The Weekend of the Pizza and the Football and the Wall and the Gravel

How many different things can you do in one weekend?


Because our little family of three can CRAM a weekend to full capacity.

On Friday night, Rival Town was here to play Small Town High in football.

Rival Town, people! It’s like the Broncos playing the Raiders, only WORSE. Just worse. Just plain worse!

In anticipation of the night’s big game, I looked in our fridge at precisely 4:30 PM to see what I could make for dinner. Our choices were scrambled eggs or Round Four of The Great Pot of Chili.

(Note to self: If you double the chili recipe on a cold, frigid night when it is actually raining, when you have to watch the boy play football outside in the non-optimal weather and it takes a parka and a blanket to keep you warm, it will taste remarkably wonderful when you get home. And leftovers the next day for lunch will be fantastic. And then, as Indian Summers are want to do, the weather will warm up again, and you will be stuck with enough chili to still accommodate a busy soup kitchen. And, eventually, chili will no longer sound good. So really? For a family of three? Listen, Self. Let’s NOT double the recipe again, m’kay? Doubling the recipe is for company. Company in the wintertime. It’s not for the three of you, during the Indian Summer weeks, when you still have to crank out a couple more days in the 90-degree arena.)

At 4:30 on Friday afternoon, neither the scrambled eggs nor Chili: Round Four sounded good, so I texted our friends, Paul and Katie.

“What are u having 4 dinner?”

I was looking for inspiration. An idea for something to whip up.

Katie texted back. “No immediate food plans. U?”

Ha! It suddenly dawned on me that Small Town, USA has a brand-spanking new pizza parlor, and those who have managed to beat the lines and gotten in are raving about. RAVING. I fired off another text to Katie.

“New pizza parlor? 5:00? B4 big game?”

They were in.

In less than twenty-five minutes, I managed to fluff my hair, squirt myself with perfume, brush my teeth, apply a fresh coat of lip gloss, gather sweatshirts and blankets for the game, run the boy through the bathroom, find two shoes for him that actually matched, pick Hubs up from work, and WHEW! We were at the pizza shack at precisely 5:01.

I was quite pleased with that time!

And listen, Small Town dwellers! If you haven’t gotten in yet, go! Run like the wind! The salad bar is served in a couple of antique, claw-footed bath tubs, and I loved it. The pizza was great. The atmosphere was fantastic. And…AND!!…big screens everywhere, so Paul and Hubs were entranced with Sports Center.

There were, in fact, so many different big screens mounted everywhere, that it was sort of like Sports Center SURROUND! Clearly, this is every man’s dream…to be able to turn in his chair in any direction (left, West, right, North) and see highlights of sporting events!

(And really? I have no idea who owns the new pizza parlor, so the honest truth is that they didn’t even pay me to say this!)

Paul and Katie and Hubs and I laughed our heads off all evening, over the best pizza I’ve had in a long, long time, while our pack of children played video games in the back. The boy’s good buddy, Carter, was there, too, and the children loved the arcade games as much as the big boys loved the TVs.

And listen, people. The topic at the table on Friday night turned to church camp. Hubs and Paul faithfully went to church camp every year together, since they were in junior high, and I just now learned that they…ah-hem!…shared a girlfriend.

A girlfriend from church camp!

Oh, not at the same time! No, not at all. Apparently, Hubs came home from church camp, and claimed her as his. And he said that it lasted an entire week of his life when he was fifteen years old, and then, as high school relationships are prone to do, it ended.


And then, Paul decided to date her after that. And I laughed until my sides hurt as Paul described dating her during the winter months in Small Town, when the temperature was equivalent to what it takes to keep your ice cubes from melting, and he decided to ride his motorcycle across town to see her, because hello! He was fifteen years old and couldn’t legally drive a car yet! Paul made us laugh until we cried, as he described pulling over on his motorcycle, time and time again, so that he could place his frozen hands against the tailpipe and warm them up!

And really? It tickled my funny bone immensely to learn that these best buds dated the same girl. Not even Theresa and I did that in high school! Oh, no! Theresa and I never shared a boyfriend! And you can bet that if we HAD shared a boyfriend, we would have been plum smart enough not to drive our motorcycle across town to visit him when it was MINUS 100 degrees outside, thank you very much.

