How Not To Enjoy Blow-Off Day

Michael’s been away on a business trip all week, so you know what that means. After a week of struggling with two kids on my own, Friday arrives and with it comes Blow Off Day, the day where I do absolutely nothing but what I want to do, outside of taking care of the kids.

It should have been a breeze. My plan was to get up extra early and blow some fun time on computer graphics. Then I would wake up Cassie, get her dressed and fed and dropped off at preschool. Then Sam and I would head out for a nice lazy walk. Then we would head out for the morning. First stop, the hospital to pick up copies of my last mammogram (yep, coming up on time to get the boobs ironed out). Second stop, Barnes and Nobles because I have a coupon burning a hole in my pocket. I thought we might look through some manga and cook books and whatever else caught my eye. I’d have a frou-frou coffee with extra whipped cream (the baristas always give me extra whipped cream when they see Sam because they think she’s so cute). Then I’d hit the toy store and pick up a small gift for the party Cassie is going to tomorrow. All of that would be followed by a trip home, during which Sam would fall soundly asleep. I’d carry her to her crib, lay her down, and sneak off to do some more fun stuff on my computer. I’d pick Cassie up from preschool around 4 PM. At home, the kids could enjoy cartoons while I whipped together a quick dinner. We’d eat, pop in a movie (we only watch TV on Fridays and Saturdays around here, so yeah, Friday is a big day for the boob tube), and head up for bath and bed around 7 PM. After stories, both kids would be in bed by 8 PM, 8:30 PM tops, and I would have the rest of the evening to myself.

Yeah, that was how the plan was supposed to work. Here’s what really happened.

I got up early, just like I planned and spent some quality time with my graphics programs. I put together a really nice graphic for the podcast I’m starting up next month. I puttered away on my laptop happily until 6:25 AM, and then went to wake up Cassie to get her ready for school.

Only to discover that her right eye was glued shut by greenish-yellow goop. Twenty minutes later, when I had finally soaked away the last of the super-goop, I discovered my child had pink eye.

You know that put a kink in my plans.

I can’t take Cassie to preschool when she’s got pink eye, so I called the school to let them know she’d be staying home today. No biggie, I can still enjoy Blow Off Day with both kids. Of course, I’d have to take Cassie to the doctor, and to do that I’d have to make an appointment…

Since the doctor’s office doesn’t open until 9 AM, I had to delay my walk. I let Cassie watch some TV while she ate a waffle and I went back to work on my computer graphic. It was really turning out beautifully. I decided to let Sam sleep, since we weren’t going anywhere until after I called the doctor. When she finally woke up around 8 AM, I pried myself away from my graphics program and fed her breakfast. Then I let her wander around the living room, destroying everything she could get her hands on while I went back to my computer graphic. Cassie continued to nibble at her waffle and watch the Wiggles with one eye glued shut again.

At 9 AM, I made the call to the doctor’s office and spent fifteen minutes on hold. When I got through, I was told I could have an appointment that afternoon at 2:30 PM. Great. That would be right smack-dab in the middle of Sam’s nap. But Cassie has pink eye so I had to take it. I hung up the phone and started herding kids upstairs to get dressed. The afternoon was shot but I could still make it to Barnes and Nobles and enjoy browsing through books.

Unfortunately, we didn’t exactly hustle. For various reasons, we didn’t make it out of the house until 10:30 AM. No problem, though, I could still get in a short trip before lunch, and then put Sam down for a short nap so I could have some quiet time. Cassie could read in her room while I went back to work on my graphics. Right before we hit the parking lot of B&N, I remembered I was supposed to pick up my mammogram films, so I had to keep going and circle around to the hospital. Not a huge trip, but it did eat away that much more time from my book browsing.
At this point, Cassie started complaining of being hungry. “We’ll get something to eat at the book store,” I said, envisioning us all smiling as we shared a cheese-stuffed herb pretzel and I happily sipped my frou-frou coffee. “But I don’t want to eat at the book store, Mommy. I want to eat at Wendy’s.”

“Wendy’s?”

“It’s my favoritest place in the whole world!”

We debated the advantages of the B&N cafĂ© versus Wendy’s all the way through the hospital and back out again. We were still debating it as we headed into the bookstore. Sam started to fuss. I gamely tried to pick out a cook book while Cassie went on and on about Wendy’s and Sam’s complaints about being stuck in the stroller grew louder. Then Cassie said she really needed to go to the children’s section of the bookstore, so we went. I thought maybe the kids would get engrossed with the train table and I’d get to look at the cookbooks I’d picked out at random. Instead, I spent most of my time chasing after Sam as she ran amok in the kid’s section, yanking books and toys off the shelves. We didn’t stay very long (although somehow I did manage to pick out one cookbook and use my coupon; I hope I bought a good book…).

Upon leaving the bookstore, Cassie immediately announced that it was now time to go to Wendy’s. Since I obviously wasn’t getting any frou-frou coffee now anyway, I relented. It was close to home, so why not. We headed back across town, found the Wendy’s and I enjoyed what had to be the absolute cheapest meal of my life. I can’t really eat the food at Wendy’s – the burgers give me heartburn – so all I ever get is the baked potato and chili from the value menu. Cassie and Sam seemed to enjoy their meals though, so at least someone was happy with the cuisine.

