Five years ago today, I was in a hospital bed with no real intention of ever getting out. I was in so much pain that I could not conceive of the immeasurable task that lay before me. Five years ago today, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy via C-section in a very scary situation. I couldn’t imagine that it would ever be harder to parent than in that moment. Forget about learning to change diapers and breastfeed, I couldn’t even walk. How on earth was I going to care for this new human when I literally could not care for myself? Well, we made it, but there’s a reason why.

Luckily, Harrison and I had the love and support of Justin who nursed me back to health and nursed Harrison as well. Just kidding. He’s good but he’s not THAT good. (He did, however, go out and buy me a breast pump so that I could try in vain to breastfeed, and although that didn’t work out, we made a go at it.) We made it through those first several months by the grace of God. Even with the two of us giving our best to this tiny person, we still couldn’t believe what we had gotten ourselves into.

New moms everywhere ask of veteran moms, “How do you do it?” and of course the answers vary greatly. Most honestly one might answer that you have no choice but to do it and hope you end up still standing by the time your kids learn to stand. For me, that was part of it. But the bigger part was the people in our lives. In the past five years, Harrison has had the love and support of three sets of grandparents, two aunties, and an uncle. He has two step aunties, and two step uncles. He has a great aunt, two great grandmothers, and a great grandfather. With each one of these people, Harrison has formed a special bond  because each person has opened his or her heart to him. They’ve let him in. They have inside jokes with him, he knows where they hide the cookies, and he knows that when he’s alone with that special person, there is adventure and treats abound. But I can say with certainty, that if the treats were gone, if the adventures fizzled, he’d still crawl into the lap of each family member and offer a snuggle because he knows that is his safe place. That is where love is.

There are friends we’ve known since his birth, and ones we’ve met along the way. He goes to an incredible school where his teacher extracted his love of learning and planted Miracle Grow in his brain. Because she gave him a safe place to learn and explore, he has had great success in the classroom. Harrison also has the best daycare provider I could have ever imagined for my babies. Despite his incredibly emotional tendencies, she opens the door to fun for him, and encourages him to let loose a bit.  

The countless playdates with mom friends who became just friends who happened to be moms showed me that I was not alone, that my kid is normal (sort of), and that we all have so much in common, all kept me grounded. They still do, as these friendships continue to form and grow. The children with whom my boy interacts give him love and patience and kindness and friendship. For that I could not be more grateful.

Everywhere I turn, there are these amazing people with whom I have shared my child’s life and who have helped him grow. I cannot believe that FIVE is here, but my heart is full with all of the love around us, that just wouldn’t have been without our boy. And I couldn’t imagine a better life for my child, so thank all of you for making Harrison’s life complete. IMG_0659

Playing Catch Up

Yikes! Where have I been?? I honestly couldn’t tell you all of the details of my past few months as a working mom because it’s truly been a whirlwind. We survived the holidays just barely, and all of a sudden I go outside and it’s 70 degrees out there. Here are a few highlights from the past months:

Ella turned three in March. She used her magic princess wand to turn boys into frogs. The child is wise beyond her years.

Justin suffered the man-flu. The first time around it was the man-flu. The second time it was pneumonia and bronchitis. I think there’s a story about a boy and a wolf and some crying here that might support my lack of sympathy, but the good news is that he is feeling well now, albeit the serious paper cut he has on his left pinkie finger.

My students are still appalled that we have to read in class. By the way, I teach English. To seniors in high school. I told them that this was a necessary evil that must be endured. They’re still showing up, so I suppose they have acquiesced.

“Acquiesced” is a vocabulary word this week. How’d I do?

Cousin Shellie, who lived here, moved out to house sit for my mother; but she has since moved back in. She actually wakes up early to come downstairs and “watch the madness.”

Harrison developed a double ear infection and upper respiratory infection on my 35th birthday. The doctor at urgent care didn’t actually say, “upper respiratory infection”, but she wrote it on the discharge sheet for an extra surprise when I got home. It was as if she just wanted to dig the knife further into the wound. Speaking of wounds, the antibiotics H was prescribed turned him into a big red blob of screaming, kicking, itching hives. I told the pediatrician I had been treating the rash with Benadryl and he was all like, “You shouldn’t do that. It makes kids drowsy” and I was all like, “Yeah dude so what’s your point?” and he was all like, “Well you don’t want your son to be sleepy all the time do you?” and I was all like, “umm well I don’t know the correct answer to this question.”

