if had just pushed that damned button...

Mornings. Ah, yes, mornings. That most special time of day when you rouse well-rested and happy children out of bed, feed them a hot, nutritious meal to start their day, and get them all out of the house early, because everybody is so very cooperative and motivated and not at all cranky or contrary.

Are you laughing at me??? You are, aren't you?


Okay, so I admit it...mornings in Lemony Villa are nothing like that. They're just not. We try, I swear, but they just never seem to work out that way. It's frustrating at times but I figure, eh, herding three kids and a husband out of the house isn't supposed to be easy. Add a dog who needs feeding, walking, and poo-picking-upping, and, well, things are generally pretty chaotic around here between the hours of 6:30 and 7:45 a.m.

We're usually pretty organized about our chaos, but some mornings...oh, some mornings...some mornings it's a miracle I don't light my hair on fire just so I can go outside and stick my head in a six-foot snowbank. And yes, I have a six-foot snowbank in my yard.


So this morning started just like any other morning...with Lemony Teen banging the bathroom door shut at 6:30, startling the cat sleeping on my pillow who then launched herself from the bed using my skull as her launching point. You'd think the cat would get used to the muttering teenager banging around in the dark, but no.

I got up. I found my gray hoodie and my slippers. I creaked and moaned my way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Got the water for the coffee heating. Schlepped outside to get the newspaper. Pulled bagels, frozen waffles, and cereal out for breakfast. Let the dog out.

Exciting stuff to start the day, no?

At 7:00 I went back upstairs to wake up the two younger Lemons. Opened their shades, flipped on the overhead lights, and used my overly peppy sing-songy voice to coax them out from under their quilts.

"Come on, Bean...time for breakfast...I have raisin bagels today! Isn't that awesome? You love raisin bagels! Come on, Bean! Let's hit it! Let's say GOOD MORNING MONDAY! BEAN! Get OUT of BED! It's time for BAGELS!"

My kids love me.


Mr. Lemony was crankier than usual this morning, but since he's not a kid and I refuse to play the role of his martyred mother, all he got was a, "Hey. It's after seven. I'm going downstairs and I'm not coming back up. You hear me, yes?"

My husband loves me, too. No, really. He does.

By 7:20 I had them all downstairs, including Mr. Lemony, who took the fastest shower EVAH because apparently he had a meeting to get to and he was running late. Which, of course, was somehow my fault, because we all know I'm responsible for getting a 30-something year old man ready for work. And, damn it, why isn't there COFFEE???

Dude, we have a single-cup brewing machine. I turned it on, the water is heated, pick the appropriately flavored K-cup thing and PUSH THE BUTTON.

And Lemony Child was FREAKING out about the clothes I'd set out for her. Because, you know, that is NOT what she wanted to wear, even though she's the one who told me she wanted to wear her pink, polka-dotted leggings to school today and there are only so many outfits one can wear with pink, polka-dotted leggings, so FORGIVE ME for working an outfit around the leggings YOU TOLD ME you wanted to wear today.

*inhale exhale breathe gulp coffee*

And Lemony Brother was having a full-on FIT about his breakfast. It was GROSS, you see. Why? Who knows, but that was his claim. Now, let me say this about my son: I love him very much. He's the only one of my children who actually looks like he has my DNA as part of his genetic make up, so I'm kind of fond of him for that. But he is the pickiest eater to ever be placed upon this earth, and feeding him - while not nearly as annoying as it was when he was a toddler - is something that can drive a saint to distraction.

It went something like this:

"I hate raisin bagels!"
"So have a plain one."
"I don't want a bagel! I want toast!"
"I'm sorry, but there's only enough bread for lunch. How about some cereal?"
"Only without milk."
"I'd really rather you put some milk in your cereal...protein and vitamin D and all..."
"No! Just a cup of dry cereal."
"How about oatmeal? You like oatmeal..."
"I'm not in the mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood for oatmeal."
"Okay, listen to me. You still need to get milk money, make your bed, brush your teeth, and make the bus. Work with me here..."
"Pop Tarts."
"Ugh. WhatEVER. Just EAT something!"

And then he flipped out because I *gasp* toasted his Pop Tarts. That apparently makes them grossnastydisgustingEW!


So by that point it was just about time to get out of the house, but did anybody have their coats ready to go? Or their backpacks? Or their shoes?

Yeah. No. Which really annoys me, because I am always reminding them to get their stuff ready to go. I do not need a backpack to get out of the house. I do not need a particular pair of shoes to match pink, polka-dotted leggings. I do not care if somebody doesn't want to wear THAT JACKET! today. I just care that they get out. That and I'm trying to teach them to be responsible for themselves and their things. I'm trying to teach them how to manage their time efficiently so they can go to college and not flunk out. I'm trying to show them how to be independent so they can grow up and be functioning adults and not live with me until I'm dead.

Basically I'm willing to help them where they need me to, by asking them questions...did you put your library book in your backpack?...and reminding them of things they need to do...don't forget to put your backpack by the door...and I'm more than happy to make them lunch and bake them cookies for snacks and give them tons and tons of slobbery kisses and rib-crunching hugs. What I am not willing to do is everything. They are capable humans. They can put their own shoes on and remember to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

And so, this morning, with Lemony Brother whinging about *gasp* toasted Pop Tarts, Lemony Child having a snit over a really cute white, hooded long-ish sweatshirt/sweater thing with silver thread that ties in the back and is absolutely PERFECT over a pair of pink, polka-dotted leggings, and Mr. Lemony muttering under his breath about having to push a freaking button on a coffee maker, I had what can only be described as a Nuclear Moment.

I slammed the Tupperware sandwich container (because who wants a squished sandwich???) down on the counter. Twice. The kids, they stopped dead in their tracks and blinked at me with very wide eyes, but Mr. Lemony was still muttering about coffee. So I slammed it down again.

