The Suppertime Hustle

My toddler is naked from the waist down.

“Did you have an accident?” I ask.

“Nooo, I was just wet.” She smiles up at me. “I can’t find ANY clothes”.

I know that her dresser is full of clothes, because I just put them away. I briefly wonder where the water came from. Last night, she stopped up the sink and flooded the bathroom, then insisted she was ONLY trying to brush her teeth. Either way, I’m going to have to get up. I just sat down. A few minutes ago I decided I was done weeding and mulching the flower beds and was going to check my email. Why am I so tired? Oh yes, now I foggily remember getting up in the middle of the night, stumbling around the backyard with a flashlight, and trying to untangle a sheep who had gotten caught in some brush. Did that really happen? I half hoped it was a dream.

I get up to find my toddler some clothes. As I get up, another child hands me some mint leaves she picked and begs me to make tea. I’ve been promising to make mint tea. I grab the leaves and decide to make a refreshing pitcher of mint tea while I am up. I wander in the general direction of the kitchen and laundry room, remembering that the last bit of toddler’s folded wash pile is still downstairs.  There is half a pot of coffee left in the kitchen. “Hey, Shane. You want some iced coffee?” I want some iced coffee. We’re having iced coffee.  May as well also put on  hot water for mint tea.

Why hasn’t the table been cleared from lunch? Oh yes, we ran out to piano lessons, leaving Shane to entertain friends that stopped in and to serve the younger children lunch. I haven’t been back inside since piano lessons. I call the child whose job it is to clear the table, and assemble the ingredients for iced coffee. Why isn’t there any  ice? I take a deep breath. This is the third time in three days that I have pulled EMPTY iced cube trays out of the freezer. I gather the children and show them how to refill the ice cube trays…again.

Someone lets the dog out and it starts chasing the sheep. I send teen child to deal with it. It’s 4:45. I need to make supper. I sift through the clothes waited to be folded in the laundry room and come up with jammy shorts, a t shirt, but no undies. I try to sound convincing when I tell my toddler that she doesn’t NEED undies with these jammies, but she doesn’t buy it. I hand her the clothes and hope she puts them on. What was I going to make for supper tonight? There is ground beef defrosted on the counter. Chilli. Still doable by 5:30, if only I remembered to cook up the beans. I dismiss the thought of dragging out the pressure cooker and start rummaging through cabinets.

Meanwhile, my toddler is now completely naked, except for a cape. She is Super Naked Girl, running around the living room in all her glory. Teen comes in from rescuing sheep, gets toddler some undies, and convinces her to get dressed like a civilized person.

The kettle starts whistling that my hot water is ready, but a pitcher is no where to be found. I decide NOT to ask teen if she’s been using it to feed the goats again, because, it’s not worth getting frustrated about right now. I find an almost empty container of juice and make the tea in that. While the tea steeps, I start frying hamburger, still not entirely sure what I am going to do with it. No pasta, but I did find tortilla chips, salsa, and olives. I pull them out. One of my children wanders into the kitchen and sees the can of olives. “Mom made OLIVES for supper!” She runs through the house, announcing the glad tiding to every member of the family. Soon several gather to see said can of olives. “They’re SPANISH OLIVES,” my seven year old assures her sisters.

That was easy. My success is due, in part, to the fact that the only cooking show my kids  watch is Chopped, and that I homeschool. If Daddy comes home from the grocery store with canned squid and gummies (because it was ON SALE! A DEAL! 10 10 tins for $1.99), they assume everyone eats like this. If I fish a can of olives from the back of the cabinet, it’s a “special ingredient”.

I go the extra mile and chop the olives. I throw the tortilla chips on cookie sheets and top them with beef, olives, salsa, and lots of cheese, than announce we are having deconstructed enchiladas for supper. They buy it. (Thank you Chopped.)Someone finds a couple tubs of sour cream in the fridge and  I bring the still warm mint tea to the table. We have survived another suppertime hustle.

Now to find the sheep. (As I wrote this, dog got out, scared the sheep into escaping, and they are somewhere in the woods). The kids all ran upstairs to see if they could spot the sheep out of the bedroom window, and their stampede caused the dining room light to crash down on  table and break. Is it bedtime yet?

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