Friday, January 5, 2018

2018...the year of the Rat

Ah, the new year. A time for reflection, resolution and...rats.

It all started with a New Year's Eve trip to the movies. My neighbor Carrie and I thought this would be "fun." Because as we all know, taking 5 boys to the movies is the very essence of fun. We didn't buy tickets online, because clever mothers that we are, we thought we'd just go early to the theater to get the kid discount. And that is how we ended up with front row seats.

To be fair to our children, they mostly behaved, though my youngest felt it necessary to dance in front of the screen, which they frown upon at the Alamo Drafthouse. And by the end of the movie, all kids were getting a little restless, which is probably why one of their hats slipped to the ground, which is why Carrie knelt down to retrieve it, bumped her head on the arm rest and started out the day with a black eye. #Happynewyear

Then we couldn't find two of our boys, who thought hiding in the Star Wars photo booth in the lobby for 20 minutes was hilarious.

By comparison, January 1, seemed pretty calm ... at first. I woke up to the sound of my oldest son tiptoeing past the door to the office to play video games before his brother woke up. Because obviously, one greets the new year by playing Madden 18 just like EVERY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR.

By the time I'd made breakfast, both boys were battling over the PlayStation. So I decided this was the perfect time for my second annual traditional Polar Bear Plunge. I mean, it was 16 degrees outside, why wouldn't I jump in my swimming pool? Honestly, I thought it might distract my kids from killing each other, plus I'm a sucker for pseudo-sporting events that are really, really short in duration and involve minimal effort (Derby Day comes to mind).

I called Carrie to come over and witness my insanity, attempted to pick up the eviscerated remains of a couch cushion left by the dog, and yelled upstairs to the kids. They all opted to watch from indoors -- my oldest son waving at me from the office window, because clearly, Mom braving cold water was not worth walking down a flight of stairs. (This, from the same child who feels perfectly comfortable playing catch outside in shorts when it's 30 out, but hey, priorities).

With Carrie cheering me on, I walked into the pool... and yes, in case you're wondering, it was really @#$%%^ cold -- and then finally jumped in. For like a second. I said it was a plunge, not a swim -- insanity has its limits.

Twenty minutes later, I was in warm clothes, and Carrie and I were enjoying a post-plunge mimosa by the fire. Sure, I still couldn't feel my toes, but the Prosecco was helping...or at least helping me not to care about such trivialities as nerve endings. All was peaceful and bright. And then...

"Uh oh," Carrie said. "I think something might have broken."

I turned toward the dining room to see a massive spray of water pelting the window. My first thought was that a freak storm had just hit. My second thought was that hurricane season was over and I was an idiot, and the next few seconds unfolded like a certain Christmas poem.

When out the dining room window there arose such a clatter
I sprang (away from the Prosecco) to see what was the matter.
Away to the patio, I flew in a dash...
To get hit with freezing cold water in a mighty cold splash.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a leak in a pipe ...yep, happy new year.

I tried to stem the water flow, and only succeeded in getting soaked. Desperate, I threw the patio rug over the pipe, which at least stopped the hurricane from battering my dining room window...and created a nice, oozing flood in my backyard. Carrie phoned her husband, Blake, who gamely came over to investigate, despite being sick, and then turned off the water. Going against what I tell my kids nearly every day, I found myself shouting, "DON'T ANYONE FLUSH THE TOILET" while we investigated the now only-seeping leak.

We spotted the hole, and decided we'd try to patch it up. Then, just before he left to get some plumbing tape, Blake casually mentioned, "Oh, and you've got a dead rat right there."

Yep. A dead rat.


Now, if you know me at all, I don't need to explain the impact of those words and you'll understand completely why I shrieked, ran inside and cursed 2018. By this point, my sick husband Mike (was anyone NOT sick this holiday??) came downstairs and agreed to dispose of the rat. He went outside with a trash bag. Blake came back inside, muttering, "I think I'm gonna be sick" -- because when you're already ill, a juicy, bloated rat corpse is just icing on the cake. Mike was out there for a while, before coming back in for a shovel, which did not bode well. Carrie offered to hold the body bag at this point. She then mused whether the rat had been lying there in the open all along, or whether the geyser of water had shot it into the air. Because you know what's worse than a dead rat? #Ratnado.