If you missed it in number six, I turned 35. This monumental event coincided with the man-flu and double ear infection/upper respiratory debacle. Cheers!

I managed to slam my fingers in a door, pinch them in a carseat, and lose a diamond from the ring I was wearing on that hand all in one day. My middle finger still works fine though.

Harrison demonstrated his literary prowess by practicing the alphabet on our walls. He tried to blame it on his sister, who does not have the same skill set at this current time in her development. Unfortunately he gave himself away with his repetition of H’s throughout the house. He cleverly wrote a bunch of E’s outside of Ella’s room but we weren’t fooled. On another note, we’ve had to engage in several conversations about how lying is wrong.

Summer is now on the horizon and I hope to get back into this, so stay tuned. I’ve included an actual picture of my children getting along. This will go in a museum one day.17498760_10155208101311383_1998342815584970627_n (1)

Just Another Monday

I don’t know, you guys. It was quite a Monday I had. Around every corner, a new and special surprise was waiting for me. My work days start out very early because I like to wake up and exercise. Just kidding. I like to not be fat, so I wake up and exercise. I figure 5am is the one time of day where I can get anything done uninterrupted. Sometimes I am proven wrong with this theory, as I was on this particular morning. Harrison decided it was time for an early soiree, so, alas, my alone time was interrupted by a four year old demanding breakfast.

No worries though, because I had at least managed to get some exercise in. I flew into the bathroom and hopped into the shower. I had the courtesy to say good morning to my husband, which isn’t always the case that early in the morning. In the shower, I was thinking about how awesome I am for A) getting fit and in shape and B) kindly greeting another human being before 6am. That was until I realized it was Justin’s birthday. Wife of the year, here, nice to meet you.

In my defense, because I clearly need some, I had an important observation at work first thing, so I was a bit distracted. Once I made it into the car and on my way, I re-centered myself, turned my optimism on, and then the phone rang. It was Justin telling me that he didn’t have any car seats. I was officially ready to turn around and go home so I could crawl into bed and start the day over. It turns out that I, did not, in fact, have the car seats, but I only realized this after ten minutes of beating myself up over the whole thing and blaming myself for putting my children in grave danger.

The next obstacle was to somehow survive my observation. You guys, I’ve been observed zillions of times, but not very often by the superintendent and several other administrators all at once; and NEVER EVER have I been observed when teaching math.  You know why? Because I DON’T TEACH MATH. Except, sometimes I do. And one of those times happens to be Monday morning in a carpentry class. (If you know nothing else about me, you should know that I have no place near numbers or power tools. This was going to be FANTASTIC.) The good news is that I did survive that observation, and the superintendent survived too.

As most days that begin in a whirlwind go, so followed the rest of my work day. I was in somewhat of a spiral for the remainder of the day, what with it snowing and all. I was surprised to find out that even seniors in high school are completely inattentive to classroom happenings when the flakes are falling for the first time of the season. A special fun fact about my classroom is that some genius thought it’d be a good idea to exclude screens from my windows. So, naturally, why WOULDN’T kids want to open the window, stick their tongues out, and catch snowflakes in the middle of my lesson on comma placement? The cool part about teaching seniors, though, is that the show must go on, and so I did. They’ll have to make up for their lack of focus on their own time (Score for secondary ed!).

I left work quickly to drive (in the snow) to pick up a Christmas gift for Justin. The gift happens to be a large one so I had to make arrangements for the thing to fit in my van and get help putting said object in the car. That part was actually not much of an ordeal, but the problem was that I had to get it out of my car all alone. So there I was, in the garage, pushing and pulling like an idiot to get this monstrosity out of my car. Time was running out because I had to pick up the kids from daycare before they closed. I was really stressing because there was literally NO way I could get the kids without getting this thing out of my car first. Finally, I did get the object out, and I only suffered minor injuries.

I knew that I could breathe a big sigh of relief once I got the kids from daycare on time. Except, I couldn’t, because it was Monday. The special surprise waiting there at daycare for me was a notice that two lice cases had been reported at the daycare center, five had been reported at the after school program, and one was reported at Harrison’s pre-k. There is nothing worse than the impending doom of lice. The itchy paranoia of tiny bugs taking up residence on my children’s heads has still not left me. They are, however, doused in tea tree oil.

