We May Catch The Plague, But Our Lips Will Be Smooth

Every afternoon, when I pick Thing 2 up from school, I ask him, “What was something awesome that happened at school today?”  And every day — one hundred percent of the time –– that little man tells me something that happened at recess.  In his world, AWESOME can’t  happen at school, if it’s not happening on the playground, because WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WHO MAKE ME SIT STILL AND READ WORDS?!

Today was no different.  He loaded up into the car in the school parking lot, and chucked his backpack and lunchbox into the back, with nary a care in the world as to what homework assignments he might be bending up.  I got into the driver’s seat and asked, “What was something awesome that happened today?”

And he replied, “Well… at recess today I found a tube of Chapstick, and it was practically brand new.”

Do you know that sinking feeling mother’s get in the pits of their stomachs, when their sons are drafted for war?  It also happens at times like these, when they have potentially been exposed to germs.  You can bet your very last dollar that the sound that I emitted was a SCREECH, as I asked, “YOU DIDN’T USE IT, DID YOU??!!”

But, in my heart, I already knew.

Thing 2 said, “Well… I… um… I SMELLED it, Mom.  I smelled it for a long time, and it smelled delicious.  It smelled like a milkshake.  And don’t even worry, because I looked at it really good, and it was a CLEAN tube of Chapstick.”

And I screeched again, “Did… you… USE IT???!!!  DIDYOUUSEIT, DIDYOUUSEIT, DIDYOUUSEIT???!!!!!!”

“Just a little, Mom.  But remember?  I said it was CLEAN!”

I don’t know why tranquilizers for mothers during the parenting years aren’t sold as over-the-counter products.  I would have bought THREE of them this afternoon, because YES!  My kid used a CLEAN Chapstick that he found on the playground, that smelled like delicious milkshakes!

Anyway.

Once I recovered from the shock of that, we had a snack… and then we went to Thing 2’s soccer game.

 

The wind blew at hurricane levels, even though we are not in hurricane territory.  It was a biting wind, that let us know that our four days of glorious fall weather could break at any moment and turn into a raging blizzard, the likes of which even the residents at the senior center can’t remember ever seeing before.  The thing about Small Town is that we have six days of spring, followed by a blistering summer, and then we have five days of fall, which is chased off by the onset of winter, winter, winter.

And all that cold winter blowing in will probably end up chapping our lips, but listen!  I know where there’s a perfectly CLEAN tube of Chapstick.

And the bonus?  It smells just like delicious milkshakes!

Golfing With The Boys

High school golf is over.

This means that we no longer have to set our alarms, so that we can get the boy on a 5 AM bus for a golf tournament.  The joy I feel about THAT is equivalent to the joy one would feel when she has an ingrown toenail cut out by the foot doctor.  It just feels better instantly, as the pain evaporates, doesn’t it?  But then the boy threw a monkey wrench into our second day of Golf Freedom, when he announced last night, “I’m meeting some kids at the coffee shop at 6:30 AM.  It’s Jake’s birthday, and we’re all going for bagels.”

So there was THAT to get through this morning, which turned out fine, because I had to teach PE at 8:15 today anyway.  And?  For the record?  I think Jake needs to reconsider things for his next birthday, and just invite everyone out for 6:30 PM pizza.

But yes.  The boy finished up his fall golf season this last weekend, with a trip to state golf.  He played some of his best golf ever there, over the course of three full days, but he didn’t manage to snag a trophy.  No matter.  His mama loves him anyway, and she clapped like a raging lunatic every evening when he texted her his daily golf score.

And frankly, I am thrilled that golf practice is no longer a real thing at our house, because we are all four back at our dinner table.  Between working fifty to fifty-five hours every week at the golf course AND THEN practicing golf after school, the boy became a stranger around here this summer.  I felt like I needed to put mints on his bedroom pillow and leave a card with our WiFi password on it on his nightstand, exactly like we would do for a guest who stayed with us.  We knew we HAD another son; we just never SAW him.  It has been perfectly lovely to have him at our dinner table again this week, sharing about his experiments in chemistry lab and giving us the lowdown on all of his teachers and classes.  Thing 2 has been fascinated with the lab stories, as he asks every night, “Did you blow anything up, Bubbie?  Did anything EXPLODE?!”  And then Thing 2 kind of holds his breath in excited anticipation, because a giant explosion, involving fireballs the size of Chevy Suburbans, is kind of his love language.

