Have you ever had a day that left you understanding why some people really lose their minds?
I did. This past Friday to be exact. And I almost did lose my mind so much so that if you had seen me by the time I went to bed around 11 p.m. on Friday night you would have seen a woman with hair like Mel Gibson's after coming out of a battle in Braveheart and a face like Frodo's every time he heard the winged nazgul coming in Lord of the Rings. Not a good combination if you have ever seen both movies.
So Friday morning starts off great; in fact it was one of the best.
Cue flashback music: Ozzie, Philip and I are sitting at the table and eating breakfast together for the first time in forever. I read Scripture aloud for a family devotion, and not even Philip peeps during the reading. Ozzie wraps up breakfast and heads off to work, while Philip and I get ready for the day. I start laundry and the dishwasher. Philip plays. It's a big and busy day for us.
I work for an organic baby/tot/children's food company and represent them at events where I do sampling, handing out coupons, etc. I have a very big event the next day (Saturday) for which I have to leave at 6:30 a.m. So I must do all my preparation that day. Plus, Ozzie had invited a new family from the Hispanic church over to eat at our house that evening. It's a family of five, and they are supposed to come at 7 p.m.
So I map out the schedule. I'll run Philip to the park and let him play for about 30-45 minutes so he'll take a good nap later. Then we'll go to Publix and buy what we need for our meal. Ozzie is making rice and beans and I am going to make Cuban steak in the crockpot. It only requires 5 ingredients and all I have to do is put it in and let that magical pot do all the work. While I'm there, I'll also pick up some frozen maduros that I can pop into the oven. Easy, schmeasy. Dessert? Well I'll make a quick and easy version of Tres Leches (Three Milks). So I'll need a yellow cake mix, heavy cream, evaporated milk and, wait for it, sweetened condensed milk. Oh and yes whip cream. Again, easy. Once I shop, we'll go home and eat lunch. I'll start the meat and put P down for a nap. While P sleeps, I'll prep for my event, clean the house and take a shower. Ozzie will be home several hours before so he can help me with whatever I don't finish. We'll welcome our guests, eat, and visit. Then we will all go to bed full and happy. I love schedules!
Park is a great idea. Philip has so much fun with all the kids; it’s hard to pry him away. But like every great mom I bribe him with a cookie from the grocery store. We go to Publix; I get him the cookie I promise and he really is a perfect kid. Things are going just according to the schedule.
Then the first thing happens that should’ve alerted me to the rest of the day. Maybe I was getting a little too confident, maybe I was a little naïve, or maybe both! But I empty out everything in my cart; there’s a line behind me. I have the cart with the “car” in front that Philip can sit in and pretend he’s driving. This thing is like a bus. And all you moms who have ever “driven” one can testify to this truth. So I put the last item on the conveyor belt and realize I forgot the whip cream. I can’t make the Tres Leches without the whip cream! Oh man. I put the last item I just took out back in my cart. I stop the cashier lady, “I’m so sorry but I forgot one necessary item.” Blank stare. To the women behind me, “I’m so sorry; forgot that one item you know. I’ll be out of your way in a jiff!” Blank stares. So there I am getting red and sweaty. It’s a good thing I wore my workout clothes to the store! (I don’t know about you, but when I have a busy day where I have to get a lot done, I like to wear my workout clothes. Not because I’m going to workout but if I’m going to sweat doing chores then I’d rather do it my gym clothes.)
I get all my items back into the cart, make everyone back up behind me, turn the bus around and go to the frozen food aisle. This has put me behind schedule, but at least Philip is still being the perfect child for mommy today! (1. If you ever start thinking your child is perfect, you’ll soon be reminded that they aren’t. 2. Don’t count the eggs before they hatch.) Son and groceries are loaded up; we arrive home. I get everyone and everything out of the car. I put up the groceries; I empty the clothes dryer; I make Philip and me lunch; and we eat. I then put Philip to bed. Whew! What’s next on the schedule? I think it’s time for that second cup of coffee!