"Listen. To. Me. I am NOT interested in hearing about how awful it is that you have to push a button. Or eat a TOASTED Pop Tart. Or wear CLOTHES. I do not CARE that you are cranky and grumpy and not in the mood for meetings and school. This is the REAL WORLD, people, and there are things you NEED to do to live in it, so suck it up and DO what needs to be done without WHINING about it. From NOW ON there will be cooperation in the mornings. You WILL do what you KNOW you need to do. You will GET DRESSED without yelling at me, especially when YOU are the one who picked those clothes. You will EAT BREAKFAST without yelling at me, and you will STOP being RIDICULOUS about food...you will JUST EAT what I put in front of you. It's not like I'm feeding you POISON. And. YOU. You. I get out of bed, get the paper, get the coffee going, pull the breakfast food out, and get these kids out the door on time every day without you so much as looking at me let alone HELPING me, so you will SHUT UP about having to PUSH A BUTTON on the coffee machine. I did everything else, you can push the button, all right? That's IT. I'm all DONE! There are new morning rules, and they go into effect RIGHT NOW: If you whine, if you complain, if you yell, if you don't cooperate, if you do not brush your teeth when you are told, if you are not ready at the door with your coats, backpacks and shoes when YOU KNOW you need to be there, you will lose fifteen minutes off your bedtime. EVERY time. Whine about Pop Tarts? Bed is at 8:15. Yell at me two minutes later about getting your hair brushed? Bed is at 8:00. Flip out about needing to get your backpack ready to go? Bed is at 7:45. I will NOT negotiate. Now nod so I know you understand."

Even the dog nodded.

And then.

Lemony Child turned to her father with a panicked look on her face and sad, "Push the button, man! PUSH the bleeding BUTTON! We're going DOWN and only you can save us! PUSH THE BUTTON!!!"

He nodded frantically in agreement and pushed the button. I made an excuse about needing socks and ran upstairs where I laughed until my eyes started to water.

Mornings. How I love them.


doggies and squirrels and ice, oh my

It's cold here. COLD. Like 3 degrees cold. Everything from the driveway to the street to the trees to the mailbox to the everything has a solid sheet of ice covering it.

It's lovely. Really.

Now, we're used to this sort of mess. We just shove our feet into big, heavy, ugly Bean boots, cram a hat onto our heads, jam our fingers into mittens, tie scarves to our faces and go about our business. Like walking to the bus stop.

My dog, who can't allow us to leave the house without her when she knows we're going for a walk, sat by the door and wagged her little nub of a tail like crazy even though I told her it was too cold for her to walk today. But she kept wagging that nub until her entire body was going, and I'm a sucker for a kidney beaning boxer doggie, so I relented and velcro'd her cold weather gear onto her back and strapped the stupid little ice boots to her feet. Clipped her leash on.

OFF we GO! It's BRISK. It's INVIGORATING! It's FUN. Until Lemony Child fell in the driveway.

"Mummmmmmmmmmaaaa! I hurt my elbow!!!!!!! Can we drive?"
"Do you need your elbow to walk?"
Then suck it up and keep walking."
"Fine. But I won't like it."
"I can live with that."

We were trudging merrily along, the dog so happy to be OUT, that she kept pinging back and forth from one side of the street to the other. Ping ping ping ping ping PING! Snorfling the whole way because she has this weird habit of snorting the snow like coke. Seriously. She sticks her face in the snowbanks, inhales deeply, and then comes out with snow completely covering her face, not to mention clogging her nostrils. So she snorfles. And sneezes. And then she shakes it off and does it all over again.

Clearly she isn't all that bright.

We made it all the way to the bus stop without another wipe-out, although there were a few close calls.

And then it happened.

The dog saw...A SQUIRREL!! And this is went through her little doggie pea brain:

"Omigaw it's a SQUIRREL! I must get it I must have it I must say hello to it I must sniff it I must must must must GO GET IT let go of my leash woman don't you see the squirrel don't you know I MUST HAVE IT don't you know it wants me to sniff its little squirrel BUTT LET GO LET GO LET GO!"

All that in about a nanosecond.

She tried to run. Tried. Oh, how hard she tried. Alas, it was icy, and all she did was scramble. And slip. And slide. And then, FINALLY, her feet got just enough traction to launch forward a fraction of an inch. Which was just enough to send her sailing, completely out of control, towards the squirrel.

Please remember that I was holding her leash and that, unfortunately, the dog wasn't the only one standing on ice.


By some miracle I stayed upright.

The squirrel got smart and scampered, defying all laws of physics when it didn't do a cartoonish scramble and spin on the ice.

Bastard squirrel.

The dog though...oh, the DOG...was SO NOT defying all laws of physics and was totally splayed out on the ground. Sliding. Right. Into. Lemony Child.


She fell down. Hard. Her feet flew up and knocked into Cam's backpack, and of course then Cam went down hard, setting off a chain reaction when HIS feet knocked into Molly's backpack...and Molly got Jake...and Jake got Nate...and Nate got Mikey...and Mikey got Kat...and Kat got Brian. Nobody was in front of Brian, so his feet just got air, which was far funnier to me than it should have been.


And so there they were...eight kids and a dog on the ground in a heap of ugly Bean boots and backpacks. Far funnier to me than it should have been.

Lemony Child, who heard me giggling like a mad woman, turned to me and said, without even the slightest hint of scorn (ha!) -

"You know, Mumma, the very least you could do is help untangle me from the DOG!"

Which I had every intention of doing, but, well, you see, it was icy. And, um, I slipped. And fell. Into Kam's mother. Which set off a chain reaction when SHE fell into Kat's mother.

Do you see where I'm going with this?


I'm driving to the bus stop tomorrow.