But lo!  Not long before school started, the boy and Thing 2 and I all went golfing together, which is to say the boy and Thing 2 golfed, while I rode in the golf cart with them and sipped my lemonade.  We had such a fun time, just the three of us together, hanging out.

Thing 2 has the most interesting golf swing in the entire world.  We’ve decided that what this child plays is a cross between golf, hockey, and ninja kickboxing.

The two of them were chatting, as they approached this green.

THING 2:  “What club would you use here, Bubs?”

THE BOY:  “My putter.”

THING 2:  “I don’t know, Bubbie.  I overshot the green again, and I’ve got one helluva putt coming up.  Is this the type of golf course that frowns on you smacking the ball with a baseball bat?  I need to get a little distance here, or I’ll never make par.”

Afterward, we joined Hubs at his favorite restaurant for lunch, which is the gas station.  Yes… you read that right.  Hubs’ favorite place to eat in town is inside the gas station, where they serve a mean chili dog and grape Slushie.  I believe the term you’re looking for is HIGH CLASS and also REFINED and maybe even THEY MUST VACATION ON NANTUCKET FOR THE SUMMER, IN THEIR VINEYARD VINES SHIRTS.  Clearly, we are your people, and others want to be us.

This went down as a powerfully fine day, minus the fact that Thing 2 had a hard shell taco at the gas station (because taco?  Cheeseburger?  Mini pizza?  Nachos with liquid cheese?  Chili dogs?  They have something for everyone there!), and he wiped his greasy hands on my shirt by mistake.  This shirt is now considered to be my WORK OUTSIDE shirt, as well as my CAMP ON THE MOUNTAIN shirt.

Bless.

Y’all have a happy Wednesday evening.

 

Spilled Coffee, Spilled Mascara And Lego Trains

My PE schedule changed this year.  Since the dinosaurs roamed the earth, my first PE class has started at 9:15.  I took this for granted with two kids, because I could get everyone up and out the door by 7:45, and then I could breathe a sigh of relief.  I had plenty of time to take my own shower and sip my own cup of coffee in all the silence left behind, after the exodus of the children, and I was never crazy.

This year, I agreed to take a PE class at 8:15.

I know.

I have no idea what I was thinking either.

So now I basically run around the house like a hyper squirrel with a Mountain Dew IV drip on the days that I teach, as I get all the stuff done.  I make the lunches; I set out the breakfasts.  I make sure Thing 2 doesn’t look completely homeless with his daily wardrobe choice.  I rush myself through the shower, and I rush through the application of mascara.  (I’ve learned that this rushing during mascara time is usually a terrible choice, because last week I stuck myself in the eyeball with the mascara wand, and this week I dropped the wand down my face, so that a black trail commemorated the fall.)  I have decided that I have no idea how working mothers get everyone out the door by 7:45.  Who are these women?  Do they get up at 3 AM to accomplish everything that needs to be done before they leave?  I stand in awe of any woman who successfully pushes children and husbands and herself straight out of the front door before the bells toll eight.  As for me and my household, we are going to have to revisit the morning schedule for my PE days, because we are turning into a wide pot o’ crazy over here.

This morning, the boy wanted soft boiled eggs for breakfast, because we have just recently learned how to make them.  Oh, I’ve been able to boil eggs successfully for at least a couple of years now, but last month I saw a recipe for THE SOFT BOILED EGG, which was then dropped onto HOT BUTTERED TOAST, and I said to myself, “I think the party is right there.”  So I  made them one morning (one SUMMER morning, when nobody had to be anywhere on time, except for Hubs, who is fairly independent).  They were delicious.  The following morning, I made them for the boy, because the boy is in love with fried eggs, where the yolk runs free and spreads all over the plate.  He has never been a fan of the BOILED egg, because… well... the yolk is solid.  So, I was fairly certain he’d love this new recipe (*wink wink*).  I made them, and it was true:   The boy rose up, and he called me blessed among mothers.  He complimented me AT LEAST three dozen times on how wonderful his eggs were that day, and then he asked me for “the recipe.”

I simply told him, “It’s a boiled egg that doesn’t stay in the water as long.”

