The following chain of events has occurred in the past 2 hours:
We shove dinner down our gullets as quickly as possible in order to make it to a "Couples' Fireside" at church.
We send the kids down the church hallway in the direction of the nursery, assuming they will find the way.
After the fireside, Mike has to rush to a meeting for scouts, so he gets a ride with a friend and I lug the kids to the car, during which time Hazel points out that the nursery "smells like women's feet." Her keen awareness of woman foot smell is, to me, a loss of innocence. Pretty soon she'll be having to put deodorant on the bottoms of her feet before she puts on her sandals, too.
We get in the car, only to realize that I don't have the car keys. It's snowing. It's freezing.
We really have no choice but to walk home from church. It's only a few blocks, but entirely uphill and there is a thick sheet of ice covering most of the sidewalk.
I hobble along as best as I can in my maxi dress and 3 inch suede wedges, holding a 30 pound two-year-old in one arm, my purse in the other.
Holden has to actually hold my hand and prop me up so I don't fall down on the ice. "This is what you'll have to do for me all the time when I get old," I tell him. He responds "I'm only 9 years old, and already I am escorting my mother home." I take his arm and Hazel holds my other hand, Ruby meanders in and out of snow drifts behind us.
Hazel runs ahead to scope out the ice situation. One hoot for ice, two hoots for no ice. Holden sticks his face into the fresh snow and takes big, indulgent bites. A small dog barks and barks at us. Ruby yells "get back!" I encourage Holden not to eat snow near the dog's yard. We find a single black sock on the sidewalk.
Hazel informs me that she has to use the bathroom really bad. A truck waits for us at a stop sign; I scoop Ruby into my arms and walk as fast as I can across the road while she kicks and flails and screams into my ear. My only thought is "please don't get my dress dirty."
We arrive home just in time for Hazel to wet her pants. It has gone all the way down her footed fleece polar bear pajamas and into her fur-lined ugg boots. Anyone know how to get urine out of fur-lined ugg boots?
"Do you know what it feels like to have an accident, Mom?" Hazel asks. I remember the last time I had an accident quite clearly: it was yesterday when I coughed really hard while I was shoveling snow off our deck. I tell her, "I have an accident every time I sneeze." She thinks this is the most hilarious thing she has ever heard. At least she is still innocent in that regard.
We get her into the tub for the second time today, and Ruby immediately wants to take part in the bath. Both girls scream and laugh in the tub while I clean up the dinner dishes left on the table, my toes burning as they defrost from our icy walk.
In an astonishing break from the norm, Holden asks "what can I do to help?" My mind is blank. This is my one moment of unsolicited help from him and all I can ask him to do is get his pajamas on.
He returns in 30 seconds, wearing only his underwear.
Hoping to get more mileage out of the opportunity, I ask him to help the girls out of the tub. Holden enters the bathroom, and moments later I hear him yell "Awww, man! Now my underwear are all wet!" I take note of the cute use of the plural to describe his underwear.
He changes into his blue, grey, and black striped undies and I have to lay down the law with Hazel about not splashing water on people's underwear.
There is another incident with an electric toothbrush and Holden's underwear, which leaves Hazel with this ultimatum: either stop touching underwear, or no movies for a week!
Ruby says "I wanna wock, okay?" in a commanding voice. I take her to the chair and rock her, but as soon as we get a good rhythm going, she says "I want Holdie, okay?" and gets down to play in the nylon Playhut tunnel with Holden.
We pray. We tuck in. Holden asks Ruby over and over "will you be warm enough?"
Ruby requests the following: fruit snacks, cheese, crackers, juice, and cookies. Since when did bed time become snack time and since when did I become something like a stewardess in the eyes of my children? I guess part of my job is to make their flight in life as comfortable as possible. Hazel just requests "anything" as she is unused to the level of spoiling I do with Ruby (e.g. you want a little creme brulee in order to stay in your bed? No problem! Whatever it takes.)
Finally, the girls are asleep and Holden is lying in his bed downstairs, waiting for me to tuck him in. When Mike returns, I'll ask him to walk back to the church to pick up the Jeep and don't go thinking I won't milk this night for all it's worth. I won't be taking any high roads, here!
In the morning I will wake up much earlier than I really want to, stumble into the kitchen, and begin taking drink orders.