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And all I wanted to accomplish today was a phone call to my brother.

Why do I bemoan the fact that we have no social life? I seem to forget that every time we're invited to any sort of party, by the time the actual day arrives, I look for any reason not to go: "Was that a sniffle? Does the dog look like he's limping? Good God, did you forget to clean the curtains???? Obviously I'll never make it to this birthday party now!" And once I do force myself to go, I'm never comfortable: "Where am I supposed to sit? Have I been talking to this person for too long? I'm probably droning on and on and now she's trying to think of ways to end the conversation - shut up, shut up, STOP TALKING. No, can't do that, awkward silences are painfully worse than my blabbing...at least for me."

But, in my attempt to be a decent mother, I was determined to take Bryce to the birthday party of a classmate. Right after the birthday party, my friend was having an open house to show off his new backyard play set and fancy landscaping, and I'd committed to that, too (note to self: don't attempt two events in one day with a four-year-old who refuses to nap). I should have known the day was doomed when Bryce came up to me after having cake, while all of his classmates were running off their sugar highs, clutching his party favor bag in one hand and yanking on my arm with the other, saying he was ready to leave. The party was at the aquarium, and the whole reason he wanted to go was to "see the pets", which we hadn't even done yet. I packed him up and headed out, but halfway to the car he says, "Mom, I need to poop." Oh geez. Back inside for that, more cordial goodbyes to the mother of the birthday boy, back to the car.

Why, oh why didn't I listen to my very intelligent inner voice at that time? The voice that was S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G at me to go straight to my mom's to pick up Quinn and forget the other party? We got to my friend's house, more awkwardness with my fellow party guests ensued, and after the obligatory 30 minutes, I told Bryce it was time to go. He was in the playset, which is up HIGH, and a very small space. I'm claustrophobic. He was exhausted and delirious. I was trying to save my dignity. He refused to come out. I hissed. He giggled and backed away. I caved and gave in. If only that were the end of the story for me and my stupid, stupid attempt at a social life.

Bryce and I went to get Quinn from my mom's house, and then we all spent an hour deciding what exotic choice we would make for dinner. "Why did you have to eat there?", you may ask. And I wouldn't have an answer for you. Uh, because I'm lazy? Our final, genius decision was to order pizza, which then meant we had to wait for it, and by the time it got there the kids were so hungry that I spent the entire meal getting up to get them seconds of this or that. By the time I finally finished eating, Bryce was demanding to go home, and both of them were ticking time bombs. Under mounds of leftovers, Bryce's party favors, various blankets and other necessary items to take home, I was trying to strap both kids in and keep some semblance of sanity through the surround sound whining, when my very helpful mom pointed out that my left rear tire was flat. "You really need to fix that before you go. It's really, really low." CRAP.

My stepdad followed us to the nearest gas station - their air machine was out of order. Another mile down the road we found another one, but I had no tire gauge, and his was some high-tech gadget that gave us a completely different reading every time - .05, 13.5, 20.5, 6.5...huh??? Besides, it looked like after we filled it all the way up and I walked around to my door, it had already visibly leaked again. Brent assured me I'd make it home, and I sped off, completely paranoid and with visions of blowouts and sparks flying, a huge spinout, and an ultimate plummet to our deaths off the turnpike. After 5 minutes, I realized something. None of these neighborhoods looked familiar. None of these streets looked familiar. Oh. My. God. I WENT THE WRONG WAY. And all the roads were people's gravel driveways, no place to easily turn around. Crap, crap, crap, crap. Suddenly, my cell phone rang. It was my mom. Know what she said??? "You're going the wrong way." AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! So, so helpful. Such good intentions she has. I said, "I know, I'm looking for a place to turn around, bye." I finally picked a driveway and prayed an SUV wouldn't bash into me as I backed into the road. I found my way back to the highway, but not before Bryce said, "why are we going this way? I have an idea. Let's FLY home." And not before my mom called my cell phone again: "Did you know you also have a headlight out?" Kill me now.

Through the flat tire and being lost crises, the boys figured out I was pretty stressed, so they'd put a hiatus on their bickering and tandem demands. But once we were on the familiar highway, Quinn started in: "I wanna hear hahaha. I wanna hear hahaha." I told him no music, I had to listen to the car. By this time I was so paranoid that I literally thought the car felt like it was leaning to the left. Quinn saw the sun setting. "The sun's comin' up, mommy." "No, Quinn, it's actually going down - that's the sunset. Isn't it pretty?" "NO. Not pretty." "Yes it is, it's beautiful, see it?" "No, it's not pretty! I'm picking my nose." Huh. What do I even say to that?

We managed to make it home without a blowout on the highway, and without getting pulled over for my missing headlight. I struggled inside trying to corale the kids like the wild animals they are while holding the biggest pile of leftovers and clothes you can imaine between my outstretched arms and my chin, unlocked the door, got inside and herded them up for baths and bed. The only advantage to all of this is that they were so tired that bedtime was the easiest part of the entire day. (Huh, and interestingly, the only part of the day not involving other people and other places!)

John and I constantly say that we need to have more couple/family friends, ostensibly so we can DO more things and GO to more social functions. But every time we have the opportunity, it turns out pretty much like today did. I'd like to think it's because of the ages of our kids, but I think maybe it's just us.

And now for the kicker: we have another birthday party tomorrow.

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