WHO EVEN KNEW?!

Six and a half minutes, in a pot of boiling water, and there you are, people.  Go ahead and thank me now, if this changes your life, because it will change your life FOR THE BETTER.

We have eaten our weight in boiled eggs at the Jedi Manor lately, because soft boiled eggs and hot buttered toast are better than Christmas morning.  Even Hubs has gotten on board with them, which is nothing short of miraculous, because Hubs has always been opposed to ANY egg with a mushy yolk.  If the yolk isn’t pale yellow and hard as a golf ball, Hubs turns up his nose and walks away, commenting that anyone who touches it will develop salmonella.

But one morning, he looked at the boy’s plate of soft boiled eggs and announced, “Those look good.”

Well…

… DUH.

And that’s how I have come to be the egg-boiler in the mornings.  Everyone wants one, except Thing 2, who would rather be stabbed through the gut with a rusty sword than be in the same room with an egg.

ANYWAY.

This morning, there was a lot of rushing and a lot of me yelling out, “Hurry!  Everyone!  Please!  Just… HURRY UP!!”  So… you know… a USUAL sort of work morning for me.  Hubs made me a cup of coffee, because he’s still the romantic man I married, twenty-three years later.  I ran with my coffee to the bathroom, because I had a date with a mascara wand that was going to fall down my face and leave a black trail of horror on my cheek, but FIRST!

FIRST… I had to open the medicine cabinet to get the toothpaste…

… and I knocked a prescription bottle of old eye drops out of the cabinet.

That bottle of eye drops fell straight to its death…

… in my coffee cup.

It landed much like a six year old demonstrating the belly flop at a local neighborhood swimming pool, so… AS YOU’D EXPECT… coffee was displaced (Do you like my smart science term there?!).  It basically exploded out of my cup like a raging volcano, spraying beige-colored coffee and cream all over everything within a twenty-six foot radius.

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy… down in my heart!”

I had to do some happy singing, before I cried over spilled cream and coffee.

And then I got myself to school, and I was even on time, which was a stunning revelation, considering that I had to clean mascara off my face and coffee off of everything and cook runny boiled eggs.

So now… we play catch-up on the blog, because I have been a negligent blogger, but we talked about that last night.

Long before school started… long before we cut the curls off, at Thing 2’s insistence… our second son decided to work toward earning a Lego train set.  I know that YOUR KIDS are all perfect and adorable, so they’d NEVER need to correct certain behaviors, using a reward system, but we found ourselves smack in the middle of that territory.  So… I bought the coveted Lego train set and a package of neon garage sale stickers.

On days when Thing 2’s behavior choices were pleasing unto me, he got to put a sticker on the box.

And when he had accumulated enough stickers, the Legos were his.

I have never seen such a willing student, who was determined to change, because TRAINS and LEGOS are his love languages.  This was the pinnacle of everything that could make Thing 2 happy in life.  We had a couple of weeks of GLORIOUSLY WONDERFUL BEHAVIOR, and Mama was happy.  And Thing 2 was happy, as well, because every neon dot was one day closer to building that train set.

And then…

… it happened.

He had collected enough sticky dots, according to our notarized contract and legal terms.

He set up shop in the living room, which is Grand Lego Building Central at our house.  This insures that there are ALWAYS plenty of Lego pieces for us to find in the dark of the night, with our bare feet.

Bless.

(On a side note, Thing 2 stepped on a Lego brick with HIS bare feet one day about two weeks ago, and bawled his pain to the heavens and the earth.  I felt a little sorry for him, but basically I just relished the chance to shout, “This is why I tell you to pick up the Legos!  Because I’m always the one who steps on them with MY bare feet, and NOW YOU KNOW!!!”  Fortunately, I said none of this, because I am a very mature parent.)

The little man built and he built and he built.

And then he built some more.

He studied instructions.

He cried when one section didn’t work out, and then he recruited his older brother to retrace his steps in the manual for him, until that eighteen year old had found the error.  Together, they dismantled one section and added the missing brick, which made everything line up right.

Big brothers are worth their weight in gold when it comes to Lego help.

By that afternoon, Thing 2 had a train.

And let’s just take a moment to look at those curls.

Sigh.

