As we pulled out of the driveway (i,e. tiny patch of cement and grass in front of our house) I looked down at the time. 9:05. Perfect, we were right on time for our 9:00 breakfast reservation. No seriously. That's on time for us.
At the local pancake house, we met up with our good friends, two childless couples. It is quite possible that the only reason they still hang out with us is because we offer a hearty affirmation of their choice not to have children. Hey, always glad to be useful! We sat down and I promptly ordered the largest coffee available and then added a quarter cup of cream and five packets of sugar (because: four hours of interrupted sleep).
As Jacob was regaling our friends with the tales of his two missing front teeth and his visits from the tooth fairy (which involved a lot of Jacob pulling up his lip and shoving his toothless, gaping mouth inches from their faces), Ryan hurled himself at the booth next door and dove under the table giggling. One not-so-gentle reminder about restaurant etiquette later and I was downing my coffee while the kids sat in their seats sipping hot chocolate. Yeah, so whoever invented the idea of giving children scalding hot (breakable) mugs of liquid sugar topping with extra heapings of whip cream was a pure genius. NOT.
Less than two minutes after the hot chocolate arrived, I heard the loud swooshing of a mini waterfall and glanced over at Ryan to find that he had attempted to dump the entire contents of a full glass of ice water into his full mug of hot chocolate. That kid needs a lesson on spatial distribution. Watery hot chocolate flowed all over the table and trickled down into a puddle on the floor as chunks of whip cream formed into floating glaciers and slid past our plates. In Ryan's defense, he was just trying to cool down his hot chocolate. Mental note: add $2 to the tip.
Insert: random pictures of my children
Where did his double chin go?! No!!!
Oh, there it is, phew.
After things got cleaned up, the food arrived. As our childless friends dug heartily into their warm meals, my husband and I each grabbed a plate of bear-face shaped pancakes and began the meticulous task of cutting them into itty bitty, teeny pieces. You know, kids' food should really come pre-cut. Why isn't that a thing?! Also, if you cut a fake pancake bear's whip cream eyes in half, you will have to answer to a very upset six year old. Doesn't matter that the bear's eyes are just going to be chomped to death, forced down a tiny throat, and dissolved violently in stomach acid. Logic isn't part of the equation, afterall.
A million tiny pieces of pancake (except for four, mostly intact whip cream bear eyes) later, we finally sat down to our own plates. That's precisely when Jonathan began crying from his car seat (which had been perched haphazardly under our table-- third child, anyone?). But that's ok, because I'm actually training for the very likely possibility that someday I might lose an upper limb.... so I really need to practice buttering toast with one hand.
Like a carefully rehearsed routine, the kids ate ten miniature bites of pancake and then promptly engaged themselves in a game of restaurant-booth wrestling. This game was prematurely ended by my husband. Thereafter each child declared himself the winner, which initiated a verbal battle as to who is stronger. After trying unsuccessfully to explain rationally to the kids why we don't use phrases like "buttface" and "dumb jerk"(at least not in public), I gave up and bribed them with balloons. Works like a charm every time.
We finished breakfast without any casualties and then drove out to our favorite local tree farm. At the tree farm entrance, the employees offered us a saw to take with us. I grabbed it through the passenger window, laughed hysterically, and said "Hey kids, look, mommy has a saw!" The employees, who no doubt noticed the layers of bags under my eyes that would put an airport luggage carousel to shame and sensed the desperation in my weary mommy-soul, were not amused.
Ahhh, Christmas tree hunting! I had been looking forward to this day for weeks. I had imagined the activities of this day several times. We would frolic among the douglas firs and the nobles, Ryan and Jacob would be filled with wonder and delight as they agreed upon the Perfect Tree, the baby would gaze quietly with wide-eyes out at the expanse of greenery, and we would all get a frame-worthy photo before heading home with our prize and our sweet, sweet memories.
Surveying the land
Reality: Three feet from our car, Ryan stepped into a hole and cried hysterically. Jonathan was not happy about being woken up from his nap (or the blinding sun in his eyes) and screamed intermittently. Jacob ran in the opposite direction and got lost in a small cluster of trees. My husband circled the tree farm repeatedly without finding an acceptable tree. I made everyone pose for pictures, which required much screaming and threatening ("Jacob get your butt here RIGHT NOW. Ryan GET OFF THE GROUND. Both of you LOOK AT ME DAMMIT. Now, Smile!")
This would be a great picture, except for Jacob's zombie eyes.
After pictures were taken, I realized that my prescription sunglasses (which Ryan stepped on last week and which had been haphazardly taped together) had fallen out of my pocket. I offered $1 to the first child to find said sunglasses. In response to my offer, Ryan whined that he wanted to go home and asked my husband to hold him and Jacob grabbed a stick and started whacking random trees with it. Oh well. Who needs sunglasses in Seattle anyway?
We finally settled on a tree and the big boys took turns helping Daddy chop it down. How many boys does it take to chop a tree? At least three.
Our lovely tree made a quick journey into the back of our friend's pick-up truck (yay for friends with trucks). I love this picture :)
We paid for our tree without too much hassle, sampled some apple cider, and headed for home again.
Later in the day, our friends told us that they enjoyed following behind our station wagon during the drive back to the city. She said that we looked like a car full of cheer. Through the windows she could see all five us packed closely together, talking and laughing as balloons floated around our heads. One big happy family.
Little does she know that, in reality, my husband and I were yelling at the kids to stop punching their balloons into the front seat, begging and pleading for them to stop touching each other, and enduring Jacob's made up lyrics to the tune of "Jingle Bells." ("Jingle Bells, Santa smells, Batman pooped his pants." and "Jingle Bells, Superman wears diapers, Ryan is a dumb face.")
Oh Christmas. Bring it on!
Now if we could just figure out where to put the tree. Our dining room (and half of our living room) currently looks like this: