The Sherpa-rone

Annabelle’s class was planning a field trip to the pumpkin patch, and I agreed to go with Baby Carson.  This sounded hard and stressful, but Annabelle thinks school is a state mandated institution that sucks away the happy, carefree days of her forgotten youth.  So I took pity on her and said I would come.

The day before the trip, the teacher sends home a letter saying that parent chaperones will need to watch four kids and carry their groups’ lunches.  Since my plan is to wear Carson in the front pack and lug all of his supplies in my backpack, I’m not sure where any extra lunches are going to fit.

“I need a Sherpa,” I tell Andy.

“You need a Sherpa-rone,” he says because he thinks he’s quite witty.

On the day of the field trip, we get our list of students to watch.  The other parents have two kids in their groups.  I have four.  I also note that two of my kids are on the energetic side.  Once, when I was helping in Annabelle’s class, I watched one of them hop out of his chair to do a couple of barrel rolls on the carpet.  When the teacher told him to sit down, he ran back to his friend and said, “A monkey just hit me in the face!”  I loved it.  But how am I going to protect him from these violent monkeys while feeding and diapering a baby?

But it’s fine.  It’s only one day.  How hard can it be?

When we arrive at the pumpkin patch, the teachers hand out packages of Goldfish as the children get off the bus.  One of the kids in my group rejects the Goldfish, which are my favorite snack in the world.

“I have my own snack,” he says, eying my overstuffed backpack that holds his lunch.

“OK.  Let’s just walk over here and sit with your class, and then I’ll get it out for you.”  The walk is maybe thirty steps.

“I want my snack.”

“Sure, let’s just walk over here.”  Twenty-five steps left.

“I want my snack.”

“Yeah.  Let’s just sit first.”  Twenty steps.

“I have my own snack.  I want it.”

We continue this pattern every five steps for the remainder of the walk.  Once we sit, I take out his snack…and it’s Cheez-Its!

“You fool!” I say and throw them on the ground.  “This is the exact same thing!  They’re just shaped like squares instead of fish!”

I do not really do this.  Instead, I accept that we all like our unnaturally orange cheese shaped in different ways, even though I know the fish shape is infinitely superior to the square shape.  But he is five and young in the ways of the world, so I give him his incorrectly shaped processed cheese and he is appeased.  He later becomes my best friend by spending the rest of the trip exclaiming over the cuteness that is Carson’s feet.  Carson, who is going through a stage in which he is equally enamored with his feet, is happy to have found a kindred spirit.

I hoist my backpack on again, and someone tells me that it is dripping.  I open it to see my water bottle has leaked all over the kids’ lunches and now sits empty.  I am sad for the kids, but sadder still for my-soon-to-be-dehydrated-self.

“You are the chillest person ever,” a mom tells me.  “I would be freaking out.”

I like that I have successfully fooled her so I pretend to love it that the entire backside of my shirt and jeans is drenched.

A little while later, a high school helper surfaces and says she is in my group.

“Thank goodness!” I say and give her Carson, his diapers, and all of the wet lunches before checking the movie schedule on my phone—because maybe I can still catch a matinee?

I do not really do that.  Instead she and I shepherd the kids to some benches so they can sit while a woman talks to them about the life cycle of a pumpkin seed.  The woman’s microphone doesn’t work well, and we cannot hear her.  My group, including Annabelle, talks, plays in the dirt, and generally ignores her.  Carson babbles loudly.  The woman reprimands us, and I start to echo her.  But then I realize that I am also not listening because, to be honest, her talk is not all that riveting.  I think it’s hard that we expect more of five-year-olds than we can do ourselves.  So I let the children play in the dirt while Carson continues to babble at full volume.

Once that pesky learning part is over, the rest of the field trip is packed with fun.  We see goats and chickens, play in a fun playground, and ride a tractor trailer to feed the ducks.

“I have no idea where any of the kids in my group are,” a mother tells me as the children make a dash to throw food at the ducks.

“Eh,” I say.  “I can usually find three out of four of mine.”

She laughs like this is a joke.  But three out of four is a C, and if there’s anything I’ve learned from my students, it’s that there’s a special kind of peace reserved only for those who can find complacency in a C.

I want to enjoy the day because I’m the chillest person ever.  But in truth the field trip is an exhausting blur of feeding Carson, trying to diaper him while keeping him out of the dirt and hay and animal poop, watching his pacifier land in the dirt and hay and animal poop and wondering if the five second rule applies, Sherpa-ing lunches, and feeding Carson again.

But Annabelle holds my hand and snuggles with me throughout the trip, and at the end of the day when I ask her if she had a good time, she says, “Yes because I spent the day with Mommy.”

Then one of the kids in my group says he didn’t finish his lunch and hands it back to me.  But I tell him no, you and that lunch are riding the bus back together—because I made sure he got through the day without any monkeys slapping him in the face, so he can carry his own lunch home.  Fair is fair.

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Funny Run

The kids participated in their Fun Run, a school fundraiser where students run laps, and friends and family pledge donations.

In the weeks before the Fun Run, the students watched a show during lunch to hype them for the coming event.  Colin loved this, and every day after school, he summarized the unfolding plot for me and speculated on what would happen tomorrow.  Poor Annabelle found it stressful.

“I forget to eat because I’m watching the show,” she told me, “and there’s a woman who keeps walking around saying, ‘Eat!  Eat!’”

Too many things are stressful at school for Annabelle, and lunch is a time when she feels especially homesick.  “Don’t worry about it,” I say.  “You can eat your lunch after school.”

“I can’t!  The woman!  She keeps coming!”

Colin confirmed the persistence of the “Eat!  Eat!” lady.

I then coached Annabelle on how to pretend to eat.  It’s a life skill we all need sometimes, and I’m glad to see it’s being integrated into the Common Core Standards.

There was a competition among the classes for who could raise the most money for the run.  I gave a flat donation because we are not pledge-per-lap risk takers.  Unfortunately, the flat donations don’t count towards the class or individual totals.  This knocked my kids out of the running for the grand prize, which was three months of cereal, free!  Colin, ever the problem solver, told me that next year I should pledge $20 per lap, and he promised to only run one lap.  Twenty extra bucks would lock in the class win, and for the next three months, all I’d have to do for dinner is pour some milk over cereal.  I congratulated Colin.  If my kids learn nothing else in school, at least they’ll have figured out how to work the system.

Carson and I volunteered at the event.  Carson helped by sleeping in the front pack, and my main job was to refill water cups and to tell kids to cut down on trash by hanging onto their cups.  The kindergarteners were hilarious.  They were not into landfill lectures.  “Don’t throw away your cups!” I’d say.  They’d lock eyes with me, hold a cup over the garbage, and wordlessly release it like a mic drop.  Then they’d run a lap, grab another cup and make sure to hold eye contact with me while tossing it again.

I guess I should be happy they threw their cups away.  I watched another kid crush his cup, drop it in the grass, and run on like he was gunning for the Boston Marathon finish line.  (“It’s not a race,” the Fun Run people say, but no one believes them.)

Other kids drained their cups and then left them on the water table.  I tried to toss them whenever I noticed this, but sometimes I didn’t.  Then the empty cup would get refilled, another kid would grab it, and influenza was happy that it got to live another day.

Colin ran his little heart out and had a blast.  I watched him race another boy, edging him out for a lap, and then soundly beating him in subsequent laps.  “It’s not a race,” I told him.  “But way to leave that guy in the dust.”

Annabelle ran for about half of the time, got bored, and then hung out with me at the water table.  Every now and then she’d walk back from the water table to the finish line to get another tally mark, gaining credit for a full lap with only a fraction of the effort.  It did my heart proud, watching my five-year-old find and exploit a loophole.  It also reaffirmed my decision never to donate per lap.

In between this rigorous workout, Annabelle wanted to help fill the influenza cups.  Mostly, she poured water all over the table, and sometimes it accidentally made it into the cup.  Observing the children, she asked, “Why can’t these kids hang onto their cups?  Can’t they just follow the rules?”  Then she wandered to the finish line for another tally mark.  And I wondered why I keep sending her to school when it seems like she’s already learned everything she needs to know about life.  Except, I guess, how to eat while watching TV.

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Picture Perfect

About a year after Andy and I moved into our house, we were attempting to tame the mad jungle that was our yard when Andy stood up and started yelling, “Google!  Google!”

We hadn’t yet been married long, so I was unable to translate this into: “Hey Kirstin, that car that snaps photos to post on Googlemaps is here, so stand up and smile with me.”

That is how I ended up with a picture of myself picking weeds, bent over with my butt in the air, posted on the internet for all eternity.