His mama begged to grow them long, but Thing 2 shut that dream down the week before 1st grade started.  He likes his hair SHORT… and the shorter, the better, as far as he’s concerned.

Which means that a shaved military haircut… at a military school… instead of a Lego set… might work out fine the next time we need to get rid of some unwanted behaviors!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

That Little Faithful Blogger Of Yesteryear

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wasn’t very good at scrapbooking.  It probably had a lot to do with the fact that she wasn’t very good at crafts, because crafts made her need to sit down, with her back against a wall and her head hung between her knees, as she drew in long breaths of air to keep herself from hyperventilating.  (She hyperventilates easily, because she is dramatic, but that’s a story for another day.)  Oh, she WANTED to be good at scrapbooking, because all of her friends were diligently using those crimped scissors to make scalloped edges on THEIR photos, to perfectly preserve their trip to Cancun and the arrival of their new Golden Retriever and the time when their kid was five and lost his first tooth.  She wanted to have a fully-finished scrapbook, too, to whip out at dinner parties and declare, “It was nothing.  Just four hundred and seven hours of labor with the glue stick and $14,000 spent on fancy paper and stickers.”

But the truth is, she gave up on scrapbooking because when her boy was five, she had completed the first four months of his life on acid-free scrapbook pages.  There they were, in all of their full-color glory, with every manner of fancy paper involved.  Four entire MONTHS.  She had documented his birth.  She had documented the first night he slept in his crib.  She had documented the first time he had a bath and the first time he ate baby food and the first time his grandparents held him.  But… the boy was FIVE YEARS OLD, and she was behind enough to make her OCD personality need a nerve pill.  And that’s when it dawned on her:  cutting pictures into fancy circles and asking the Lord for a vision on the layout style for her pages (that would impress the world and get her into scrapbooking magazines) was so time consuming, she would never catch up.

And that’s how the boy became a nine-year-old, who was tall enough for the third grade, and the scrapbook still sat in a basement box with no pages to turn after the page celebrating LOOK!!  HE IS FOUR MONTHS OLD NOW!

So she started blogging, because blogging was all the rage, and WAHOO!!  There is no glue involved and no glittery stickers to worry about!  So while her husband was on a business trip, that girl who was every bit as good on a computer as Martha Washington was, started a blog with nary a second’s help from the husband.

Because he was out of town.

She texted the blog link on her old flip phone, when texting took two minutes for five words, to the man she loved and said, “Look what I have done!”

And that husband texted her back and said, “I am so proud of you,” because emojis didn’t exist yet, so he had to use real words instead of his favorite THUMBS UP picture.  And then he came home from his business trip with a book entitled BLOGGING FOR DUMMIES, which she immediately devoured, because WHAT ON EARTH HAD SHE GOTTEN HERSELF INTO?  But, lo!  She was committed, and she faithfully blogged five nights a week, come the first frost in Hell or high waters in Small Town.  She was determined that this blogging endeavor would not be like the scrapbooking hobby.

And it went on and on for years.  The boy grew.  He lost more teeth.  He grew his hair long; he cut his hair short.  He turned ten and then thirteen and… yes!  Even eighteen!  He got a frog for a pet, he had Nerf gun wars with his friends.  He hosted sleepovers with his buddies; he went to prom.  He got a little brother.  The girl got older, and so did her husband, and there she was… still blogging like it was HER JOB.  Look, everyone!  She had quit scrapbooking and she had quit step aerobics and she had quit her George Foreman grill, but SHE HAD NOT QUIT BLOGGING!!

The little brother grew up.  He ate baby food; he crawled.  He lost teeth; he went to kindergarten.  She recorded it all, right there on the World Wide Web, just like it was her digital scrapbook.  She wanted to write a post about how he slept through the night, but that never happened, because she had taken so much pride in how well her firstborn slept, the Good Lord told her to settle down and see what life was like underneath of her pride, where her second child stayed awake more hours than he didn’t.

And then somewhere along the line, during Hell’s trifecta of great hotness, when it was June, July and August in Small Town and she was sweating like a pink pig the week before Easter, she let a few nights slip on the blog.

And then she let a few more nights slip on the blog.

She was tired.  The younger son was always awake.