Once the rat corpse was gone, I went out with the plumbing tape -- as though I had any idea what I was doing, while Carrie helped me cut it and then took a snapshot of our plumbing prowess. Because a friend will video you jumping into a cold pool. A really good friend will bag a rodent, help you wrap a pipe and take a plumbing selfie.

Two Chicks Plumbing - you bring the leak, we bring the Prosecco.

Of course, once the water was turned back on, the water still spurted, but not with the same raging-rapid intensity. And turns out there's this valve thing you can turn off, which only shuts off the water to the backyard. Or maybe just that pipe. Whatever. All I know, is days later when an actual handyman came out to fix the leak, it took him FOREVER (ok, 5 minutes) to cut the tape we had oh-so-carefully wrapped around the pipe. So yeah, not bragging or anything, but if you need a pipe taped...well, you know who to call.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty uneventful, because ... well, how do you top a leaking pipe and a dead rat? But once we finished our black-eyed peas for luck (you know what would be lucky? No rats in 2018), we did settle into blankets in the den to watch Best in Show. Because when you're wiped out after RatPipeCopalypse, you can "not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about."

So yeah, that's January so far. I'd like to think the rest of the month will be more peaceful, but I know better; Science Fair projects are due in 10 days.

May your 2018 be healthy and happy
May your pipes not explode
May your Prosecco be cold
And may your patio be rat-free


Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Tonight I took a taxi home from DFW. My driver was an exceptionally nice man from Rwanda.

We traded parenting woes. We talked about kids wanting phones or to be taken to Amazing Jakes or Main Event.

He was kind enough to indulge my broken French, as he explained that other customers often get mad when he is chatty...because he is constantly trying to improve his English.

He told me how blessed he felt to be here, to be an American citizen. He told me about explaining to his kids how lucky they were to attend school, when he couldn't afford it back home. He told me how lucky he felt because he could drive a taxi to make money. He told me how it was to eat only one meal a day. He told me about the refugee camps.

He told me that he wanted all of his children to serve in the U.S. military as gratitude for the country that had given him so much.

I hope we can all remember how much immigrants have given to this country. I hope we can all keep in mind that regardless of how we got here, whether legally or otherwise, virtually all of us are descendants of immigrants.

The statue of Liberty has some words to say in the subject. I hope we can all remember those.

We are better than the nonsense coming from the White House on the subject of immigration and DACA.
I hope we can remember that as well.

P.S. I promise my next post will be more entertaining than political. I'm far too vapid to sustain this level of deep thought for any length of time, so I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


For the most part, I keep politics off this blog. I prefer to annoy my friends on Facebook in that regard.
But sometimes, a few words are necessary.

Confederates fired on a U.S. fort.

Confederates seceded from our country.

Confederates were at war with the U.S.


Monuments to Confederate generals are not monuments to American heroes. They are statues glorifying people who fought against our country.

In many cases these monuments were erected decades after the war, while legislation such as the Day Law was instituted. The Day Law directly targeted my alma mater, Berea College, for educating black and white students together. Some of those monuments were built on or near grounds where slaves were sold.

My home town of Berea, KY, was founded on principles that those statues were built to disavow.

The removal of these statues is not revisionist history.

The only revisionist history is the statues themselves.

Astronomy Lesson

Things overheard while watching the Perseid meteor shower:

1. Can I borrow your phone to download an app to call coyotes?

2. Is that a rocket ship or an airplane? IT'S TOTALLY A ROCKET SHIP!

3. Did you see that one? No, you didn't! Yes I did!

4. If aliens abduct us, would they kill us right away?

5. Did you see that one? Where? Right there! Are you making this up?

6. Can we go fishing?

7. What's the Illuminati? (!)

8. Why didn't we bring the dog?

9. *If* I could call coyotes, do you think wolves would come, too?