It’s about 1:30 p.m. and I pull everything out I need for the big event. It takes longer than I realize. What were you thinking, Kristen? I really hope Ozzie gets home early. I start working away. Cutting boxes open, organizing containers, setting out all my supplies. I look up at the clock and note that it’s 3 o’clock. Okay, 3 o’clock, wait, nooooo! I haven’t put the Cuban steak in the crockpot yet! Don’t panic. Open up computer; go to Pinterest; find my food board; scroll down. Where’s the recipe? Oh there it is. Scroll down some more. "4-5 hours on high in crockpot." The race is on; there’s no time to lose. My fridge door stands open as I rip the steak out; my fingers are in danger of being cut off as I go at the bell peppers and onions. All my spices are out of the cabinet as I look for the cumin and oregano. Of course they are at the back. As I am literally throwing everything into the crockpot I’m praying that it takes only 4 hours not 5 for the steak to cook or else we’ll be eating at 8:30 p.m.! Whew. Well that was a close one but everything is still ok. I walk into the living room and look around. I look at the clean laundry piled on a chair.
My event stuff is strewn everywhere,
and the playroom is a disaster area.
Don’t panic; you still have time.
I wrap all my event prep up by 4 p.m. Philip wakes up but I hear the garage door open. Ozzie is home! Breathing easier. Philip is settled; I start handing out commands to my hubs as he is walking in the door. I look at the clock and it’s 4:15 p.m. Oh no, wait, I haven’t made the cake yet and it has to cool before I put the Tres Leches on it! Really? Pull out the cake mix I bought; I need water, oil and three eggs. Open the fridge door and pull out the egg carton. Two eggs. Again, really?? What does a desperate housewife do in a desperate situation? Call the next-door neighbor. She doesn’t answer. “Ozzie, do you have Frank the neighbor’s number in your phone?” “Yeah, I think so.” I find Ozzie’s phone and find Frank. Call Frank. Frank answers. Me: “Hi Frank. This is your neighbor Kristen. I know this is crazy but can I borrow an egg? We have company coming to dinner tonight and I am one egg short.” (I tend to talk a lot when I get nervous.) Frank: “(Static noise. Inaudible sounds. Can’t make sense of words.) What? Excuse me. Hello?” Me: “Frank, you there? Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I was wondering if you had an egg I can borrow.” Again, glad I had on the workout clothes because I’m pouring sweat at this moment. Frank: “(Static. Inaudible sounds.) Hablas espanol?” Me, holding phone down and away from mouth: “Ozzie, I think I called Frank the mechanic! Talk to him!” Ozzie: “Kristen, just hang up.” Frank: “Hello, hello.” Me: “No you talk to him.” Frank: “Hello! Hello!” I hang up. Frank calls back. I throw the phone to Ozzie and head out the door. Lo and behold, there sits Frank the neighbor out on the bed of his truck talking to another neighbor. “Hi Frank! Can I borrow an egg?” I ask exasperatedly. Sure; not a problem, he tells me. Oh thank you Lord!
Frank comes out with an egg carton with three eggs. I take it and run. I promise I’ll buy him some new eggs. The schedule is now nil and I am operating in a survival/panic mode. I whip up the cake and attack the living and play rooms. Ozzie has started on the rice and beans. He asks me if I bought Coke or Sprite for tonight, to which I yell, No! He asks me if I bought cilantro. Again, No! Great; I hope they like water and cilantro-free beans! I was able to clean both rooms and vacuum. The cake is out and cooling. Things are looking up. I plan to do a quick vacuum of the hallway so I leave the vacuum out.
At this point I decided I didn’t have time to shower but I have sweat so much (more than I had anticipated) that I really didn’t have a choice. Ozzie decides to run to the store at 6:30 p.m. to grab some drinks for our meal, while I am mixing up the Tres Leches to pour on the cake. “I hope these Hispanics are late like most Hispanics and not early or on-time Hispanics.” We both laugh. “Most likely late Hispanics,” he yells on the way out the door.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…
I pour about 1 cup of the Tres Leches over the cake and set the bowl aside with 2 cups remaining of the mixture. I go back to the computer to see what I need to do next. I remember reading that I wait for the cake to absorb some of the Tres Leches before pouring more of the mixture on it. As I am glued to the computer screen reading this recipe, Philip comes running in and grabs the bowl of Tres Leches and flips it over. You read right. He dumps 2 cups mixture of heavy cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk on the kitchen floor at 6:30 p.m. – 30 minutes before company arrives.
