It was one of those weekends. The kind that start out looking a bit busy and end up with you skipping from incident to incident and trouble shooting a new development every step of the way as you run all over the place. Those weekends.

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It all started out last week really, when the Dragon Lady had a job out of town and her husband wanted to go with her. Would I take the kids overnight?  Absolutely. Go. Runaway. Don’t think out me.  Even better,  the Golf Pro and I had a birthday for his brother to go to, and since she now owes me, she can take mine on Friday and I’ll take hers on Saturday.  This is why we parent in groups my friends.

But wait!  There’s a phone call. It’s our husband.  Did I remember that the Irvine Junior Games are on this weekend? The ones that both my boys and his daughter are signed up for?  The one that represents an all day commitment and I would have…wait, let’s count…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…oh Dear God 8 kids to wrangle?!!  I feel dizzy, but I shake it off.  We’ll figure this out. We’ll make a plan. Let’s get all MacGyver/Special Forces on it and not even consider defeat.  But also, let’s not even consider showing up there with 8 kids all day…cause that’s no one’s idea of a good time.

So, the plans go into action.  Draft the triplets dad into duty for the Junior Games. He can attend the games and cheer on the older kids and I’ll watch the others. Done dusts hands (Yeah. Like it was going to be that easy). And so, the 72 hours begin. The older 3 leave with their father, the younger 3 are dropped off with the Dragon Lady, and the Golf Pro and I hit the road for a childfree evening (weirdness in itself), celebrating the birthday of his older brother and hosted by this nice lady, my pseudo-sister-in-law…

Pretty, isn’t she?  The guy in the back is doing a much better than adequate job fronting the band that played Beatles cover tunes all night.  It was good.  I had sushi. I love sushi. I don’t have it very often. Something to do with the incredible money-suck that is 6 kids I think. I miss sushi, but in the scheme of things…you know.  And along with the sushi, we also had some of these…

(Totally gratuitous insert there. I just liked how interesting the neon sign looked in the picture.  I’ll move on…)

Saturday Morning: Our kids ended up staying the night with the Dragon Lady, which left me waking up the next morning to the totally disorienting sensation of a silent house. At first, I thought the Rapture might have started, and receiving that phone call from from the Dragon Lady only furthered this line of thinking, cause I think we all know where the two of us are going to end up.  But no, it was just her sorry self desperate to get all the kids out of her house and hit the road.  Party’s over my friend and let the games begin!

The Golf Pro goes to pick up 5 kids, delivers them, and then abandons me to flames of hell and goes to work. On the schedule for the day? Check in and pick up athlete tee shirts and packets on site at the Irvine Junior Games, backing up my failing computer, picking up the other 3 kids from their father’s house a few cities over…and just keeping body and soul together.

And here’s where it all starts to go wobbly.  The magic Apple Time Machine back up fails…about 4 times over many hours. This leads to a search of the message boards, the discover this is not an unheard of event, and finding new program called Super Duper, and then – Success!  And it only took all day! Whatever. We’re backed up now. When they crash my computer at the Genius Bar, I’ll be alright.

So that’s checked off the list. Next stop, an impulse car wash, because when you have a minivan full of children this will be the best $10 you spend all day. I’ve learned that much at least.

(A tip: Always choose the trifoam if you can, because it makes your whole car look like this and the kids think it’s the coolest thing ever.)

Next, we head out to the site of the Irvine Junior Games. We did the games last year and it’s a really great event.  All the schools in the district, grades 4 though 8th participate in this fund raising event to support the Irvine Children’s Fund, which helps with scholarships for childcare for low income families. There are very few issues more vital to economic independence than childcare costs in this country.  I love that our city is so proactive about it.  The event also pulls in the high school students as volunteers, which strengthens the cross community ties even further. Pure Awesomeness. The day before, they have a mini fair for some of the event sponsors,

One of the booths was “make a basket win a certificate for a free kids lunch at Islands”…Guess where we went to lunch?

That’s a Motley Crew, isn’t it? But off we went one of our favorites. Ordering took forever. The baby immediately lost the hot dog out of his bun onto the floor and while we were telling him not to pick it up and eat it, the 5 year old decided to ignore the “NO Condiment Use” rule that applies to all children in my house under a certain age and/or ability level. Here’s what it looks like when we don’t follow the rules…

Anyway, my sanity takes a beating, but we escape relatively unscathed and then we follow up with a phone call to the triplets dad, which determines that “No, no. I just bring them in the morning.”  And from there, it was go home and…well, I really don’t remember what happened from there. It’s just a blur.

