been right with the world.  

We made it, scrambled of the car, and I contemplated bringing in my crockpot in so it could stay warm.  I'm sure stranger things have happened at the DMV.  I ended up leaving it, we bolted inside, checked in, and collapsed in our seats. The wait had gone to 5 minutes and then suddenly our number was called.  I hadn't even had the chance to get all sappy about my baby getting ready to take her test to operate a motor vehicle! 

It was a little before 3 by this time so I told Reese, "Don't hurry through your test. Take your time. But seriously, I HAVE to be out of here by 3:15 to get this chili to the school. So I may have to leave you and come back."

They took her picture and asked her all the standard questions, eye color, weight, etc.  I was holding it all together nicely until he asked if she wanted to be an organ donor.  She paused, looked at me, I swallowed the lump in my throat nodding slightly. I wanted to grab her and bolt out the door saying, "I'm sorry. This is a mistake. She won't be getting behind the wheel today or any other day in my lifetime. I'll just drive her to work, college, across country to her new career, and then I'll drive my grandkids hither and yon as well."

She made it through the rest of the questions, faltering slightly at, "Are you legally present in the US?" because she thought they said "President". "I thought that was weird," she told me later, "I mean, wouldn't they KNOW if I was President?". (Trust me, if she was old enough, I'd definitely be writing in her name come November.)

The man behind the counter started messing with her, asking if she'd brought her 250 word essay. I chuckled politely but inside was thinking, "Now is NOT the day. I'm on a mission to make an extremely important chili delivery in T-16 minutes so let's get this show on the road!"

I sat off to the side while she took her test on the computer. I tried to read her body language and could tell she was missing a few. My people-watching tendency got the best of me and she suddenly appeared with a shy smile, saying, "I passed. What do we do now?"

I jumped out of my seat, congratulated her, and we made our way to the window to get her temporary permit. We were off. As we headed to the car, she said happily, "We made it with a minute to spare!" 

"Whaaaat?!" thinking she meant it was 3:29 and knowing we'd never make it to the school on time now.  

"It's 3:14. You wanted to be out of there by 3:15," she explained.  

As she climbed in the front seat, I again said, "I'm so proud of you, Reese!" Then immediately slipped back into psycho mode. "So help me, if you spill one drop of this chili....!"

I'm going to take the next few days to recover psychologically from her first driving lesson. And then I'll recap it. 

Spoiler alert: Reese is a fantastic driver...IF only we lived in England.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Let's Hit the Road {and not Each Other}

When David and I are toodling across the country by our lonesome one day I'm going to pull out this post and reflect on what road trips used to be like.

Because 1/2 our earthly belongings must accompany us to Alabama each Summer, we've started traveling in David's truck. The cab is actually quite roomy. I'm not sure it's "Let's pick out our largest stuffed animal to ride along" roomy, but that's just what Tate did. So don't be surprised if his beloved cow, Kringle, makes an appearance in a few vacation photos.
Each year I get a little bit smarter about preparing for the actual car ride itself. For instance, so I wouldn't arrive at our destination with a body temperature of -7, I incorporated sweat pants into my travel attire. Therefore, when we finally reach the beloved family farm, I'll emerge from the car and greet family members I haven't seen in a year (or more) in sweatpants. Not to mention the humidity level in sweet home Alabama is 112%. 

While the kids are occupied by books, electronic devices, and trying to sneak into the snack bag without getting caught, David and I have ample time to discuss our hopes and dreams with one another. Which sounds good in theory, only David refuses to carry on a conversation on road trips. I looked over a few minutes into our journey and he was already in his own little world immersed in his audio book. 
Drue learned a valuable lesson for future travel: If you have the longest legs amongst your siblings, it's best not to lash out in anger and scratch your brother as the car is getting loaded. You will be banished to the dreaded middle seat as punishment for the first half of the trip. 

David sweetly relinquished the front seat to Reese when it was my turn to drive. No doubt afraid I'd try to strike up a conversation. Reese's first order of business was attempting to kill a small winged creature. Her most expensive possession, her iPhone, was her weapon of choice and she proceeded to slam it down on the dash. I calmly suggested she find a different weapon, saying, "Are you crazy?!" Next, she grabbed David's hiking shoe and slammed it into the window. It was his turn to question her sanity, adding, "You're going to break the glass!" 

We soon came upon a small town and the speed limit dropped to 50 mph. To avoid incessant teasing by my passengers if I were to get pulled over, I slowed down accordingly. "I can run faster than this," Reese declared. Normally I would just dismiss this type of comment as random teenage snarkiness, but because I longed for conversation, I entered into a lengthy debate with her about how that was entirely impossible. I even went so far as to throw in a math lesson telling her to divide her fastest mile time into 60. You're welcome, teacher friends. 

Like David, Tate isn't a huge conversationalist on extended car rides. In fact, he's often so quiet I'll turn around abruptly and scan the backseat for him after stops. He could pretty much be the perfect traveler, if it weren't for the fact that when he gets restless he randomly lets out the highest pitched shrieks I've ever heard. I am certain this will be the cause of our demise one day if I'm at the wheel. "Tate!" I shrieked right back, "Stop. Doing. That. I almost careened right through that guard rail." 

At least we got our timing right this trip. David and I share the driving and he almost always ends up driving the windy two lane stretch through Arkansas. He sets the cruise control and I have the grip of death on the door handle while I bargain with the Lord that if he gets us through the next few hours unscathed, I'll do this, that, and the other for Him. 

The stars aligned and that particular stretch fell during my time to drive. As I was sliently thanking the Lord, I heard, "I'm hungry. When are we stopping?" Stopping? We go through about 15 towns with populations of 306. There will be no stopping until we reach Jonesboro. There's nothing to stop at. And just like that, I'm the one getting blamed for the lack of fast food places across the entire state. "Mom won't stop for us to eat. We're starving!" 

Don't even get me started on picking a place everyone will agree on. A restaurant could have been Drue's absolute favorite yesterday, but if Reese is the one to suggest stopping there, Drue instantly can no longer stand it and won't even think about eating there.

After I made it clear I would only be stopping at one place, Reese said, "That's fine. Let's just go through the drive thru."

"Ohhhhh nooooo. Nope. Not happening. I refuse." Ordering for those three in a drive thru definitely makes the list of "Things I Don't Enjoy", right underneath "pull all my toenails out one by one." If they would just order simple things like a #1 or a #3 I'd be fine. But they each want to customize minor details of their order and it usually ends up sounding something along the lines of:
"Hi, I'd like a cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun, with just one sesame seed. And can you cut the corners off the cheese so it fits just so on the patty? And I'll take a Sprite, no, wait, do you have Cherry Coke? Ok, well would you mind running next door to the store and bringing one back to put on ice? Oh. Well I'll just take a Dr. Pepper, no just make that a Sprite then."

Nope. I pulled into the parking lot of Wendy's and kicked everyone out to go order their own bag of crazy. 

I count it a successful road trip when we finally arrive and are all still on speaking terms with one another. Even if we're not on speaking terms, we'll put on our happy faces and pretend we are as we hop out of the car. I love the familiar crunch of the gravel road under our tires, that first smell of pine as we roll down our windows, and the hugs waiting for us at the end of the road.

I've already made a mental note for our next trip: Discuss with David beforehand what shirt he's wearing so we don't inadvertently wind up as this couple again.

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