10. Do wolves live in Texas?

11. OMG, did you see that one?

12. I'm itchy, are you?


14. Did you know I can teleport?

And finally...

15. Can we go home now?

And this is why I torment my children by waking them at 345 a.m. Because memories.

They'll thank me later.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Crowns & Cocktails: Miss Texas 2017

Carrie: Hey, Deirdre…
Me: What, Carrie?
Carrie: The Miss Texas pageant is next week.
Me: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Carrie: Do you think it would be as much fun the second time, or would the magic be gone?
Me: Hmm. Will there be batons?
Carrie: Of course.
Deirdre: And commemorative champagne flutes?
Carrie: I hope so!
Deirdre: I guess a dramatic reading of Gone With the Wind would be too much to ask for this time…
Carrie: Probably – I think that was a once-in-lifetime occurrence. But … I bet there’ll be puppets.
Me: I'M IN

And this is how it began, once again. #MissTexas2017 #Becausepuppets


Last year, my neighbor and I made our first trip to the Miss Texas pageant. Don’t judge; we’ve got five boys between the ages of 11 and 6 between us – who we love, obviously – but that’s a lot of socks and underwear left on the floor … or the front yard … or each other’s front yard. Even our dogs are male. And yes, the whole concept of a beauty pageant might seem a little weird given the times we live in … let’s just say we like our sequins with a healthy side of sarcasm.

This year, we toyed with hitting another competition. But after concluding the Lone Star Classic probably didn't sell commemorative glasssware, we bought tickets once again for Miss Texas. After an endless Saturday of "OMG MOM, he won't let me play Madden 17" or whatever nonsense they were yelling at us all day, escape arrived in the form of a Lyft driver. Who, it must be said, had lovely manners and only laughed at us once for taking a selfie in the car.

We had reservations for an actual grownup dinner (you know, the kind where nobody spits a straw wrapper at his brother or complains because the grilled cheese is made with real cheese) at Urbano Cafe. Of course, we started off with a proper toast. Because A) we are not philistines and B) pageant prep demands a sparkly pink drink

I'm not much of a restaurant reviewer, but that redfish freaking rocked.

As did Carrie's duck.

We finished with creme brulee, because the waiter, who up till this point had looked at us with the teensiest bit of disdain (fair enough, we were taking selfies with sparkling wine) told us it was so good he ate it for dinner. We figured if he was that amped up about a dessert, it was worth trying .. and we were right. Usually I think creme brulee tastes like carmelized suntan lotion, but this stuff was really good. "Maybe you should get a blowtorch," Carrie suggested. For half a second, I agreed. Till I realized my kids would just torch the kitchen. Ah, well.

Lest you think we only discussed kitchen appliances, there was a sweet-looking, very young couple at a nearby table, who appeared to be on a first date. So of course we had to speculate on a back story. Carrie decided they'd met at church, and she was probably a teacher. On the other hand, he was drinking a beer and she wasn't, so ... maybe not a profession that involved working with children. I wondered if they'd kiss after the date, but Carrie thought that might be moving just a wee bit too fast. Alas, we will never know, because Miss Texas beckoned.

When we stepped inside the Eisemann Center, we were at first ... underwhelmed. Last year, it was like the color pink had exploded as soon as we walked in the door. This year, we were a little early and the crowd seemed slightly more subdued. Don't worry; this lasted all of five seconds, until we found the first tiara-wearers milling around, and then, of course, had to take a selfie.

On closer look, I think the difference was that last year there was more glitter. This year there were more jump suits. Lots and lots of jumpsuits. Black, strapless, cut-out midriffs, all of them paired with skyscraper-height heels. A. When did heels get so high? I was wearing 4-inch sandals (because when will I learn?) and felt like I was in flats by comparison. B. The jumpsuits were kinda badass, in a 70s glam sort of way. (Note to self: totally need excuse to buy a jump suit).