Andy, incidentally, is smiling and waving.

I figured it was no big deal.  Eventually, Google would come around again, archive the old photo, and replace it with a new one.

Ten years later, and the photo of my house still includes me and my behind—because apparently Google thinks it’s more important to design lifesaving autonomous vehicles.

Or possibly the photo’s permanence is purposeful.  Maybe Google has a collection of embarrassing snapshots, and someone saw mine and said, “Ha!  Get a load of this one, Sergey!  It’s a keeper.”

I should be used to unflattering photos.  My parents have a collection of them from my childhood years when I didn’t know how to smile.  There are two ornaments that hang on my parents’ tree every year.  The first was made by my sister, who’s always had a talent for art.  It’s a Christmas tree with green fabric carefully glued to one side and red on the other, not a scrap of wrongly colored fabric daring to step out of place.  Her smiling picture rests in the center.  My ornament has green and red fabric mashed on top of each other with glue globs, except in places where the cardboard underneath is showing.  You can’t touch it because the glue’s still drying.  In the center is little me, brown ringlets carefully curled, grimacing fiercely for the camera.

Annabelle has inherited my childhood inability to master the smile.  She grimaces, but she adds her own touch of flaring her nostrils.  She’s also never looking at the camera.  I’m proud to say she outdoes me.

Colin and Andy both close their eyes for every picture we take.  Seriously—Every.  Picture.  We.  Take.  My reaction to this is an exponential curve in which I’m cool about it until about the twelfth time, after which my annoyance level skyrockets.  We all interpret this data differently.  I think, “Man, am I ever easy going about those two ruining every picture,” while Colin and Andy think that a 57th take is maybe pushing it, and why can’t Mom be happy with 56 pictures of them with their eyes closed.

Baby Carson is smiling goodness when I can catch him just right, with two dimples and a cleft chin.  You’d think he’d be the hard one.

Every year I have dreams of a Christmas card photo that’s like my sister’s ornament—with all of the pieces positioned neatly and artistically in their proper spots—and every year I get one that’s more in the style of my ornament.  Here’s what this year’s card looks like: One smiling baby.  Me, yelling, “Gaaa!  You blinked again!”  Andy and Colin, smiling with their eyes closed.  And then Annabelle, gazing off into the distance, grimacing and flaring her nostrils, looking like a little philosophical bull.  Happy holidays from the Kaisers!

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Time is the New Money

Andy and I sometimes play a game where we ask each other, “What would you do with an extra $10K?  Or what about $100K?  Or $1 million?”  Would we save it (boring), spend it on an RV (Andy and the kids’ answer), or spend it on an RV that we park at the Marriott so one of us can have a proper vacation with a hot shower and a soft bed?

But whenever we have a newborn, the currency changes, and the new question becomes, “What would you do with ten free minutes?  Or one free hour?  Or—gasp—a whole day of free time?”

Last week, I had a dentist appointment.  Lucky me!  Going to the dentist is my special alone time.  I knew I’d hit the jackpot when they told me I had to stay for X-rays.

The truth is that I do have free time because I’m up several times a night nursing Carson.  The catch is that my free time is at three in the morning.  Oh, and that there’s a baby attached to me.  Still, I shouldn’t waste these hours.  How can I enjoy this magical windfall of time that I’m always so desperate for during the day?

I can’t really go out.  Maybe I’m being a fuddy duddy, but I feel weird about hitting Bottom of the Fifth and throwing back a few shots with Carson attached to me.  We wouldn’t get in, anyway—because I’ve told him over and over that we can’t order his fake ID until he can hold his head up by himself.

I’m kidding.  What kind of mom won’t help her baby hold up his head to pose for his fake ID?  That’s just neglect.  Carson and I stay in because the local bars all close at 2.

What else can I do at three in the morning?  Sometimes I read or watch a movie.  Sometimes I stare off into space in a dazed, sleep deprived stupor.  Occasionally I doze a bit, but I’m not one of those people who can sleep when a little being is slurping and sucking away at me.  (Incidentally, that little being sleeps like, well, a baby.)

The last few nights, I’ve tried meditating to ease that newborn stress.  I’m using an app called OMG, I Can Meditate!  I’m pretty sure it’s the same one Buddha used.

This is not my first bout with meditation.  When I was pregnant with Annabelle, I tried Hypnobabies, a series of meditation sessions designed to teach me that labor contractions were merely pressure and that I could ignore them by going to my special place.

Ha.  They sure saw me coming, as my grandma would say.

Meditating while nursing Carson does help me relax, and I always imagine myself becoming a meditation rock star and doing it every day.  But I never stick with it—because after a few days it thoroughly bores me, and suddenly I can think of a thousand things I really have to do instead of sitting and counting my breaths.  I still want to achieve nirvana, but I’d like to multitask it by stopping by Raley’s on the way.

The meditation man with the voice like a waterfall tells me to feel genuine curiosity about how each breath is different from the one before it, so I try.  And the breaths are different, like little snowflakes.  But still I’d rather think about which Marriott we’d park our hypothetical RV in front of.

The app tells me to think of my stress as resistance, and to acknowledge that resistance.  I spent a couple of weeks doing this, but then I realized that I resist things because baby Carson resists them (loudly).  He’s the one who needs these meditation sessions.  I tried to tell him that, but he had no patience for the man with the waterfall voice.  Like mother, like son.  Instead, I decided to talk to him to coach him through his moments of resistance:

“Ah, I see you have resistance to your car seat.  Lots of resistance, actually.  So much that it’s good that you’re being restrained by a five-point harness.”

“Look.  Now you have resistance to the morning school run because you woke up at an ungodly hour.  Acknowledge that resistance, and then you will be able to overcome it.”

“It sounds like you have resistance to waiting two seconds until I’m ready to feed you.  Two seconds!  Everyone in the neighborhood is noting and acknowledging that resistance.”

Well, if Carson’s taught me anything, it’s that I was right about meditation being useless.  He’s been practicing for weeks with no visible progress.

I will admit that the waterfall voice man is right about one thing.  Each of Carson’s screaming breaths comes out differently.  But somehow I have no genuine curiosity about how the next one will be new and different from the previous one.  Mostly, I’m wondering when my next dentist appointment is, and if I feign concern over one of my teeth, can I get the X-rays again?

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Me & Odysseus

In the first week of school, my daughter Annabelle received two Falcon flyers.  This was a super big deal because she could turn them in for a prize.  I wasn’t sure where to take the flyers, so we stopped at the office and were told to give them to the teacher, who would put them in a box for a raffle drawing.  Problem solved.

The next morning, Annabelle’s head is full of these flyers.  We bring them to the teacher…who tells us we’re supposed to give them to the office.  OK, back to the office, where this time we are told to put them in a large plastic box outside the office for a drawing.  Mission complete!  It’s exciting, too, because Annabelle’s two flyers are the only two in the box, so she’s got this raffle in the bag.

Over the next couple of days, Annabelle’s two flyers are still the only ones in the box, and I begin to get suspicious.  Colin sees them and verifies that this is Not Where Falcon Flyers Go.  We go back to the office and are told again that they should have gone to the teacher, but the nice woman in the office takes pity on us and lets Annabelle pick out a little plastic dragon from the prize box.  The dragon is her favorite toy for exactly 27 minutes, which is about how much of my life was sucked away in pursuit of said dragon.

The Fun Run is coming to the kids’ school, and this means more prizes.  It’s super exciting, and Annabelle is pumped.  To motivate the kids to fundraise for the run, they are given cheap little plastic gears that are apparently the most thrilling toy ever.  Why I break the bank at Christmas over these kids is a mystery.  Annabelle is particularly tickled that the gear colors match each of her favorite stuffed animals.  There is a green one for Lambie, red for Foxy, white for Zebra, and yellow for Piggie.  Life could not be more perfect.

I log on to donate to the run.  The system prompts me to donate per lap, but I’m no fool.  I’ve seen Colin at that Fun Run, and he tears up the track.  I choose the flat donation.  The kids say that if I donate, they can get a prize.  Done.

After school the next day, Annabelle tells me that prizes were passed out, but she didn’t receive one.  Why didn’t my kids get a prize?  I have a budding theory that it is because I didn’t choose the donate-per-lap option.  Colin confirms that he has prize-less classmates who are the children of cheapskate, flat donation parents.