The laundry piled up like fourteen people were living in her house and taking all their clothes off for showers.  She wondered how four people could generate so much laundry, and how she could get it to stop.  She suggested they all pick a favorite outfit and wear it for an entire week, but… even though she lived with nothing but menfolk who don’t put too much stock in smelling fresh… they declined her suggestions.  They continued changing clothes frequently.  The laundry baskets grew heavier and heavier, until she wanted to cry.

So… she let a few more nights slip on the blog, because she was waist-deep in mounds of freshly washed socks and T-shirts that all had to be folded, and she was living in a time when she considered getting up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning with the little man as SLEEPING IN.

And then there was dinner.  Every single night, they all wanted to eat, and it was so hot, and she was still folding laundry, so WHY COULDN’T THEY MAKE CAP’N CRUNCH IN A BOWL?!  Though they professed their love of cold cereal, they only wanted that in the mornings, like traditionalists.  In the evenings, they wanted meat and potatoes.  They wanted fruit.  They wanted noodles and sauces and fried this and sauteed that.  They wanted everything…

… except vegetables.

So she let a few more nights slip on the blog.

And then sometimes, when all the planets were lined up just right and the wind was blowing slowly out of the east, she and that husband would find a couple of minutes before the washing machine bells chimed to sit on their deck and drink pineapple rum mixed up right with frozen fruit.

So she let a few more nights slip on the blog.

And now… here it is… the middle of SENIOR YEAR and the FIRST STINKING GRADE, and she feels like she’s back at that old scrapbook page labeled FOUR MONTHS.

But, she is a feisty girl, who has been known to pull her act together before.  Even though she walks through the valley of the shadow of little sleep, she will try to blog.  Even though her sprinklers are currently broken and the lush greenness of her front lawn is being threatened by NO DRINKS THIS WEEK, KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS… and even though the husband keeps sending her to the basement to turn handles on water pipes, but she accidentally turns the handle on the gas pipe instead, because WHERE ARE THE DISTINCT LABELS?, she will try to blog better.  Even though the six year old is still a rotten sleeper… even though one of her cats has done an ungodly thing and… AHEM!… WET on her carpet and caused her to HATE CATS and want to SKIN CATS, because OH, HOLY MOTHER OF SCOOBY-DOO!! THE STENCH!!!… and even though the laundry pile is still obscene… and even though she still has to pack a lunch that follows the guidelines of GLUTEN-FREE AND ALSO DAIRY-FREE, but adheres to the term KID FRIENDLY, every single weekday morning… and even though someone at her house used a ballpoint pen to make superhero signs on a T-shirt that must be dealt with… and even though the toilet in her bathroom keeps running but seldom flushing… and even though she committed herself to helping teach Sunday School to first graders on Sunday mornings, FOR THE ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR, even though this is not her spiritual gift… she will try to be more faithful at blogging.

Amen and selah.

 

Opening Game

Well… Thing 2 opened up his soccer season late this afternoon with five shots on the goal.

He hit the goal post three times.

He missed the goal by inches once.

And he was shut down by the defense on his last attempt to score a point for Team Red.

But… even though he didn’t score a goal this time around, our little man played soccer like a professional maniac tonight.  He was all over the field, kicking constantly and not really passing when he should.

I believe that would be… well... #ballhog.

After the game, the little fellow who brought snacks passed out tall plastic bottles full of bright red corn syrup, to celebrate Team Red’s win.  (Yes. We won, three to one.) Thing 2 cracked the top off that drink and slurped it down like a dying man in the desert, as he gasped, “My mom NEVER lets me have this stuff!  I don’t even care that I missed all my goals tonight, because we got RED DRINKS!!”

If that isn’t genuine happiness, then I don’t know what is!

Y’all have a good Wednesday evening.

 

All The Cool Girls Have Kids Like Mine

Hi.

I’m new here.  (Clearly, because POST MUCH LATELY?!)

I’m just looking for the cool girls in the lunchroom.  And by cool girls, I mean the other moms who have had a woman stop them in the grocery store, while their backs were to the shopping cart and say, “Excuse me?  I’m a little worried about your child.”  Worried about my child?!  What?!  And then it became obvious, because LO!  There he was, in the cart behind me.  His feet were IN the shopping cart.  His hands were ON THE DIRTY GROCERY STORE FLOOR.  His body was pressed up against the end of the cart, obviously UPSIDE DOWN, as he hung there, attempting some trapeze experiment that other children aren’t brave enough to try.

Bless.

And if that wasn’t enough to test the Jesus in me this week, then let me tell you this:  On Saturday night, we had a barbecue in our cul de sac.  Oh, it wasn’t THAT which tested the Jesus in me. THAT was all fun and wonderful, because who doesn’t love sitting in lawn chairs in the middle of your cul de sac, drinking strawberry daiquiris and eating pulled pork sandwiches and homemade potato salad with all your fun neighbors?  But later… when we were running well past our very-rigid bedtime schedule, Hubs and I successfully got Thing 2 to bed at 9:30.  It was the easiest bedtime in the history of all the bedtimes of non-sleeping children.  Brushed his teeth, put the jammies on, said his prayers, and boom!  Boyfriend was out cold, because a long week of first grade will do that to a young man.

But then Thing 2 got up at midnight.

And he went back to sleep at 5:30 AM.

Now, I’m not a math genius, but I can do the subtraction there and come up with the answer of THING 2 WAS AWAKE ALL NIGHT.

EVEN COLLEGE KIDS GO TO BED BEFORE 5:30 IN THE MORNING!!!

And THAT is what tested the Jesus inside of me.

But…

… after a shaky start last night, because we were JUST TOO TIRED TO SLEEP (because that’s a real thing, people!  A real dadgum thing!)…

… we got Thing 2 asleep at 9:30, in the middle of the tears and the thirty requests for a glass of water…

… and then we had this:

It was glorious, and it lasted until 5:15 AM today, because WHY would it last any longer than that?!

So yes.  If you can direct me to the cool girls, who are also exhausted and have coffee and cream in oversized soup bowls, because a mug just isn’t big enough, that would be great!

Happy Monday, y’all.

 

Your. You’re.

Not all days are Pinterest days.

Some days are just messy.  They’re full of unmade beds and headaches and hurt feelings and cat barf on the floor and wet bath towels draped and left over wooden bed frames to rot.  They’re full of finding out there’s not enough half and half for a cup of coffee.  They’re full of lunch spilled on a shirt and little boy pee all over a toilet seat and coming out of the grocery store to discover that the car parked next to you parked THISCLOSE, so you have to get in your passenger door and crawl over your gear shift, to get to the driver’s seat.  They’re days filled with screams and tantrums and hair that didn’t turn out right in the morning and miniature spiders that bite you in the arm, while you’re standing outside, waiting for your kid to come out of his school.  (That tiny spider is dead, by the way, and I’m sad to say that I don’t believe he went to be with Jesus.)

Days like this are messy days, topped off with bad attitudes.

I’ve had one of those today, but then… tonight… I was slumped in the living room chair, mindlessly looking at Instagram and grumbling, while I used up all my energy, feeling sorry for myself, when I found THIS little gem:

I won’t lie… I laughed out loud.  The grammar nerd inside of me couldn’t help it.  (Of course, the punctuation nerd inside of me wanted to add some capital letters and a couple of periods, but I won’t gripe about that right now.)

Anyway… now I can end the day with a smile.

Clearly, it’s the little things in life…

Y’all have a happy Labor Day Weekend.

1st and 12th

And… here we go.

This morning, I sent them off to the first day of the 1st grade…

… and the first day of the 12th grade.

And right after I snapped these pictures this morning, I pretty much burst into tears, because of WELL, THAT’S OVER.  It was the LAST first day of school picture for the boy.  Pretty much, I’m going to need someone to rock me and pat my cheek and brush my hair this year, as I try to cope with how fast I know the next nine months are going to fly by, before graduation smacks us across the face.  I just want to frantically scramble around and attempt to put the sand BACK IN the hourglass this year.

But… I DO KNOW that these two boys are going to do big and bold and brave things this year, and I pray that it’s a fantastic year for both of them.

Picnics And Friends

Occasionally, moms need a break from cooking dinner.