(We are totally NOT stalking past contestants at all here)

Once we'd arrived and taken the obligatory photo with crowns in the background, we headed for the bar. Because nothing starts off your night like cocktails in a commemorative Miss Texas flute. "Do you have a special drink tonight?" Carrie asked. The bartender said sure and started pouring champagne and peach "essence" -- which sounded a bit more like something that belonged in bubble bath, but what do I know?

We toasted each other and took a sip. If you've ever wondered whether Hawaiian Punch and sparkling wine would make a good drink, let me end that speculation for you. It doesn't. We took a few more sips, though, because hello ... Miss Texas cocktail. Finally we had to admit we couldn't do it, Miss Texas, be damned. We took our glasses back to the bar, asked if we could possibly get them wrapped up and just ordered red wine instead. Which the bartender did without blinking an eye. I suspect we were not the first to "not quite finish" the concoction.

That's when we spotted the Lone Star Princesses ... aka, First Communion on crack. I kid, I kid. I'll keep my mouth zipped on this one, except to say my hats off to any ten-year-old who can put up with that much chiffon.

After our selfie with the LSPs (because yeah, we did that), the doors to the theater opened. We high-fived, and made our way down to our seats. I *may* have splashed a bit of red wine en route, because stairs + hideously uncomfortable shoes = gravity is not in my favor (again, when will I learn?)

We took our seats, imagining what talents we might see this year...

Would we be wowed by ventriloquism, musical talent, or ... dare we think there might be a new talent to eclipse last year's glow-in-the-dark 90-second painting of Elvis? The possibilities made us giddy. And finally, the lights went up, the music started and hello Miss Texas ...

The first to take the stage were previous winners, many of whom, I might add, were wearing... you guessed it; jump suits. We met our MC, another past Miss Texas (PMT) of course. The next hour was a blur of choreography and contestants.
In other words...
A lot.
Which was a hint of things to come, but more on that later.

Carrie and I had a very intense discussion about how they kept their legs and teeth so shiny. Spoiler alert; it's Vaseline. Which is both fascinating and disgusting.

Then Madonna's "Vogue" came on to kick off the swimsuit portion. Ahem, I'm sorry, the "lifestyle and fitness swimsuit competition." Because nothing screams "fitness" like contestants strutting down the runway, whipping off their wraps and parading around in a skimpy bikini. Fitness, my a**. (Or, more accurately, their a**es) This is when Carrie and I looked each other and at our empty wine glasses and decided, even if the pageant wasn't ready yet for intermission, we were.

We hit the bar for chocolate, because that is what we do when faced with body-shaming disguised as fitness.
Also because M&Ms and red wine pair beautifully.

"OMG Carrie, peanut M&Ms are SO GOOD!"

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied someone doing what appeared to be a dance routine on stage. "OMG it's the talent competition!" I shoved the rest of my M&Ms in my clutch and we ran (Ok, I hobbled. Because shoes) for our seats.

Joke was on us, though, because it wasn't the talent portion after all. It was Miss Texas Outstanding Teen.
Followed by a video tribute to the host city. (Shout out to Richardson! Look, it's wildflowers! Look it's a DART train! Look, it's technical-looking people wearing lab coats and hairnets...wait, what? What tech corridor job requires hairnets? Is that even a thing?)
Then the mayor.
Then the evening gowns. Lot of trains this year. And capes, which I kind of love. Because to me, capes suggest that sure, you *might* be a pageant contestant...or you might be hiding superhero powers, and bound off the stage with a sword.

OK, nobody did that -- but I like to think it was a possibility.

After evening gowns, we met the Outstanding Teen (OT) whose platform was about smiles. I am not going to say anything snarky about this, because I mean, come on -- she's a kid. Which means she can have a platform about smiles if she damn well wants to.

At this point, you might be wondering when the hell intermission was.
Or the talent competition.

Instead we got a triple play of PMTs performing their winning talents. There was a tap dancing PMT, wearing a jump suit, because of course she was. Another PMT fiddled (pretty good job, btw), and finally a singing PMT. Surely talent must be next?

