Family Zone - It Just So Happens
by Cheryl Butler
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Mama's Going to Denver
© Cheryl Butler
With the soothing background sounds of barking, bickering and the alphabet being burped to rap tunes by my two oldest sons, I swiftly hit the "Enter" key and it was finally a done deal--I was going to Denver-ALONE! No, this isn't one of those all expense paid executive business trips like the ones my husband takes on a regular basis or a trip to nurse my great aunt Phoebe who just had a hip replacement. This, my friends, is an all-out indulgent getaway to visit one of my dearest friends who happens to live more than half-way across the country, therefore making it near impossible for my children, husband and dog to have any physical contact with me for nearly a week. I quiver at the thought!
I met Amy 16 years ago, the day after our oldest daughter was born. We were in the NICU getting to know our new baby, only one short week after our adoption agency phoned to say a birthmother had chosen us. Not only did I finally become a mother, I also gained a wonderful friend, one who had just delivered triplets in her spare time.
We've been close pals ever since so when my gracious husband suggested I check into the summer-saver airfare deals that were being advertised, I took the liberty of striking while the iron was hot. I later found out he was buttering me up to take a golf vacation with the guys, but when my Flight #2261 is taxiing down the runway and that precious flight attendant asks me what I'd like to drink-ask me if I care!
Yep, Mama's going to Denver--ALONE. Of course, that does come with a wee little price. It's wishful thinking that I can simply pack my suitcase in a carefree instant, kiss my husband and kids good-bye and skip all the way to the departure gate. There are a few minor details to handle prior to take-off.
Let's see-I will be running away, I mean leaving for a short visit, just days after school begins so with that in mind I must do the following to alleviate any extra burden on my wonderfully considerate and very hardworking husband.
- Make sure all 40-some beginning-of-school year forms are completed and returned. (That task could scar him for life!)
- Count out five days of lunch and milk money ahead times seven, and place in marked envelopes with said child's name and day of week
- Leave master calendar with all PE classes, library and band days. (He'll thank me for not having to haul the trumpet down to school after the bus is long gone.)
- Review my system for setting kitchen timer in 20 minute intervals each morning so children will not miss any of three buses and will also allow him ample time to get to nursery school on time. Remind him he will only have 1 hour 7 minutes in between drop off and pick up.
- Make sure all eight children have enough clean underwear for the duration and specifically label who wears boxers and which character briefs and that the Dora the Explorer panties do not belong to our teenaged daughters.
- Speaking of garments-the four teens are on their own. As for the remaining four-make sure five days of outfits are set aside, named accordingly for each child with two extra per child in case of emergency-better include his too.
- Food shopping and meal preparation should include stocking all favorite cereals (remove toy prizes to avoid fights-or, not). Pre-pack 8 snacks times five days along with juice boxes of choice-hide in extra suitcase where bottomless pits will not think to find them. (Hope husband can find them). Stock freezer with decent meals so they won't be eating Cocoa Puffs or Ramen noodles every night.
- Reschedule all orthodontic appointments. With four kids in braces or retainers, don't want to push him over the edge.
- Leave explicit directions in laundry room that American Eagle and Abercrombie T-s cannot be placed in dryer. He'd keel over if these $40 babies shrunk and had to be replaced.
- Call in favors from friends to help transport young ones to bowling, skating and laser tag birthday parties that are all scheduled for same day and time.
- Clean out fridge day before leaving. Returning to rancid leftover tuna salad and slimy zucchini just wouldn't be fair-to me.
- Place new batteries in all TV remotes, and label which chargers go to which kid's Nintendo DSs, cell phones and iPods.
- Leave his mother's phone # with gentle reminder to call on Sunday.
- Hide all K'nex and Leggo kits. These require adult supervision-and I'll be gone. (Sorry honey!)
- Leave subtle hints around house for the new laptop I'd just love to have for our 22nd Anniversary the week after I return. I'm so beyond diamonds.
- Be sure to triple stock toilet paper in all of the bathrooms. Out of sight, out of mind is what frightens me here.
- Shop ahead for all travel items he will need to take on his golf vacation. Would hate to burden him with details for his own getaway.
- Find cleaning lady brave enough to come in the day before I return-just to spiffy the bathrooms.
- Lastly, lighten up Cheryl! Hard as it is to imagine, they will be just fine without you for one little week. Sigh.
Still worth it you ask? Taking care of a few incidentals beforehand so I can go visit one of my dearest friends in beautiful Colorado and then return home to my boisterous family of ten that I am going to be missing like crazy the moment I set foot on that plane--you bet it is!
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