Guaranteed Leftovers

In the endless quest to create memorable from the mundane, we changed up our breakfast routine since the school day was on a 90-minute delay. Because it was something like -87 degrees outside.

We would go to the grocery store, everybody could pick out their own breakfast item from the bakery, and then we would have varieties of steamed liquid chocolate at the Starbucks inside the store.

Plus, I had nothing for lunches and I was out of all kids’ meds, so you know… that whole two birds with one stone thing. Lunchables anyone? Children’s Motrin? And oh, look! Donuts!

While Tyler and I went to the pharmacy department, Tuck went to the bakery. He wanted to surprise us with a fun variety. I reminded him to use the tissue papers, don’t touch any donuts with his fingers, and ask for help if he needed it. When I met him at the bakery, he was packing donuts into his second box.

Second box.

“Tuck! Woah! What’s happening here?”

“I wanted to surprise you.”

“How many donuts did you get?”


“Lovey, how many of us are there?”

“There are three of us, but I wanted us to have leftovers.”

(God, please give us all the self discipline to guarantee leftovers with a ratio of 8 donuts per person.)

“It’s too much, buddy. It’s too many.” And yet, what can I do? Tissue paper or not, these dozens of donuts had been man-handled.  I would now be buying them.

“I’m sorry, Mommy. I just really wanted to surprise you.”

“Well, thank you, Tuck. I am for sure surprised.”

My instructions weren’t literal enough. Not enough details. Perameters. Limitations. An amateur mistake.

And so, as a surprise to us all, we treated the elementary faculty and staff to a treasury of donuts this morning.

Surprise. (!!)

Let’s Call Her “The Dentist.”

There are certain regular exams we undergo: teeth cleanings, physicals, eye checks. There are some appointments that we girls have to make, some things that need to be investigated to make sure that all things feminine are in order, on a routine cycle, and free of lumps and bumps.

In the nature of keeping this blog post rated for general audiences, we’ll say I went to ‘the dentist.’

My ‘Dentist’ and her nurse go way, way back with me. Back to the days of my skeletal self sitting on the table, begging for anything that would just get me to sleep at night. We’ve been down a long road together.  They’ve been taking excellent care of me for years, and I adore them.

And those sweet girls read everything I write. Everything. I think they would tell you more about me than I could, really.

So we go through the list of standard questions:

“Are you sleeping well? Because I see you posting on Facebook in the middle of the night… how is the insomnia?”

“Of course I know you don’t smoke. Do you drink alcohol? No? Because you mention wine fairly frequently on the blog!” (Insert laughter since we all know I’m a lightweight.)

“How is your diet? From reading the blog, I’m not sure it’s so good…”

“Do pets sleep in your room? Where does Murphy sleep?”

The thing is, yes, I write all these things, I post them for the world to read, and then I forget them. I toss my meanderings into the great void, forgetting that someone else is holding the other end of this tin can on a string. You’re reading what I say.
You are hardly a faceless community, and sometimes I bump into you and find myself. You tell me what I’ve been thinking, what I’ve said, what it has meant to you, who it has impacted who’s talking about it… and suddenly, I think, wait. It’s like we’ve had this conversation, and yet I’m pretty sure I was alone in my jammies when I processed those things.

Oh, right. Bloggety blog. The pages of my soul.

And so, then, it was time for the internal part of the ‘dental exam.’ Checking the gums and tonsils for an abnormalities, if you will. And while I lay there indisposed, really kind of unable to complete sentences, and definitely just wanting to pretend this part is over, the dialogue continued.

Not the impersonal, “Say, how ’bout them Broncos at the SuperBowl. Real heartbreaker, ‘eh?”

No. It was, “How are Tucker’s stitches? That sweet boy, if anyone anywhere ever is stingy with the lidocaine, they’ll have to deal with me. I love the pictures you posted of your summer vacation when Robb was alive – the Alpine Slide! Oh, how fun!”