Actually, that might just be me.  And by occasionally, I really mean that I need a break every single night.  Some moms breast feed; some shuffle into the kitchen at 2 AM to mix formula with purified water and warm it up in a bottle.  Some moms teach their three year olds to play the cello and sing songs in Spanish; some push their kids out the backdoor every morning over summer break and tell them, “Please don’t eat all the dirt out there.”  (Never mind teaching mine Spanish; he can’t even learn to keep the dirt out of his mouth.)  And some moms cook.  I know moms who make exotic Thai dishes with organic vegetables from the garden in the backyard.  I know a mom who makes HOMEMADE NOODLES every time she makes spaghetti.  I know moms who make jam and pickles from scratch.  I know a mom who boils parts of chickens I can’t even talk about without throwing up, so that she can make her own broth.

And then there’s me.

I bought a full meatloaf from the deli in the grocery store two nights ago, and I microwaved that thing, along with a tub of mashed potatoes from the deli, and I felt like Wonder Woman, because dinner was on the table in thirteen minutes.  Of course Hubs said, “You can really hide a lot in a meatloaf.  I mean… is this beef?  Is it?  Or is it horse meat?”

And then dinner was pretty much over for all of us, and meatloaf may be dead to me forever.

But… sometimes… moms need a break from cooking, which is when you get a group of them together and shout out, “Family picnic!”  And that’s how we ended up with three families at the park the other night.  We all loaded up homemade sandwiches and chips, except for the fancy family, who got store-bought chicken and genuine cheese curds, hot out of the oil, that made the picnic area smell like Heaven probably does.  We all sat around the metal picnic tables, said the blessing, and talked.

We talked and we talked and we talked, because the kids had a playground and a creek to play in, so they left us alone!  Moms and dads — all of us good friends for years — sat around and mooched cheese curds off the family who was smart enough to bring enough to share, and we laughed our heads off, talking about grownup things, while our children ran the equivalent of an Iron Man Triathlon, between the water and the old-school, very-dangerous, full-on-metal, violates-every-safety-code merry-go-round.

We had a perfectly lovely evening, which we all desperately needed. Nobody had to cook, and we all got to hang out.  In addition to needing a night off from making dinner, moms sometimes just need a play date with one another, too… and so do dads.  I think the three dads were just as excited to hang out together as the moms were at our little spontaneous picnic.

Only three of our tribe members were brave enough to do the creek, because the air wasn’t your typical THIS HEAT IS GONNA KILL ME DEAD LIKE A HOUSEFLY IN A SPIDER’S WEB type of Small Town evening.  Instead, it was a bit cooler that day.  The majority of our tribe opted to stay dry and warmer, so they chose the playground.

But three of them?  They were fully ON for water play, until their lips turned blue and the goosebumps covered them, from the tops of their heads to the bottoms of their cute little toes.

Eventually, the shivers got even the die-hards, so they decided to hang out at the playground with the smarter kids, who understood from the very beginning that cooler evenings and mountain-fed creeks oftentimes lead to hypothermia.

Thing 2 practiced for his career in operating heavy machinery…

His buddy, Little T, showed everyone how ripped his biceps, sides and ab muscles are, as he practiced for his career in operating carnival rides…We had kids running all over the place.  We had kids climbing all over the place.

We even had kids READING all over the place!

Some of the children thought that it would be a good idea to bury themselves in the playground’s sand.

You know… while their swim trunks were still sopping wet, because WHY NOT?!

The end result was a horror story for clean cars.

My only wish for mothers everywhere is that THEY COULD ALL have a child like Thing 2.  I  hate that some moms are deprived of the backseat of their cars being filled with sand and ALL THE NATURE THAT SHOULD STILL BE OUTSIDE IN NATURE, INSTEAD OF ALL OVER MY VEHICLE.

(I feel like I should call Tide and see if they’d like to feature our boy in a television commercial entitled NOW… HOW WILL WE GET THAT PAIR OF SWIM TRUNKS CLEAN AGAIN?)

Thankfully, Little T’s mama is good friends with her own giant jug of Tide, too.

These two boys had to brave the chilly creek water once again, because AIN’T NO WAY YOU’RE BRINGING THAT SAND INSIDE THE FORD, BROTHER!!  AIN’T NO WAY!!

And then… after everyone was rinsed and dried, we threw away our dinner scraps and loaded up into our cars.  We’d had the best evening, talking and laughing and eating and swatting wasps.

And just because I got out of cooking for one night…

… it didn’t mean that I got out of laundry the next day, because THAT SWIMSUIT!!

Y’all have a happy Sunday night.