Without missing a beat, and while I am in a completely stunned stupor, Philip runs out of the kitchen covered in Tres Leches into the living room leaving little Tres Leches footprints on the wood floor.
He jumps in the chair. Noo! I’ve got to stop him from spreading the mess! I carry him to my bathroom and take off his underwear. (Did I mention we are in the middle of potty training?) I then remember that Ozzie has left me with instructions to turn off the beans and cover them once they come to a boil. Oh no! The beans! I run to the kitchen. Oh no! This mess! I hear Philip behind me; he’s peeing on the floor! Nooooo! I’m screaming, “Let’s pee-pee in the potty” as I carry him back to the bathroom and as he leaves a trail of pee-pee on the floor. I tell him to stay in the bathroom. I run back to the kitchen and turn off the beans. Philip is behind me again and now has a truck that he’s sending through the Tres Leches. I grab my phone and call Ozzie. There’s no telling what my voice sounded like on the other end of the phone, but it was obvious that Ozzie was really concerned about my state of mind as he was sweetly telling me everything was going to be ok and to go take Philip with me to the shower. I plead with him to call our guests and ask them to come at 7:30 instead. But since Hispanics are never on time to things, he assured me not to worry.
I couldn’t leave the Tres Leches however, so I emptied my kitchen of every towel I could find and doused them in water and sopped up the milk. I run Philip with me to the shower. We are about three minutes in and I had just lathered my hair and his (because at this point there was no helping my hair except by washing it), and I hear noise. I left the TV on so that’s what I am hearing, right? My cell starts ringing. I open the shower door and it’s Ozzie. I answer on speaker phone, “Hey honey, we are in the shower. Everything OK?” “They’re here, Kristen.” “Hold the phone. What?” “They’re here. They rang the doorbell and no one answered so they called me. I told them to wait for me in the car.” “Please explain what happened,” I say before we hang up.
And as Philip pushed bath toys between my legs and as the warm water sent my shampoo down my back I stood there sobbing and laughing at the same time. I didn’t know which to do so I did both. I pictured my husband bringing in our guests only to find the vacuum cleaner still out and our bedroom (which is right off the living room) door open exposing all the junk that I threw in there from the living room. I thought of the guest bathroom that I had not cleaned, of the maduros (oh the maduros!) that I forgot to put in the oven and the Tres Leches, which I never finished.
So I did what anybody in my shoes would have probably done. I took a looong shower. At this point I wanted to prolong the inevitable of me coming out and greeting my guests with wet hair, no make up and a naked son. I wanted to prolong the embarrassment of walking across my kitchen floor and hearing the “crrrreak” of my shoes prying itself away from the sticky floor. And I secretly hoped that this was all a nightmare and my husband would walk in and say that our guests had rescheduled.
However none of that happened. And I finally had to come out and face the music. The family greeted me with smiles. I went ahead and started the oven and put the maduros in. I covered the cake in whip cream and stuck it in the fridge. When it came time to eat, I tasted the meat and it was a little chewy. I apologized for the chewiness of it and the wife exclaimed that they liked their meat chewy. (What a sweetheart!) When I cut into the cake it wasn’t very soppy like Tres Leches is supposed to be, so I apologized again for another part of the meal. But she said they don’t like their Tres Leches to be very soppy but just a little sweet. (Again, was she being honest or did she just know from one woman to another what to say? Either way, I was glad she did.)
We ended up having a very nice meal and a wonderful conversation. Ozzie and I felt like we were truly serving the Lord by having this family in our home. In fact at church today, one of the children came to me and said, “We had so much fun at your house. Can we come back again?”
In the end, it didn’t matter that my vacuum was left out, that my floors were sticky or that this family saw many of our imperfections. What mattered was that we welcomed this family with open arms and that we did it with a joyful spirit unto the Lord.
In the midst of the chaotic day, after I called Frank the mechanic, and I opened the egg carton that I just borrowed from Frank the neighbor (you just can’t make this stuff up!), there printed for me in the inside of the carton was Psalm 118:1. “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”