When the kids seem to be playing reasonably well in the yard and no murder is imminent--it's more likely when 3-year-old Kian, son of your chef friend Brian O'Connor, is visiting for the day--sneak inside to make lunch. Get out
two boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
and set a pot of water to boil. You have to wash it first. Use the big one because the medium size was used for a sauce last night--Gabe did an awesome steak dish--and it'll take ages to clean.
Check your email while the water boils. That guy in Wisconsin is still waffling about whether he wants to buy the Tortuga. Hope he makes up his mind soon or that someone else jumps up to buy it. It's the 4th of the month and that sale is your rent money for August.
Fold the sheets, too. That way you can keep an eye on things... oh, gods. Jezebel is naked (you already knew that) and covered with sand (that too) and has now stuck her head into the water bucket which was in use in the sandbox to facilitate the building of sand-castles. Her hair is thick with sand, twigs, and dry grass.
Go stand out there and shake your head in disbelief. She's still adorable. As you watch she clambers out of the sandbox and starts toddling around after the "big" boys, who are wearing fireman's helmets and using badminton rackets as cross country ski poles. Hmm. Maybe her hair will just dry and the sand will shake itself out.
Finish the sheets. The water's up to a boil, but it can wait just a second. You've learned it's far wiser to go ahead and put away things that you've spent time folding, lest the kids unfold and drag them around the house.
OK, now open the boxes and pour in the noodles. Start to straighten up, but... isn't there some reason why you didn't want to hear that pitter-patter of baby feet coming into the house? Oh--! Quickly, take Jezebel back outside. An attempt to dust her off reveals that this isn't coming off easily. And her hair's a lot more thickly implanted with debris than you'd thought. How did she get it in there? OK, the bath's the thing. You can pop her in and out in two seconds.
The tub's dirty. Rinse it quickly. Jez wants to help; shoo her away 'cause it's pretty hot. God, how long has it been since the kids have been in the tub? Perhaps bathing them once a month whether they need it or not isn't the best philosophy. The kiddie pool's nice to keep dirt off, but it's probably been a bit too long since they've been shampooed.
It's hard to hear sounds with the bath water blasting and the toys clunking around the bottom of the tub as you scrub. Turning off the tap reveals what you've missed, though: a nice, ear-splitting scream from the patio.
Race out there. The kids are standing in a little triangle. Rhone looks concerned; Kian looks terrified; and you can't see Jezebel's face because it's mostly obscured by her enormously open mouth. Tears are streaming down her face like a creek in spring.
The situation is apparent--badminton racket is the smoking gun between the three kids--but it's good to start out with some intimidation. Kneel down in front of Kian, because Rhone doesn't look nearly guilty enough for it to have been him. With your deepest angry-mommy voice from down by the diaphragm, belt out the words, "What happened?"
Realize you've overdone it by half when Kian bursts into tears. Apparently laying the mommy's-really-pissed groundwork isn't necessary or effective with him. Back down considerably and ask him again what happened. After a moment he manages, "Bella's crying!"
This is actually no longer true; Jez has already stopped crying and is wandering back toward the sandbox nonchalantly. But that's not really the point. Say patiently, "Yes, I know Bella's crying. Why is she crying?"
"Because I hit her with the racket!"
Nod. This is about what you thought. Gotta follow through, even though Jez seems to have forgotten the whole incident and didn't even need a kiss from you. "OK, then, go on time out." A fresh bout of tears follows, but Kian marches obediently to the time-out corner and stands there, pressing his face into the corner, which thankfully muffles his wails a bit.
Snag Jez up and toss her into the tub. She adamantly does not want to have her hair rinsed. It always feels a little sick and wrong to hold her down by the shoulders and force her head into the water, but it's only the back of her head, and it's for her own good. Hair rinsed, she pops back up like a cork and wants to play.
"No, honey, this is just a quick bath because we're about to have--lunch!" Sprint into the kitchen as that sinking feeling--multitask FAIL--washes up your chest. The macaroni is happily bubbling away. Grab a colander. Grab the pot--it's hot! Grab a towel, then grab the pot, and drain the pasta. At least it's still in the shape of macaroni noodles. Sort of.
Pass Kian in the time-out corner on your way back to the bathroom. He's still crying. Tell him that as soon as he's done crying, he can be done with time out. For some reason this makes him cry harder. Shake your head. Take Jezebel out of the bath, dry her off, and get her dressed again. Kian is still crying, but more quietly now. Ask him if he'd like to be done and see how the tears get turned off with an almost audible snap. Talk to him about how hitting is yucky. He nods. (You pretty much overlook just regular hitting between the three kids, but hitting with weapons is another story.) He's gotten as much as he's going to get from this lesson; send him off. Within ten seconds, he and Rhone are cuddling with the kittens.
Return to the kitchen, dreading the congealed mass you know you'll find in the sink. Mmm. Poke one of the noodles cautiously. Yes, it's as bad as you thought. The noodle disintegrates with a little pressure from your fingers. Try to stir in butter, milk, and that powdered shit, and you'll wind up with a big bowl of starch mush. Mmmm.
Sag a little as you open the fridge. Mac & cheese was one thing you were pretty sure you could get Kian to eat. He doesn't like much: bananas, goldfish crackers, milk, and bacon. Hmm, bacon. You have a pound thawed. And there are a lot of eggs.
Quickly wipe out the cast-iron skillet and set it on the stove on high; line it with slices of
bacon, preferably homemade by your husband
While you wait to hear it sizzle, whisk together in a bowl
six small eggs
since small is the only kind your hens lay. Turn the bacon down to low so it doesn't burn--this propane stove seems to have only high and low, without much in between. While you wait for the bacon, prepare a plate with a paper towel to drain it and then quickly set the table. Take the bacon out of the pan, pour off some of the fat, and then add eggs. Scramble quickly; cool on a plate.
Serve with condiments:
salsa, which Rhone calls "Gorganic sauce" after hearing you mutter to yourself over the merits of buying organic salsa at Costco last week
grated sharp cheddar
As an afterthought, grab some leftover
out of the fridge. Kids love tortillas, and you can use them to make fun wraps out of ordinary breakfast food. Turns out, all Kian will eat is a tortilla, so this is a good decision. Another weekday lunch saved.