Nope. Eliminations. Followed by a pretty killer baton routine from last year's Miss Texas. I still don't understand how she did that thing with her neck and shoulders. FINALLY this year's talent began. Which was...

Lyrical Dance.

More Lyrical Dance.

Lyrical Dance with gymnastics.

PUPPETS! Not just any puppets, but SINGING puppets! Carrie and I high-fived as only women who've watched too much lyrical dance can do. Miss Midland-Odessa, I salute your ventriloquism.

Singing -- something stirring about a battle, with a name I can't spell.

...And more Lyrical Dance.

I don't know who put the word out this year on pageant trends, but I liked the jump suits a lot more than the lyrical dance. Don't get me wrong; they were talented and athletic and obviously put a lot of thought into their choices, but ... if I'm gonna watch that much dance, there better be sugar plum fairies and nutcrackers involved.

The two standouts (apart from puppets, obviously) for me were:
- Miss San Antonio, who sang John Lennon's "Imagine" and played the guitar ... and did I mention she was hearing-impaired? Yeah. She pretty much rocked it.
- Also Miss Park Cities, who clogged. Which I had to admire not only because I'm from KY, where I know people who actually do that but also because -- in a sea of lyrical dancers, be a clogger.

After the talent ended .. 2 hours in, by the way ... that's when they called intermission. Two hours is a looooong time to sit through dance routines. Glass half full, perhaps it's good I am unlikely to ever be a dance mom, since this is clearly not my calling. Glass half empty?

When intermission ended, there was a final elimination and then the interview portion began. I *might* have whispered to Carrie, "If somebody says anything good about Trump, I'm totally booing." I was kidding, of course. I do not boo; that's tacky and I was raised right. Also? You don't get to the Miss Texas finals without learning how to deftly dodge an interview question, even when the topics included hate crime, jail penalties for adolescents, the 1st amendment, war and equality.

Miss Park Cities nailed the question about equality by saying we should all pay attention to how we treat each other. Ahem. Just gonna leave that right there.
The interviewer, PMT 1992 (shout out to the year I graduated college!), wore a fabulous off-the-shoulder jumpsuit.

There were some other awards given out -- Miss San Antonio won the Quality of Life award, Miss Dallas won Community Service and Miss Allen won the Miracle Maker award. Which ... I have no idea what that meant, but it did come with a plaque.

Miss Texas 2016 had a final video tribute, where we learned she skinned a rattlesnake on Facebook. Wonder if she hit it first with her baton.

Then finally, THREE HOURS IN, the crowning. And the winner is...

4th Runner Up: Miss San Antonio
3rd Runner Up: Miss Park Cities
2nd Runner Up: Miss Plano
1st Runner Up: Miss Midland-Odessa (#becausepuppets)
Winner: Miss Travis County, who was immediately mobbed by the other contestants, all of whom (except the 5 finalists) were wearing red. Which, on second watching, was very Handmaids Tale-esque. Irony, thy name is Miss Texas.

Last year we ended the evening with a post-show drink at the Renaissance, which we skipped this time around, because #tootired and #winesleepy. Also #toomuchlyricaldance and #notenoughbatons.

But ... there's always next year. And this time, we may be bringing a crowd. Carrie posted a few pics from the pageant on FB and seems we've got enough friends interested to fill an entire row of seats.

Of course, I already know what I'm wearing in 2018.

A jump suit.

Tickets: $80
Commemorative flutes filled with sickly sweet cocktail: $14
Finding M&Ms in my purse the morning after: priceless


Friday, December 23, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Ratmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

The creatures were stirring – dear God, please, not a mouse.

The children were nestled … in my bed, stealing the covers.

Because uninterrupted sleep? Yeah right, I’m a mother.

When from somewhere below, I heard a strange sound.

Like something was dragging and scratching the ground.

A ghost? Or a burglar? Maybe Santa was near?

But deep down, I had a more hideous fear.