And then, “Oh, wait. You know what? I don’t think we need to do that test where I reach into the back of your throat and take some cells for further testing… because we did that test two years ago, and nobody has been inside your mouth in the last two years, right?”

(clearing throat.) “Right.”

And that’s when I realized that all of this has gone into a realm. When we’re discussing book signings and appearances while I’m getting a pelvic – I mean dental! – exam.

From this day foreward, these conversations can happen anywhere, any time.

There are dog owners, and then there are Pet Parents.

Murphy (the pooping puppy formerly known as Max) stayed at a Pet Hotel recently while I traveled to a place where even the best dogs cannot go.

Well, maybe the best dogs do get to go. Maybe the question is about the decency of said pet’s owner. Oh, I’m sorry: Pet Parent. I keep forgetting that some people think Murphy and I are blood-related.

This is the PawGress Report I received when I picked up Murphy, from his ‘suite’ in room 302.

a. Gobbled it Down.
b. There were some leftovers.
c. Eager for a meal at home.

a. Chowed Down
b. Enjoyed a bit.
c. Too full to eat.

a. Party Animal.
b. Getting to know new friends.
c. Not feeling sociable.

a. Lights out, sweet dreams.
b. Rested comfortably.
c. A little restless.

a. Took care of business.
b. Took a little coaxing.
c. Make sure things get back to normal at home.

a. Carefree, calm and comfy.
b. Had a pleasant stay.
c. Missed you.

“Murphy loves to watch people go by, and he loves snuggles! He’s very friendly and loves to run around the playroom on walks!”

Well… great! So glad my party animal had sweet dreams and took care of business! Way to go, MurphyPurphy!

And, so, we’re all clear on this one thing, though, right?

He’s a Dog.

Neither Pam Beasley nor Queen Latifah

I came to terms with the fact that I needed to hire an assistant. And that sentence still feels so strange in my head and at the tips of my fingers.

An assistant? What kind of assistant? Are we talking Pam Beasley from The Office? Or more like Queen Latifah from Stranger Than Fiction? And who am I to think I need an assistant?

Well, if you’ve been recently waiting for me to fulfill some seemingly small request, then you might be a person to wildly wave your arms and say, “I do. I do, Tricia. I am one to think you need an assistant.”

I realized that having an assistant isn’t a matter of pride, but rather a matter of humility. It isn’t about tossing around the words “have your people call my people” and making sure someone in the world knows how I like my coffee, at what temperature, time, and color.

No, it’s actually about coming to terms with the honest truth: this endeavor has become bigger than me. Administrative tasks and appointments, contacts and contracts, hotel reservations and airlines tickets – these and many of their cousins are piling up all around me.

This, in itself, is altogether awesome because there’s a strong admin streak in me that loves to make a list, cross things off, connect the dots, and make the details come together flawlessly.

(Please don’t laugh. It’s true. I used to make a living at this. Until I abandoned it all to teach America’s future how to read.)

The problem right now, though, is that administrative tasks are not my job – writing is my job. And I haven’t been able to do the things only I can do because I’ve been distracted and overloaded doing the things that I can hire someone else to do.

This morning, I interviewed my leading candidate, and while she and I talked shop at my dining table, Tucker offered himself as our (shirtless) barista, making Keurig coffee for each of us, serving cream on the side, muffins with forks, and randomly a jar of chocolate almonds. He called us “you girls.” As in, “Would you girls care for anything else this morning?”

I didn’t ask him to step into this role as server/barista/butler, but I have perhaps never found him more charming.

Ashley was charmed as well: I offered her the job, and she said y-e-s. And with those three letters, that one simple word, I’m already breathing easier. Someone else is thinking with me.

“Let me run these details past my assistant.”
“I’ll forward this email to my assistant.”
“My assistant knows all about that – she’s running that event.”

(I’m practicing.)

Because, my friends, Ashley is on. the. job.

The Maiden Voyage of the Soft Start

Drum roll, please.

Our school hast implemented a Soft Start. This means families can arrive anywhere between 8:25-8:40, and children proceed to their classrooms to start the day gently and calmly. Rather than lining up outside, letting cars line up like the McDonald’s drive thru during the free McRib special, all to bring 500 kids into the building in a 5-minute time span.

It all just so brilliant that I wonder why we haven’t been doing this all along.  So we started the morning today with plans to leave at 8:20, allowing us a full 20 minute cushion for unexpected happenings.

I’ve declared a war on technology for 2014: none before school in the morning. All the supermoms are saying, “Well, yes of course, no technology in the mornings. TV and handheld video games wouldn’t mix well with the balanced breakfast of organic granola and protein.”

Even though I am not supermom, I recognize the inherent mistake in allowing their brains to slip into the vortex of the screen when we are on a time limit. So, starting today, no games before school. (I’ll tackle the after-school-do-your-homework-finish-your-dinner battle later today, I’m sure.)

I was prepared for a full on battle, and the morning did not disappoint. One child has lost his gaming system for the forseeable future, because it turns out, obedience means not arguing for the next 25 minutes about whether or not it’s fair for him to ‘just hold the case’ when he has no intention of playing the games before school. Right. Let’s not kid ourselves. Said gaming system will remain in visible storage until the new regime deems appropriate.

I made hot chocolate. Extra marshmallows. I gave them red velvet muffins for breakfast. I packed lunches. Complete with fruits, vegetables, peanut butter sandwich (cut into a star), and snacks for mid-learning breaks.

We could only find one shoe and 3 boots.

Murphy pooped on the floor. Murphy ate the poop. (I will never understand this.) Tucker gagged when Murphy licked him with his poop breath (this I can understand), and Tuck threw up red velvet cupcake onto my decorative pillows in the family room.
We talked about the difference between a gag reflex and the flu, and I let him know this small eruption did not in fact deem him contagious and he would hereto and hitherfore go to school.

Murphy peed on one child’s coat, which led me to recall the three dogs I have repurposed in new homes, and why I made those decisions. It is 7 degrees out, and my son’s coat is sprinkled with dog pee. And now, in addition to boots and shoes, we are in search of layers to pile on to my son, since even this mom (though she did consider it) would never, ever send her son to school in a coat that has been peed on.

I had now asked Tyler to put his shoes on, no less than 47 times. He was instead foraging through the refrigerator for Gogurts.

Tucker had gone out to the car, and I considered myself 1 for 2, so when he appeared inside I felt a sense of epic failure and snapped at him for appearing before me. He said, “I was just going to tell you that I’m going to take out the trash cans.” Yes, thank you, lovey. I’m sorry for yelling at you. And trash cans go out on Thursday night, not Monday morning. But thank you for being thorough.

I opened the door to bring us all outside in one fell swoop, and Murphy slipped between our feet and through the garage and out into the driveway, which he does everyday, because he believes he is in control over whether or not he will ride along in the morning to take his boys to school. He is not in charge, and yet here I was, chasing a dog who’s doing laps around the car, in, around and under. It does seem like he’s maybe a ittle bit in charge.

I barked at Tyler for not being in the car. This startled him and he dropped his backpack in a puddle. I closed the car door before he was ready, and he dropped his backpack in a puddle. Awesome. I threw Murphy into the laundry room. I got a text from my checking account telling me my balance, which is fine but could use some replenishing and I’ll take care of that just please not right this minute.

We began the drive to school. We prayed for teachers and friends and leadership and the opportunities to serve others. And one child started to cry because he’s not sure if he should obey the teacher or serve others, so I clarified that obeying the teacher IS serving others. Trust me, kiddo. I was a teacher. When you follow directions, you’re helping her out in crazy, important ways.

And then we happened onto the intersection of all intersections, the precipice of whether or not we will turn left and move onward, Christian soliders. I waited for seven minutes to turn left. Seven minutes. I kid you not: I was timing it all.

I can only imagine the maiden voyage of the Soft Start was a tremendous success, as the sidewalks and parking lot were clear by the time we arrived.

At 8:57.

Happy Monday and Happy New Year, my friends. We are off to a soaring start.