After lunch, we went home and played outside for a while. Sam was thrilled with this. She’d had enough of the car for the day and was anxious to stretch her fat little legs. Too bad we only had 30 minutes before we had to head out for Cassie’s doctor’s appointment. Oh, the screaming we had when I put Sam back into her car seat. And the thrashing too. Kid nearly knocked me on my butt in the driveway. Somehow, I managed to get her strapped in and we all took off again. Sam’s screaming sounds a lot like a police siren, so we made good time as other cars pulled off the road ahead of us.

We spent an hour and a half at the doctor’s office, most of that in the waiting room. I had expected to spend much longer there, but I guess they were having a quiet day. My diagnosis of pink eye was confirmed and the physician’s assistant prescribed an antibiotic. It was at this point I remembered that I still had to get a toy for the party Cassie is going to tomorrow. Naturally, the toy store is on the exact opposite end of town from our pharmacy. Could the doctor’s office call in the prescription for me, so I could pick it up on my way home? Of course they could! Thinking I had just made life easier on myself, I took the kids back out to the car and headed for the toy store.

By now, Sam was getting seriously pissed. She’d missed her nap and had been stuck in the car seat most of the day. When she wasn’t in the car seat, she was in my arms to prevent her from trashing whatever location we happened to be visiting at the time. She screamed all the way over to the toy store and…

Fell asleep. I had to carry that little lump all through the toy store, and man was she heavy. I also had to argue with Cassie over what to get her little friend for the birthday party. Personally, I can only afford to spend so much on birthday gifts, especially since all of Cassie’s classmates seem intent on inviting everyone in the class whenever a birthday rolls around. The present buying thing gets expensive, you know?

Cassie eventually found a toy horse set that fell within my price range. After paying for it, we headed off to the pharmacy. I had this plan (again with the plans; you think I’d learn by now) to pick up Cassie’s prescription, rush home, turn on the cartoons, and whip together a quick dinner just like I’d planned. We’d all relax after running around all day and maybe even have time to play.

That plan went to hell in a hand basket when I got to the pharmacy and was told I’d have to wait another 30 minutes to get my prescription. It had been called in, but they were busy, so that was that. It turned out to be an hour long wait in the end, during which time I once again chased both kids around the store, trying to prevent them from breaking anything. Cassie started to complain about being hungry again, so I bought a ginger ale and a granola bar and the three of us split that while we waited. When we finally got the prescription, we headed home. By now Sam was furious about being stuffed in the car seat again, and not only did regular cars pull over as we drove, but so did a police car as well. At least we made good time on the drive.

Well, I did manage to get dinner out quickly. I had cooked chicken stew the day before, so all I had to do was heat it up again and serve it. Neither Sam nor Cassie wanted the stew though, and that started the nightly food wars up again. I did cave to Sam and let her have some baby raviolis, but only because they’re so easy to fix. With Cassie, I finally had to turn off the TV and tell her no more cartoons until she’d eaten her dinner.

“How many bites?” she asked me.

“All of it,” I said.

“But how many bites is that?”

“All of it means you eat every bit of food on that plate, young lady.”

“But I can’t do that! I don’t want stew!”

“Well too bad, because I’m not cooking you anything else. You either eat the stew or you go to bed. TV is not coming on until you’ve cleared your plate.”

And so on and so on… That particular argument lasted for over half an hour. I let Cassie sit at the table and whine over her stew while I finished eating and then went on to do my evening chores. I told her once I was done with the chores, her plate was going away and she was going to bed. Did she listen? Did she even attempt to finish her stew? Nooooooooooo. She sat and whined and cried and pouted and then threw a screaming fit when I finally came for her plate. Oh well.

Cassie did calm down in time to get a bedtime story. Sam sat through one board book and then tried to mug me for breast milk. I made her wait while I read to Cassie. Then we did our usual bedtime routine of rounding up monsters (we give them to Cassie to eat before she goes to sleep) and saying good night. Well, I said good night. Cassie said, “Mommy, I need someone to stay with me tonight!” This is her latest delaying technique. I always answer with, “I’ll be right down the hallway if you need me. Good night sweetie.” Then I walk out of the room. We’ve done this often enough lately that Cassie no longer cries when I leave.

After getting Cassie down, I tried to nurse Sam. She was more interested in chewing on my nipple than in nursing, so she went to bed early too. She screamed all the while as I worked on this blog entry, but now she’s quiet. It’s 8:30 PM. I finally have the house to myself. I’m dead tired and the only thing I got done that I had planned to do was my graphic for my podcast. Everything else just got derailed. I’m so pissed. I hate it when Blow Off Day gets screwed like that. Maybe I should try again next Friday. We’ll see.

Anyway, Michael will be home later tonight. Once he’s home, he gets the girls all weekend. I’m going to be busy working at Fantasci 6 this weekend, handing out brochures and promotional materials for EPIC. Should be fun.

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