I crept down the stairs to see what was the matter,

As a body slammed into the hearth with a clatter.

When his tail hit the floor with a sickening splat,

I knew in a moment – it must be St. Rat.

He was hairy and gray, a nasty old gent.

But what else do you expect from a giant rodent?

His claws, how they glistened, his teeth were quite shocking.

And he spied me, as he flung bits of trash in our stockings.

“Hey Deirdre,” he hissed, his voice scratchy and low,

“Glad we've met – you’re big in the rat world, you know.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed the attention,” I sighed with a groan.

“What can I say, we can’t leave you alone.”

“But you ate my car's wiring, I had to buy new.”

“Oh, we feasted like kings on your Subaru.”

“I tried mothballs, I called Geico -- you don't know what it took!”

“Yes we read all about it...from your posts on Facebook.”

Defeated, I looked St Rat right in the eye.

And was tempted, I’ll admit, to sit down and cry.

“We’re rats, D,” he said. “Wreck and ruin’s what we do.

But there’s nobody we like messing with more than you."

And here’s where my revulsion dwindled to almost affection,

I asked, “St Rat, did you by chance rig the election?”

He spoke not a word, but gave me a wink.

“We once wiped out Europe… what do you think?”

Then, extending his paw, he said, “I want to be friends.”

And shook my hand (as I wondered if the world was at end).

"Just remember," he urged, "next time all hope is fallen,"

"Ignore those sounds in the walls -- watch a movie with Colin."

Then he squealed to the air, “Come rats and come mice,

Let’s leave her alone, boys, it’s time to be nice.”

And as he rose up the chimney and into the sky,

He called, “Merry Christmas to all – and yes, rats really can fly!”

Friday, December 16, 2016

All I want for Christmas is ten minutes

Dear Santa,

It's that time again. You know. When good intentions turn quickly into panic as I can't remember what I did with those @#$$ football-printed sheets I bought for Luke over Thanksgiving. I'd like to say something lovely about peace and love and goodwill toward man, but we both know better. I mean, between the puppy and the election, I was already screwed. And then came The Elf. Here's a thought -- next year, how 'bout the Elf and me trade gigs? I'd gladly sit on a shelf for a month, hang out, wait for people to move me in adorable, ironically whimsical locations inspired by Pinterest and wine. #momonthemantel #boxwineonashelf #theelfdrinksincarpool

No? In that case, there is one thing you could get me. The ten minutes back that somebody shaved off the start time for school. I don't know if you heard, Santa, but this year, they changed it -- and making it to school by 7:50 instead of 8 is KILLING US. Really. I realize ten minutes should not make such a difference, but Santa, it does, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

I know this is a big ask. So, to help make my case, I've put together a little snapshot of my morning schedule. I think it might help explain why those ten minutes are so important to me ... and pretty much every other parent I know.

Here's how my morning goes:

4:30 am: First alarm goes off. Hit dismiss.

4:45 am: Second alarm goes off. Hit dismiss. Have internal argument over gym vs walking the dog. If walking, can sleep in till 5:15. Except won't. And will instead sleep till 5:30 and then decide screw it, and skip exercise altogether.

4:50 am: Cursing, drag self out of bed. Get dressed, hopefully remembering to remove night mouthguard before leaving (TMJ is sooo sexy).

5:00 am: Start to pull out of garage.

5:01 am: Realize have forgotten towel. Stop car. Run back in house. Because getting out of the pool with no towel during winter? Hells no.

5:11 am: Walk into gym. See that three out of four pool lanes are already occupied. Practically fling off clothing while running into locker room in attempt to score last lane. Make it. Phew. #winning. Except. OMG THIS WATER IS FREEZING.

5:12 - 5:40: Contemplate all of life's problems while swimming laps. Solve none of them. Try to take mind off fact am still FREEZING by pretending am in awesome winter spa somewhere and that a dip in a hot tub and a mimosa awaits me. Doesn't work. As last-ditch effort, imagine am meeting Colin Farrell. Only not in stupid lap swimming suit. Obviously. Would be wearing something infinitely more flattering and fabulous. Look at clock because have been so occupied envisioning the outfit one would wear to a totally ridiculous imaginary meeting that will never take place, have lost track of time. Realize that if I get out in next 5 minutes, could have enough time to dip in jacuzzi really quickly. Except. Pool guy walks in. Dumps chemicals in jacuzzi. There goes the hot tub. Then begins skimming pool. Really? Imagine texting boss, "Hi, can't come to work today, have concussion from pool skimmer."

5:41: Get out of pool, conceding defeat. You win this time, pool guy.

5:55: Get home, turn on coffee maker, let out dog, feed dog while attempting not to get licked, scratched or otherwise molested by family pet.

5:58: Unable to wait for coffee maker to stop, pour quick cup, spilling half of it on counter. Imagine sitting on couch to drink. Ha. No.

6:00: The "omg I overslept" alarm goes off. Be grateful that today is not one of those days. Pour juice and milk. Bring milk to Child #2 huddled under afghan in den. Child attempts to engage in discussion of legendary Pokemon, then asks where the Elf is. OMG THE ELF!!!!!!!!!!! Distract by promising to make breakfast after shower, back quickly out of room, close door and find where you put Elf last. Try to come up with some clever pose. Fail. Prop Elf on top of bourbon bottle. Again. The Elf likes his Knob Creek.

6:05: Bring juice to Child #1 who is playing video game in the office. Child attempts to simulate symptoms of Ebola/tuberculosis and says he cannot possibly go to school. Do not engage, as this will only end in "you don't care about me because you are the WORST MOM EVER" conversation. Smile. Promise breakfast after shower. Child asks for Golden Chik for breakfast, which is not even remotely possible at this point. Say no. He hates you now. It's official.

6:10: Shower. Almost trip over matchbox cars lined up in shower. Because of course there are matchbox cars in your shower. Duh. Move tiny metal death traps to ledge, where they will probably fall on toe. With luck, the toe that appears to have sustained a stress fracture due to last June's half marathon. Because that is what happens when you do a half marathon without training, and who has time for that?

6:12: Remember have forgotten to buy more conditioner. Again.

6:25: Get dressed to the tune of incessant barking by the dog, who is not happy to be outside right at this moment. Remember there are bobcats in the neighborhood who eat family pets. But apparently not at your house, where rats eat cars and dogs eat the back yard. Sigh. Slap on mascara in attempt to look awake.

6:30: Breakfast. Child #1 wants a bagel with cream cheese. Which would be great. Except. Forgot to buy bagels. Offer English muffin instead. Fine, child sighs, as though you offered chopped liver. Run downstairs to pop muffin in toaster, then ask Child #2 in den same question. Bacon. Which is actually in fridge. Microwave bacon while smearing cream cheese on muffin.

6:45: Dog goes berserk, flinging self against patio door. Apologize to dog, but at this point, you'd have to be suicidal, masochistic or both to let dog in while bacon is cooking. Deliver breakfast to Child #2 in den, closing door to establish bacon barrier between child and dog, in case he gets in. Dilemma: let dog in and put in crate. Which seems cruel, but will allow you to finish getting ready and children to eat their food. Or, let dog in and don't put in crate, which seems nicer but will require mad dash to ensure all doors closed and breakfast secured. Pick the crate. Apologize to dog again. Deliver breakfast to Child #1 in office.

6:50: Warn Child #1 he'd better get dressed and no, you don't mean the same shirt he wore yesterday and yes, it is too cold for shorts... oh fine, just not shorts he wore yesterday or retrieved from dirty clothes hamper. He claims he has no clean clothes. Which is not strictly speaking, the truth. There are clean clothes, but no magical laundry fairy has transported them from the dryer to his drawers.

6:55: Warn Child #2 same thing. He claims not to have any pants that fit, because if they are long enough to fit his legs, they are too big in the waist and fall down. This is actually the truth. Point out they might fit better if, say, he wore underwear.