After the little heads were checked, bodies bathed, and mouths fed, Justin came home and reminded me that we had a sitter so we could go out for his birthday. Although I had forgotten this small detail, I figured it would be nice. That’s when I realized that I’m eating vegan for the month (don’t ask) and we were going to the best Italian restaurant in town. Do you know what kind of strength it takes a person to sit amidst ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan, and keep her hands to herself?? Our server, who happens to be a friend, assured me that my order was in fact vegan, and you know what? I don’t care if she was lying. There is only so much saving of animal lives that one can do after a day like that.

A Voting Girl

OK, everyone, this is NOT a political post. I don’t DO politics. I don’t understand enough about politics to go on the Internets and provide my opinion and expect to be taken seriously. But something monumental did happen tonight and I need to share it with you.

You will not find out from me who I voted for in the presidential election this year, because it really doesn’t matter. I have my beliefs, and if you want to have a conversation with me privately about those beliefs, I might oblige, but only after I do all the other things I need to do first. Included on that list of things is teaching unenthusiastic high school seniors conventions of the English language, changing diapers, folding laundry, helping my 4 year old with homework, taking the recycling to the refuse station, folding more laundry, brushing the teeth of toddlers, and fishing dismembered crayons out of the vacuum cleaner.

Despite all of the minutiae that piles up on my proverbial doorstep, I do find time to do important things. One of those things is taking my little girl to the polls this afternoon.

My boss let us leave work a few minutes early to vote today. Although Justin advised me to go vote before I picked up the kids from school and daycare, I decided I would pick up Ella and take her along with me. We don’t get to do that a lot, go places just the two of us, and I appreciated the time we had together for so many reasons. Upon a bit of reflection, I realized how big of a deal this mommy-daughter date really was.

First, I am a working mom. When my grandmother was pregnant with my aunt, and then my dad, she had to leave her teaching job. She was not ALLOWED to work (teaching kindergarten) while pregnant or with small children. Just a handful of decades ago, I wouldn’t be wondering if I SHOULD or COULD be a working mom. I would not have had the choice.

Second, being a working mom, it is important to note that I have a female boss. My female boss is also a working mom. She and I both have two children under the age of five. We’ve been able to pursue our passion as educators AND raise children. We also happen to be friends who have supportive husbands who give us opportunities to spend time together while they care for the children. Everything we have would have been unheard of in my grandmother’s time.

And now, for the kicker. I took my child to vote in the first ever presidential election where a female could legitimately (and I say that loosely…) win the election. Regardless of my thoughts or points of view on the eligibility and quality of the candidates we’ve been presented with, I need to step back and recognize the importance of this moment.

Will my daughter, age 2.5, understand today? No. Her main focus this afternoon was seeing how many goldfish crackers she could consume while I was filling in bubbles in the voting booth.  But as parents, it’s not always about what our kids remember or understand. It’s giving them those experiences  anyway. It’s about making memories, and making history. It’s about a working and voting mom, her girl, and a female on the ballot. 14500493_1081574558577713_7535224357630993022_ophoto courtesy of Kim Hilgendorf 2016

The First Homework Assignment

For years, I assigned homework. Every summer before school started, that homework board was prominently placed in my classroom. In the fall, once students trickled in, I would color code assignments with my brand new dry erase markers. I would implore my students to copy my words down in their planners. Special protocol was put in place to hand work in every morning and I’d chase kids around who hadn’t completed the tasks I so clearly laid out for them. Students were all over the place in their proficiency of this task; some completed their work with diligence and pride. Others looked at me as if I had just appeared from outer space when I asked them about their assignments. Phone calls were made to parents; meetings were scheduled with administration. I did not understand how this could be so difficult.

I did not understand the effect of homework until I had my own child. As a matter of fact, homework graced the Clark household in a rather surprising and unexpected manner. This fall, we sent Harrison to pre-k. Things were going great; I was packing his lunches with care each evening. He was bounding into my arms after school proclaiming that he had a fantastic day. Addition and subtraction problems were recited at meal time. He could write “Mom” all by himself. He was loving pre-k and so was I. Then one day, as I routinely went through his Take-Home folder, I found it. In the midst of his colorfully drawn pictures and a lunch calendar, there it was. A cockroach could have crawled out of his backpack and I probably would have been less frightened. I guess I knew it would come to this. I thought we might get through kindergarten at least, though, before the torment and doom reigned down on our house in what can be known as the first Homework Assignment.