Sunday:

7am – we are all awake as the first phone call comes in from my Junior Gamers, “Dad’s not home. He’s not answering his phone either.” (may I just insert that the triplets father plays poker professionally, has done so for 30 years. Being MIA, while a tad unusual when it comes to one of the kids appointment, is not completely out of the question). But ok, I’ll try and get hold of him. If we can’t find him by 9am I’m coming to pick you up. You’ll miss some of it, but none of your events.

9am – I am on the freeway headed to their father’s house. One Junior Gamer has already been dropped off and I am now playing against the clock. I get there and pick up the triplets, race back to Irvine and drop off the 2 boys, grab a few breakfast burritos at chronic taco, feed the people and head home to shower. I’m pretty sure at this time that I can make it for their first event at 12:35pm

I round up the remaining 5 kids and hustle them into the car. “Let’s go. Let’s go!”  And we head out to the Games, where I know parking will be non-existant. I am beginning to bargain with the clock.  If I just drop all the kids off they will at least be there to cheer for our people while I park. If I get lucky, I will still make it too.

It is while I am in the parking lot that it occurs to me that they will need money to get in. I dig frantically through my purse for the $20 that I know is there, but that suddenly isn’t there anymore. Ahhhhhhhhhh!  We are not going to make it!  The phone rings at that moment. It is their missing father. “Wait. You’re here? Right now?” Relief! “I am sending 5 children to the front gate. Please gather them up and pay for them to get in. You have 9 minutes before the race starts. Kthxngoodbye.”

Everybody out and stay together now. Success is still in the cards for us.  4 children get out. I look at The Kid in the rear view mirror. “Come on. You have to hurry.”  He doesn’t move. “You need to get out of the car. Everyone is waiting for you.”  He shakes his head and says to me, in the smallest voice possible, “I don’t have any shoes.”  For a few seconds everything just freezes while I process this. Resume thinking, and… “Right. Ok then.” I look at this face and do a fast reshuffle of our strategy…

Ok. Tell your father we’ll find you in there in about 20 minutes. Cheer for your brothers, don’t loose the babies and don’t forget to meet your brothers at the food trucks right after the race. Tell all this to your father. Good luck. Remember, name, rank and serial number only if you are captured. It will take three phone calls to hook them up with one another.

12:35pm – I pull up at the nearest drug store and order The Kid to stay seated and buckled. I will be right back with some shoes. “You’re going to buy shoes?”  “Yes, I absolutely am. Be right back.” It takes me 3 circuits of the store to find their rack of drug store flip flops. I have to call the Golf Pro and ask him what size shoes The Kids is wearing, since he has been buying the shoes for all the kids of late.

Back out to the car and greet The Kid with shoes. He is happy and still thinks we can make the race.  I don’t correct him…because he is so relieved thinking that he has not caused us to miss it.  It takes me 38 minutes to find a parking place…but we do, and we take a walk through the park to get to the game.  I breathe deep on the walk and soak up the blues and greens around me and regain calm…

In a little nod from the Universe, we get there just in time to see our two guys shoot their turn at the basketball competition. Yay!  All is not lost.  Well, except me. I stay “lost” from the others for a little longer than I might normally and just soak up the Games.  I buy The Kid a corn dog and snap some photos to make myself happy.  And I see my guys run their heat in the 100 meters…

And I take a few more pictures to cushion the fact that I am indeed at the Irvine Junior Games with 8 kids who answer to me…

(Yes, gratuitous “Arty” shot here. )

After they’d run there heat and the kids had been fed again, I rounded up the little ones, who were beginning to loose it,  determined which older kids wanted to stay and told their father that I was going home, assigned him certain children and gave him the schedule of remaining events. He sounded surprised when he said, “So, you’re not coming back here?”  If you were there, you would have been treated to my nonplussed face.  He was.  “Uh, that’d be No. See you all back at home.”

We made it through a wild rodeo kind of a weekend. On my way out of the games, I accidentally took 4 kids to the park for an hour or so, but that’s another story, which will shortly appear in Project 365+ The rest, like the night before it, is a blur. It may have involved food.  I really can’t remember, and I’m kind of glad about that…Next!