6:58: Warn everyone in vague shout that you are about to dry hair, please be ready and please, please, please -- DO NOT FIGHT.

7:12: Finish hair to the tune of loud screaming from office, where Child #2 has joined Child #1 and a massive fight (quel surpris!) has broken out because Child #2 is "not making good plays" in Madden 17.

7:15: Yell that you are leaving in ten minutes with or without them. Go downstairs, load up backpacks with lunches and water bottles. No sign of life from upstairs. Yell again. And again. March back upstairs and threaten that this time you really mean it. Child #2 stirs and races to room for last-minute wardrobe change. Child #1 is unmoved at first, then asks how can you be so mean to make him go to school when he is clearly sick. "DO YOU EVEN CARE MOM?" Tell him you care about his brain and his use of it, so yes, in fact you do care. And you can discuss this more in the car. He says "you're just going to make me go to school." Yes, son. Yes I am. Change topic by asking if he has seen the Elf yet this morning. "I don't care about the stupid Elf. He's not even real Mom, he has a COPYRIGHT." Explain to your son that of course he does because the other elves who made him copyrighted him. What are you even saying? Realize you are just trapping yourself further in a web of lies and tell him you're leaving in 10 minutes and go downstairs

7:20: Agree to help Child #2 find the Elf if he will put on shoes.

7:22: "Mom, why is the Elf always sitting on that bottle?"

7:25 Holler at Child #1 who finally comes down, still dressed in yesterday's shirt. Give up. Tell him to put on shoes. Which of course he can't find.

7:27: Mad dash through entire house. Find Child #1's shoes in Child #2's room. Throw them at Child #1, while shouting, "Everyone into the car!"

7:29: Realize you are still wearing house shoes.

7:30 Shoo children into car, run back into house, race upstairs and into closet, shove on shoes, run back down, go through garage. Child #2 is in car with seatbelt on. Child #1 is shooting baskets. Screech something you shouldn't repeat.

7:34: Once everyone is finally in car with seatbelts, back out of garage in splendid 45 point turn because by now all hope of calm is completely shot and you're lucky not to hit the retaining wall. Child #1, once captive in car, announces that he hates how he looks. Tell him he looks fine. He insists he looks dumb. Child #2 pipes up with, "actually he's right, he does look dumb." Tell Child #2 that isn't very nice and tell Child #1 that "actually, you look a lot like me."

"Exactly," he says.

7:36: Turn up radio.

7:40: Referee an argument over who the better soccer player is: Neymar or Messi. Doesn't matter what you say; you're wrong. Turn radio up a little more.

7:44: Both children ask if you can pick them up from school... you can't. They then ask if you can tell dad to pick them up "early." Ask if there is a test today. Child #1 denies this, instead bringing up Ebola/TB symptoms. And "how can you make me go to school, Mom, I'm sick! I'm going to make everyone sick? DON'T YOU EVEN CARE ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE AT SCHOOL, MOM?" Child #2 just says school is boring. (At this point, you begin to think "boring" sounds like a spa day compared to this insanity)

7:46: Arrive at school

7:47: Child #2 exits vehicle.

7:49: Child #1 slooooooowly gets out of car, casting backward, sullen glare that shoots guilt daggers into your tiny "worst mom ever" heart.

7:50: Final tardy bell rings. Resist temptation to lay head on steering wheel. Instead, paint your nails in the school parking lot.

7:53: Pull out of school zone. Drive to work. And breathe.

So you see, Santa... those ten minutes could make a difference. I could maybe have a couple extra minutes to actually hug one of my kids before practically tossing them from the car. Maybe I'd yell a little less. Maybe we'd have more time to find shoes. Maybe I'd remember to change mine.

I know it's pretty unlikely that you could grant me this wish. And I get that it's pretty low on the priority list. You know, the kids and all. But thanks anyway, Santa, for listening. Good luck next weekend. And just in case you get a little thirsty, I'll leave some bourbon out for you.

After all, the Elf sure seems to like it.