As someone who was the responsible party for assigning homework for YEARS, you would think that I wouldn’t have had such an adverse reaction to it, but I have to be honest: my heart was heavy; there was a lump in my throat, and I teared up at the thought of even one moment of the precious time I have with my boy after school being dictated by someone else.

The assignment was easy enough; Harrison was asked to illustrate a picture of himself. He could add things found around the house like wrapping paper or buttons. It was quite a nice assignment, to be honest, but I couldn’t get past that terrible feeling, the realization that so many times parents must have had convulsions as they pulled out their students’ homework planners to find some spelling packet or reading assignment they needed to ensure their child completed. To me, it was another THING that needed to be done. Add that to the laundry pile, the dishes, and scrubbing the toilet. One more THING was taking me away from snuggling with my kids, or reading to them, or spending an extra few minutes giving them their baths. This particular assignment was to be a family task, so in reality we were all together for it. But it is still hard to know we have a little less freedom with our, well, free time.

I value school (good thing, right? Because, you know, I teach at one). I value my son’s teacher. A LOT. She’s pretty much on rock star status around here. I value the work she does, and as a fellow teacher, I understand the (sometimes) NEED to have homework. However, I can say without reservation that this experience has changed me completely as a teacher and I will be much more cognizant of how homework assignments affect families. As a matter of fact, last week, I ran into the parent of a former student and actually told this story to him. Then I apologized for all of the nights his sons had homework from me that maybe could have been avoided if I had stopped to think about the impact it had on families. Being a parent is stressful enough without this aspect added in.

We received a second assignment already this year. I put the paper on the fridge and stuck the due date in the back of my head. On Friday night, Harrison said, “Hey Mom, I think it’s time to get started on my homework.” I almost broke my neck when I snapped back to see who this responsible and eager creature was sitting at my kitchen table. And there it was, my second revelation of the school year: this homework was helping me see what kind of learner my little boy is turning out to be. I know I can’t be there in class with him every day now. I won’t always be able to hold his hand through everything, but right now I’m being given an opportunity to watch him grow and learn in a new way. Just because I understand what’s going on, doesn’t mean I am adapting well. img_4784-1I think this is what they call “growing pains”.

I’m Baaaaccckkkkk

I have returned from the abyss. But only for a few hours, folks, because it’s a school night.

The writing has been nonexistent lately due to this strange idea I had late last spring. I thought I should go and get myself a job. If you’re wondering why a woman, whose family is financially stable and completely happy without her employment might go and do such a thing, you clearly are not in the throes of raising a toddler and pre-schooler. The fact of the matter is that being a stay at home parent is a completely different kind of hard from any I have experienced. When I applied for this new position, I had visions of 30 minute lunches and uninterrupted bathroom breaks dancing in my head. I would be HELPING people! I would be teaching the future of America!

But, you guys, it’s still hard. Teaching is hard. Being away from the kids is hard. It has been a difficult transition for all of us. This new configuration has provided for some very interesting experiences thus far. Here are a few. 

Justin expressed to me the difficulty of getting the kids out of the house in the morning. He said I simply would not understand how frustrating it is to get them to daycare (after I dressed them, fed them, packed them, and brushed their teeth). Naturally, I had to feign surprise. After all, who let the valet driver go that has been taking them everywhere for the past four years?! We shoulda kept her around.

Since I’m teaching high school now, I’ve been learning all sorts of new things. Many of these things I cannot publish. I can say that my students are already incredibly adept at the inner workings of the legal system. Everyone says you learn best by experience.

You can only get cell phone reception from my classroom if you’re hanging halfway out the window.

Sixth graders and twelfth graders are not much different. As a matter of fact, all of my former tactics work with the bigger kids just as well as with the younger ones.

No matter how early I wake up to work out before I have to leave, Harrison wakes up earlier. I can’t even win at 5 am.

A student spent a good five minutes trying to ask me if I had a discman he could use. It took so long because he truly did not know the difference between a walkman and a discman, and described both as “that thing you put an 8 track into”…

In Pre-K, Harrison’s class operates on a green-yellow-red system for behavior management. Several times I have considered using this for my own classroom.