I tell Annabelle we can check on her prize tomorrow after school if she reminds me.  She is very helpful and reminds me before bed, when she wakes up in the morning, on the walk to school, and again when I pick her up.  We go to the office after school to ask about the prize, even though I am embarrassed out of my mind.  If I’d wanted a reputation at the school, it was not the crazy lady who is on an Ahab quest for Dollar Tree prizes.  The office tells us to go to the teacher, who—you guessed it—tells us to go to the office.

It takes a day to go back and forth and ask at the different locations, so Annabelle reminds me 72 more times.  Finally I am told to search the school for the Fun Run people.  Never in my life have I worked so hard to bring more cheap plastic toys into my home.

At last!  I locate the Fun Run woman, who says she has been told of my quest.  This confirms my suspicion that I am the most ridiculous person in the world.

“I don’t know why you didn’t get a prize,” she says.  “But sometimes when the donation is very large, it doesn’t register.”

Yeah.  I don’t think that’s what happened here.  But I’ll be sure not to fall into that little trap next time.

“Let me just go to my computer and verify that you donated,” she tells me.  So we wait around while she checks, but I don’t blame her.  If word got out that we got these prizes for free, people would be bashing in storefronts all up and down First Street.

The Fun Run woman returns with our prizes, and they are…more of the same plastic gears the kids already got.  It’s just a larger pack.  I hand them to Annabelle and brace for disappointment.

But Annabelle, God bless her, says, “Oooh!  It’s a double pack!”  Then she takes them home and connects them to her other little gears, and she reaches a level of contentment rivaled only by Buddha.

I spend the next three weeks fishing gears out of the couch cushions and picking them up from various places in the house, and I question whether it was worth it.  Did Jason ever look at his fleece and wonder what it was all for?  But then Lambie shows me the gears that match him—he now has three, six if you count Colin’s—and I am assured that I have somehow unlocked the meaning of life.

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Logging Lies

On the second day of school, Colin’s homework was to read for twenty minutes and fill out a reading log.  Colin reads a lot, so this log would be no problem.  But of course the day the reading log came home, there was no time to read.  Normally, I’d say, eh, you’ll make up the minutes later in the week.  But this was the first homework assignment!  It didn’t feel right to put it off.  Still, the day was packed, and bedtime came too soon.

The next morning before school, the blank reading log is still haunting us.  What to do?

“I know!” I say.  “You read Monday!  That was a school day.  Just list those minutes.”

Colin is reluctant.  The reading log had been passed out Tuesday.  So listing Monday minutes is Not Right.

But I make a good case for it, and he relents.  Then I suggest that he puts Tuesday’s date for the Monday minutes because, really, what’s the difference?

Colin reacts as if I’m suggesting reading log blasphemy.  He thinks, sure, we could be comfortable with fudging the date—if we are also comfortable with murder.

Fine.  He keeps the Monday date and then lists the book title.  It’s almost time to leave for school, but he’s close now, and I think he can make it.  He needs to list the exact times he started and finished reading, so I pretend to remember them.  Colin’s skeptical, but then I say with great authority that he started reading at 3:17 pm, and we move on.  Filling out this reading log is a long, slow slide into the den of iniquity.

Now Colin needs to know the page numbers he read.  We see from a previous entry he made in school that he must have left off on page 12.  “You probably started on page 5,” I say.  “Just put that.”

But no.  He thumbs through the book to find the correct number.  “Page 6,” he says after more precious Time to Leave for School minutes have ticked by.  Whew.  Good thing he didn’t listen to me and put page 5.

Suddenly I have another thought.  Colin also read Monday night!  He can list those minutes too!

Colin isn’t sure.  “Am I really allowed to list two separate entries for the same day?”

“You are,” I assure him.

He agrees, probably because he sees that the integrity of this reading log has been crushed like a snail under a tire.  Now he has to remember what he read that night.

Car and Driver magazine,” I say, glancing again at my watch.

He gives a slow shake of his head.  “No.  I think it was…Motor Trend.  But what pages?  I’ll have to go look.”

“No!  Just skip that for now.”

Colin sighs.  Skipping is Not Right, but he agrees.  “What were my start and end times?” he asks.

That’s a hard one since it was two nights ago, but fortunately Mommy remembers that it was exactly 8:33 pm -8:53 pm.

Whew!  We made it.  Reading log done before school.

“Wait!” Colin cries.  “It wasn’t Motor Trend I read.  It was a Lego book.  I’ll have to go to my room to check which one.”

“No!”  Now it is really Time to Go, and we are not going to be late over this reading log, which I begin to suspect is an assignment designed to slowly drive both of us mad.  “Just keep it Motor Trend for now, and you can change it after school.”

Oh, poor Colin.  Now I’m forcing him to go to school with his first assignment of the year filled with lies.  And I do feel for him.  I would have been the same way as a kid, wanting everything to be just right, and here I am, his mother, encouraging flippancy and fabrication.  He hates this.  Am I really okay with that?

But then I look again the clock and find that, yeah, I’m good.

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School Mournings

Ugh.  That morning school rush.  We always arrive at the school gates at the same time, somewhere around rushed-but-can-still-make-it-o’clock.  This year, I also have to get our baby ready to go in the morning.  It seems like we’d never make it with those added responsibilities, but we do—and we get there at the same Almost Late time as last year.  How is that possible?  It makes me think that last year, I should have had enough free time to train for a 10K and draw up a plan to end world hunger.  Instead, I emptied the dishwasher.

The goal every morning is to leave at 8:05.  So far we have hit 8:13 every day.  Why is there an 8 minute lag?  I’m using every minute to work toward the goal of leaving on time, but I begin to suspect I’m the only person working towards this goal.

Here’s what this morning looked like:

Ten minutes until it’s time to leave.  Colin is ready early!  He believes school is a vacuum that sucks away his time and soul, so he rejoices at his extra minutes and goes to play in his room.  He promises that he will come out immediately and be ready to go when I call him.

Baby Carson is almost done slurping milk, and I need to brush my teeth.  Annabelle just needs to put her shoes on.  This one is in the bag.

Annabelle is excited about a long-lost possum backpack that she has discovered in the dark netherworld of her closet.  We have already discussed where Possum came from (her aunt), when he arrived (Christmas one year), and who he was given to (probably Colin, but I pretend not to remember, as Colin is listening a little too attentively, and there is no time for a fight over possum ownership).

“Annabelle, go put your shoes on,” I say because I think we’re done with Possum’s origin story.

But Annabelle is not done.  “Sometimes Possum didn’t get enough air in the closet!  So do you know what he did?  Whenever someone opened the door, he breathed real hard to get more air.”  (Demonstration of Possum breathing hard to prevent his demise.)

“Oh, good thinking, Possum.  Go put your shoes on, Annabelle.”

“Do you know what Possum did when he got cold?  He put on a jacket!  Because there are lots of jackets in there!”

“Well done, clever Possum!  Go put your shoes on, Annabelle.”

“He also packed some food for himself for when he got hungry.  And he packed just enough for the days he was left in the closet.  It’s all gone now, but I took him out, so it’s okay.”

“Well, he better not have made a mess in there.”  Like I need another thing to clean up.  “Put your shoes on, Annabelle.”

“Guess what’s in Possum’s bag?” she asks because Backpack Possum is carrying his own little pack.  He’s like a little fractal possum.

“Food!” I guess.  “Or maybe his babies?  Or, I know!  School supplies.”

“No.  It’s stuffed with fuzz.”  (The “Duh, Mom” is implied.)

“Put your shoes on.”

“OK!”

She said OK!  Oh, sweet success, this is what you feel like.

Annabelle walks to the kitchen.

“Wait, where are you going?  Your shoes are not in the kitchen.”

“Oh!  Ha ha!”  Annabelle goes to the shoe rack.  As Etta James would say, “At Last.”

Before I brush my teeth, I call out, “Time to get your shoes on, Colin!”

“OK!  I just have to clean up real quick.”

Colin commences putting away his 57 Lego minifigures that he has somehow managed to scatter everywhere during his five minutes of free time.

When I come out from brushing my teeth, Possum is telling Colin about his closet experience.  No one has their shoes on.

I check on Baby Carson, who cannot find his blue fluffy blanket that he likes to be wrapped in for the morning school run.  He blames Daddy.  I do not disagree with him.

Our ten minutes are up, and what have we accomplished?  I’ve fed and burped the baby, brushed my teeth, gotten the baby in his car seat (sans blanket), gathered my purse, the baby carrier, and pacifier, and made sure the children have their backpacks stuffed with lunches, water bottles, and jackets.  Annabelle has helped Possum outline and pitch his memoir.  Colin has fought and won several Lego battles.  Carson has spit up all the milk I just fed him and lost his blanket.  We leave at 8:13 again.

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