Eventually, I laughed myself right out of a contact lens at the pizza parlor, because I rubbed the tears from my eye, and I managed to rip my contact in half.

Ripped it right down the center, people. Clearly, it had to come out of my eye, so I was left at the dinner table as a half-blind girl.

And if you don’t think that does something for your equilibrium and the motion sickness, THEN THINK AGAIN!!

The dinner party had to come to an end, and Hubs and I hightailed it back to our house, so I could reacquaint my eyeball with another contact lens, so that I could see again!

And then we all went to the football game together, because IT WAS RIVAL TOWN, PEOPLE!!

I have never, in all of my years, seen the stadium THAT full. People were sitting on laps; people were sitting in the aisles of the bleachers; people were standing at the railings. People were EVERYWHERE! Small Town High was 4 and 0 to start the season, and we had every hope that we’d put the holy smack down on Rival Town and bump our status to 5 and 0.

And really? Things looked good for a long, long time. We cheered our hearts out. During the 3rd quarter, I even fired off a text message to Theresa (who actually lives in Rival Town now) and said, “Ha! 10 to 7! We’re ahead! Take that! Bwwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!” (I like to punctuate my bragging with a little mad scientist laugh there at the end.)

And then, with seconds left in the 4th quarter, Rival Town had the AUDACITY to tie the game up and force us into overtime.

And then (sheepish head hang inserted here), they beat us. By a field goal. And the entire Small Town side of the stadium sat in stunned silence, unable to move or say a single word.

Which is, of course, when my cell phone buzzed with this text message: “So? What was the final score? Bwwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

I USED TO adore Theresa.

Clearly, the moral of the story is simply this: If you want to ruin Small Town High’s chances of beating Rival Town, just get smug and text Theresa during the game. The good Lord above will frown on such bragging, and he will turn the game right around fast enough to make your head spin, and your hometown boys will lose it.

They will lose it at home.

By three stinking points.

And it will be all your fault.

On account of that bragging text you so pridefully fired off during the 3rd quarter.

Dear Small Town High School Football Team,
It is all my fault that you lost on Friday night. Even though y’all kept waving your hands for fair catches and refused to try to advance the ball during kick-offs, it was MY fault that you lost. And I humbly apologize. I will, from here on out, refrain from sending prideful texts to Theresa when you are looking so good. You’re still hot, guys.
Jedi Mama

Hubs and the boy and I returned home, and we were a little bit grumpy.

On Saturday morning, Hubs decided that it was time to work on our retaining wall again.

Our retaining wall, which we started way back during that first week of June.

We don’t like to rush ourselves on big projects.

Hubs and the boy left bright and early, and they returned home with the entire back of Hubs’ truck filled with gravel. Hubs happily pointed it out and told me, “Get a shovel, Baby!”

And do you know what? Shoveling gravel is something that I just downright love and adore. I’m always telling Hubs on weekends, “I wish to high heaven that someone we know would just go get a truckload of gravel today, so that I could spend the entire day shoveling it. Why don’t our friends care enough about us to do this for us? Why doesn’t anyone invite me over to shovel gravel on the weekends? Why don’t people ask me to their Gravel Shoveling Parties???”

People, with the exception of about eight shovelfuls, which Hubs did there at the end, I shoveled that entire truckload of gravel into a wheelbarrow, and Hubs used his manly biceps to haul the wheelbarrow around the Great Retaining Wall of Small Town and dump it. I’d like to say that my biceps are now as manly as Hubs’ are, but the honest truth is that they’re nothing more than a shaky lemon Jell-O mold.

And also? My hamstrings woke up screaming foul words at me this morning.

Although Hubs and I put the boy to work all morning yesterday, the lucky little lad got out of it for the afternoon, because poor Sister was sick with the bronchitis, and Sister’s Husband was on the mountain doing some grocery shopping for his family (that is, he was hunting), and Sister needed a nap. So seven-year-old L and five-year-old K spent the entire afternoon and evening with us.

While Hubs and I shoveled, the boy babysat.

And this is how the boy babysits his cousins. He gets a costume out of his dress-up tub for everyone, and they all dress up, and then they run like madmen around and around and around our house. And then later everyone gets tattoos on their arms.

The washable kind, of course.