There are new words that the kids use these days, including: “legit” (meaning actually, or really), “same” (to refer to one who has had a similar experience or feeling), and “‘magine”, which is short for imagine; meaning ‘wouldn’t you know’ or ‘can you believe it?’ I find this one-word vocabulary to be incredibly in sync with their appreciation for and obsession over texting, and the desire to communicate with the fewest words possible.

Grumpiness is all around me. The students. My kids. It’s like everyone is a constant state of PMS. Speaking of which, I accidentally flung a tampon across the desk today when I was pulling out my materials to teach math class.

Ella informed me the other day that she held hands with a boy at preschool. Because Ella is Ella, it was not a matter-of-fact comment; rather, it was a “What are you gonna do about it” comment. Sweet Jesus, people. She is only two.

Harrison has already lost his winter coat and it is not even winter yet. That kid is one hell of an over achiever.

Packing lunches sucks.

Well, folks, I do apologize for taking such a hiatus. I’ve missed this. And, naturally, with a whole repertoire of new stories, I really should bounce back soon here once I get my schedule under control.

The Time We Went to Pittsburgh Part Two

You’re probably wondering how on earth we survived the plane ride from Portland to Pittsburgh, but if you read about part one of our journey, then you can probably understand that the plane ride was cake in comparison. No, Ella did not earn a baby doll for good behavior as she was promised, because, well, she needed to have good behavior. Screaming about wanting to get out of her car seat throughout both flights did not count as good behavior to us. Luckily, bringing her car seat solved the problem of her Houdini-ing her way out of the plane seatbelt, which really any fool can do. Those things were NOT meant for creative two year olds.


Once we arrived in the airport, Justin’s first task was to show the kids a statue of the dinosaur and tell them that the dinosaur would eat them if they continued to be naughty. Actually, I don’t know what he said exactly because I was too busy laughing at their scared faces while they stared up at the statue to really listen. But that is what I imagine he told them.


So I found my brother by happenstance purchasing a hot dog at a concession stand in the airport. Like, I literally just ran into him while coming back from the bathroom. I was thinking that this trip was going to be easy peasy if I found my ride that fast, and by accident! If you don’t know my brother, there are a few things you should know before understanding why this trip had so much promise. 1. He is a social justice activist. He loves standing up for what he believes in, and this sometimes involves police and other speed bumps. 2. He represents United Steelworkers unions all around the country to make sure they are treated fairly. I don’t exactly understand what this entails and it may be a cover for a secret agency that I believe he works for. 3. He somehow made me the black sheep of our family even though he’s the one sitting in trees, protesting, causing mayhem, and not calling our parents back-ever. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. 4. Most importantly, he loves Harrison and Ella fiercely. His niece and nephew are arguably the best things that have ever happened to him. That being said, he planned extensively for this trip. For example, here is one of his texts: “Can I bring Harrison and Ella to a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest if I promise no one gets arrested?”. It turns out that our flight times conflicted with this protest, but no worries; he had plenty of other things planned. Apparently so did they.

The first task was fitting an extra large bright pink suitcase along with a double jogging stroller in the trunk of Patrick’s Impala. I have no idea how they did it, but Justin and Patrick made it work.

We stopped at the grocery store to pick up some provisions. Harrison and Ella had their hearts set on the vending machines that spit out plastic junk for a quarter at the front of the store. Justin decided to indulge them and they each got a rubber ball. On the way back to Patrick’s, Ella kept trying to chew on hers. After several reminders to not eat the plastic toy, Justin took Ella’s ball away. To this, Harrison replied, “Dad! I’m not putting balls in my mouth!” And then we died.

Once we arrived at Patrick’s, the next challenge was child proofing his house. I lie. We did no such thing. We had cocktails. Patrick has two sets of stairs and a deck that falls out to an abyss, but we just simply hoped for the best. Everyone is still with us, so we did alright. Harrison was delighted that he got to camp out in his uncle’s room, and thanks to melatonin, both kids were out cold at a reasonable hour. By reasonable, I mean 9:30. Patrick had the distinct pleasure of seeing 5:00 am two mornings in a row, but I think he will survive.

Snack time in our household is kind of like 24 hours a day, but when I’m out at other people’s places, I try to hone in on a reasonable time period for my kids to eat. Patrick didn’t happen to have any plastic plates or bowls, so we took our chances with some ceramic ones. Ella promptly dropped one of them and it shattered all over the floor. Instead of being concerned, however, she ate her potato chips (yes I am health mom of the year) through the debris. From that point on the kids ate their food off of tupperware lids.

That night we ordered out because we knew better than to try to take the kids to a restaurant. Also, we thought it was incredibly amazing that you can order delivery for ANYTHING in Pittsburgh. Even tacos!

Our first adventure the following morning was the zoo. We had an amazing time there-if you’ve never been to the Pittsburgh Zoo, it’s a good trip to take. Harrison spent the entire time talking about the hippopotamus. Spoiler Alert: There is no hippopotamus at the Pittsburgh Zoo. We have no idea where he got this idea, however, we could do nothing but ignore his comments because we were in fear that great disappointment would ensue, and who wants to disappoint a kid at the zoo? Well, we tried our best, but unfortunately, we as evil parents and caregivers, let the kids ride the rides on the way out of the park. After they each picked two rides, they then chose temper tantrums, which weren’t on our menu, but, alas, they persisted.

By the time that was over we decided that we should just head back to Patrick’s place for naptime, but not until we stopped at his work first. He really wanted to show off Harrison and Ella to his coworkers, but as I imagined, his job is REALLY a top secret government spy agency and no one was ACTUALLY in the office at the time. Well, there were two people there who we got to meet but they were obviously spies as well because they came into Patrick’s office with stickers and glitter. They proceeded to parade my children around the office and allow the kids to sticker and glitter all sorts of things. Then they got out the megaphone. Harrison was in absolute heaven.

We went down a few floors and found Maria. Maria happened to be on a very important phone call (probably with the head of the spy agency. Patrick said it was the president of the union. SAME THING.) but she waved us in and signaled to the white board. The kids had a ball with that, but as you know, kids like to color outside the lines. In this case that meant Ella wrote on the wall instead of the white board. Maria seemed really nice because she didn’t completely mind that Ella did this; however, that reminds me that I need to purchase some magic erasers and send them to Pittsburgh.

After all of this fun and excitement, we went to lunch. On the way we found some fountains and we got in trouble for running in them, although Patrick said it was a good idea. After all of this clamor, we managed to make it home and have the kids take a nap (sort of).


We put Ella in the guest bedroom and all was quiet for quite some time, so I thought it was safe to go check on her. When I found her she was surrounded by empty granola bar wrappers, which she evidently snagged from my carry on bag. The joke was on her though, because that was it for snacks on the way home.


Our next Pittsburgh experience was taking the kids on the Incline. It was Justin who drove Patrick to distraction at this event, because he kept insisting that we all call the ride back down the Decline. Patrick tried without any luck to convince Justin that both the trip up and the trip down were called the Incline. At the top of the hill, we all had treats: ice cream for the kids and beer for the adults. We were joined by Patrick’s friend Hannah, who reads Live From Timeout and apparently wanted to see it all for herself. I am proud to report that we left her in one piece, and she was the only person who did not have to escort Harrison to the bathroom up an obscenely long staircase at the restaurant where we dined. Next time, Hannah, next time.

The following day, we decided to do a Ducky Tour. If you’re unfamiliar, these amphibious vehicles drive on roads and float in water. They’re great fun, especially, I assume, if it’s not pouring rain. I couldn’t tell you though, how much fun they would be on a nice sunny day, however, because our experience entailed the aforementioned weather. Harrison got to drive the boat, and Ella was asked by the driver no less than seven times if she’d like a try, but she curtly refused. Harrison kept telling the driver he wanted to turn the boat around and go back home, but the driver ignored his requests politely.

Because it was raining, we had few options left for the rest of the day. Ella’s only choice was a nap, but the boys all went to the Carnegie Museum of Science. Patrick says he’s never seen anyone so excited about anything in life as Harrison at a museum. Despite his apparent enchantment with all things science, Harrison reported back to me that the best part was eating popcorn at the Omni Imax theatre.

Our flight home was very early in the morning on Sunday, and although Harrison’s internal clock is set for about 5am, he decided to sleep in that day, through all of our preparations for departure, only to rise JUST before we packed up the car. I know Patrick was secretly hoping he could keep one of the kids, but we ended up taking everyone back.