On Saturday night, when I could barely move and my hamstrings were numb, I told Hubs, “The children will not eat the leftover chili.” (Because, honestly. We still had it in our fridge! And the boy declared, during Chili: Round One that it had entirely too many stewed tomatoes in it, and that it just wasn’t a meal that he was interested in ever seeing again in his lifetime.) I went on to tell Hubs, “My arms hurt so badly, I am not even going to be able to lift my toothbrush tonight, let alone drag out a frying pan and make scrambled eggs. Even though I look like death, I am going to McDonald’s to secure Happy Meals for the children. FOR THE CHILDREN, HUBS!”

And I did. I had not showered on Saturday, because really? Why bother? If you’re going to shovel gravel and dirt all day, you really don’t need to wash your hair with the Biolage. I had no make-up on, because really? Why bother? The gravel and the dirt don’t care if your eyelids are covered in Clinique eye shadow. I had on jeans with holes in them. I had holes in my T-shirt. My hair was scraped back in the most unattractive ponytail I could have ever hoped to achieve. I had dirt on my face. My hands were black with goodness knows what, and I had, at some point on Saturday, managed to swallow a bug whole while I was shoveling.

America’s Next Top Model would have sent me home on Saturday, and usually I’m right there at the top of the list for contenders.

So, even though it went against my better judgement to leave the house looking like I did, I ventured out. FOR THE CHILDREN.

I placed my order at the drive-thru microphone, and worried that the people at the McDonald’s window would sneer at my appearance. As luck would have it, I got one of the cutest little high school boys in Small Town. I wanted to tell him, “Listen, Kid. I know you’re going to be getting off of your shift here pretty soon, and you’re going to dash off to collect your little girlfriend, whose name is probably McKenzie or Taylor or Mitzie, and she’ll have on her Silver jeans and her American Eagle sweater, and her hair will be shiny enough to be on a Pantene commercial, and the two of you will dash off to the late show together. But look at me! This is real life! And if you and Mitzie make it through high school and college together, and you get married, and you ever have to build a retaining wall together, you will show up with a truck filled to the brim with gravel, and you will ask her to help you shovel it. And if Mitzie is a good-hearted girl, she’ll grab a shovel and help you, even though she really wants to just hunker down on the sofa in front of a good Lifetime movie. And by the end of the day, she will look exactly like this. And she will have to dash down to McDonald’s so that she can FEED THE CHILDREN, because her arms will hurt too horribly to lift the frying pan to make them scrambled eggs, and because they will not eat the chili, and I just want you to know this one thing: You will probably still love Mitzie then, even though she looks exactly like I look at this very moment.”

Even though I thought all of this in my head, I didn’t lecture the poor boy. With the way I looked, I would have scared the snot plum out of him.

After I had fed the children, two of them were returned to Sister, and the boy and Hubs and I all ventured inside to clean ourselves up.

Because it was dark outside, and the back of the truck no longer had any gravel in it.

And then Hubs and I laid like slugs and watched the season premier of The Office and of Glee, because that is what the DVR is for, and then we slept the sleep of the dead.

This morning, when we got up, Hubs looked at me and said, “I am not doing anything today. I am going to church. And then I am sitting in my recliner to watch the Broncos play football. It’s because I can’t move any muscle on my body without wanting to scream in pain.”

And that, people, is what we did.

And the Broncos lost, but listen, people. None of it was my fault at all, because I had not (HAD! NOT!) fired off any texts to brag about them being ahead of the Colts at all. I totally learned my lesson on Friday night, where Text Bragging is concerned.

Eventually, the game came to an end, and Hubs and I invited our friends, Jeremy and Nina, and Ryan and Sarah, to come over for dinner at our house. It was a spontaneous invitation. The house wasn’t really clean enough for company. I had nothing to serve them except their choice of scrambled eggs or leftover chili.

So we got pizzas. And the six of us sat around our dining room table and howled with laughter, as Ryan, who used to be a sheriff’s deputy before he and Hubs decided to build their own business, regaled us with tales of catching bad guys and pinning them against the car. The kids played and played and played in the boy’s bedroom, because he has a 45-gallon tub filled with Lego pieces, and hello! Do you know that the Eiffel Tower was built with less material than that? The kids created enormous Lego structures, and it was just a very nice evening.

And now?

The weekend is over.

And my hamstrings still hurt.

And my biceps still ache.

And I still have a carton of eggs and a pot full of chili in my refrigerator.

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