A division one water polo team coach reached out to Laddie and expressed an interest in having him play for his east coast school. This exciting opportunity sparked a few time-consuming events. The coach requested film of Laddie playing. Because I video most of his games, I spent an entire weekend reviewing my footage. Thanks to my habit of recording countless hours of home movies of the kids' activities, vacations, and funny moments, the hard drive on our computer where our family videos are stored was busting at the seams. The computer begged me to eliminate 50 gigabytes. Until I accomplished this task, creating a highlight film proved impossible. More time.
My eyes burned as I witnessed Laddie's senior year season repeatedly ensuring that I had captured his most impressive moves, goals, and steals. Meanwhile the state of the house took a turn for the worse. Laundry piled up. The fridge's disarray interfered with meal prep. Bedtimes were ignored. Reggie shone in a few baseball games with no family members available to witness his success. Complaints were lodged about the lack of sorted socks. Sleep eluded me. At last the job was done. The highlight clips refused to email. Youtube wouldn't load them. I saved them to a flash drive and Laddie delivered it to his high school coach Ms. Ball. Although Ms. Ball had mentioned that she could overnight a flash drive to the east coast, she ended up following a different path. Lad told me that the division one coach wasn't able to open Ms. Ball's email of the files. I invested more time in the project and successfully uploaded them to dropbox.
Meanwhile, as I sat glued to the computer screen waiting for downloads to complete and files to save, I wasted no time. I multitasked by printing invitations that I designed on the computer for our upcoming combo graduation/first communion party for Laddie and Curly. Once the college coach texted Laddie to say that he was able to see the highlight movies on dropbox, I switched from video editing guru to house organization mode. The task was daunting and it made me grouchy to constantly clean up after my sloppy offspring. Shortly after congratulating myself that one room looked polished, the kids shuffled in from school and destroyed my order.
There were lists of things to accomplish prior to the party, but regular life plugged away at what seemed like a record pace. In addition to studying catering menus there were errands, laundry, meals, games, and chauffeuring duties. The three youngest needed new sneakers. Coach's efforts to complete the basement before the party meant I took a few detours from shoe stores and grocery runs to Home Depot to select a sink and faucet. In my spare time I emptied the entire refrigerator and mudroom, carefully selecting the items that could be reintroduced to these fresh-smelling, newly rearranged spaces. My heightened radar honed in on kids leaving a trail of belongings and half eaten food. My shrieks of frustration caused sulking, pouting, and scurrying away as the kids tried to cope with my wrath.
One morning a week and a half before the party, I woke early and took the time to make a detailed list of all that I planned to accomplish that day. Lunch boxes sat empty on the counter while I hid in the study examining my list in the adding items to it. Suddenly I heard the garage door open and little voices. 'But it's Tuesday,' I thought to myself. Turns out I had blanked on the fact that I had agreed to babysit an additional day that week. Crap. My kids' faces froze in half smiles as they welcomed the two little guys who were being dropped off in my care. Eddie whispered out of the side of his mouth, 'Did you know they were coming today?' Nope. One more road block in my attempts to prepare for a huge party followed less than a week later by a family road trip to Glacier National Park. My plan to prepare most of our dinners in advance and bring as much of our food as possible complicated the packing process.
Days before graduation the east coast water polo coach invited Laddie and I out for a visit. I shopped for last minute flights and ended up choosing to utilize our frequent flyer miles. In order to squeeze this quick school visit in before our Glacier adventure, we would depart on the Monday after Saturday's combo party and return on Tuesday. Successfully sandwiching the trip in before the our lengthy road trip when I had not yet recovered from my sleep-deprived, party-prep state made my head spin.
A few months ago, I hoped to create an all encompassing movie/slideshow to be shown at the party. I imagined video clips focused on Laddie ranging from entertaining to sweet, from memorable to humorous together with several photos set to the perfect music. The only issue was carving out the time to make the plan a reality. Days before graduation, I began to plug away at this project all the while convincing myself that somehow the house would be clean before the party. I searched iTunes for the songs I hoped to include so that I could burn the movie to a DVD hours before graduation. A glitch with my iTunes account caused me to get in touch with a woman named Amanda at iTunes technical support.
Amanda and I struggled to decipher why I was unable to download music. While I was on the phone with her, I heard Coach come home from work. Because I was anxious for him to pitch in and reinforce my cleaning efforts, I cringed a bit when I heard Coach invite Reggie into the yard to practice his pitching. While Amanda plugged away at my iTunes issue I scurried around the house with the phone clutched at my ear attempting to get a few things accomplished. Each time Amanda instructed me to try something else to unlock my account, I jogged back to the computer.
I sat in front of my computer in the study following Amanda's guidance when Coach called to me from the hallway that he needed to see me. 'Not a good time,' I whispered. 'I'm on the phone with iTunes trying to get the music for the DVD to download.' That's when he informed me that it was an emergency. I poked my head around the computer desk just in time to see him jerk his head back. I noticed there was blood on his face and he held his hand near his chin. I jumped out of my chair and stepped into the hall. My new buddy, Amanda, waited while I attended to Coach. My first thought was that he had missed a pitch and broken his nose. He extended his hand and displayed a tooth with a long wire attached. The ball hit the ground in front of him and took a bad bounce. I stared in awe at my husband's toothless smile realizing that graduation was in two hours.
'What do I do?' he asked. Amanda heard my muffled sobs as I looked up the phone number for our dentist. Coach called on his cell phone while I urged Amanda on our landline to help me wrap up the movie. The dentist had no hours on a Friday, but he called Coach back and told him that he was headed to the office. Before Coach headed out the door, I hollered to him to bring clothes for graduation. I had no idea whether or not Coach would make it to Laddie's ceremony. I was losing hope that the DVD would be complete, and by taking a quick glance around the first floor I struggled to imagine how the house could be presentable for our impending party.
My emotional state crumbled. I shoved all of the kitchen chairs into the family room so that I could wash the kitchen floor. The phone was still at my ear. At last Amanda determined that I simply needed to reset my password. She walked me thru the process as I revealed how my frustrations ran deeper than Coach's cracked tooth root. 'My husband has been largely unavailable for day to day tasks as he devoted two and a half years to refinishing our basement. He walks in from work the day before we plan to host a huge party, and since he recently wrapped up the most significant projects in the lower level I assume he is finally able to help me,' I shared through my sniffles. 'He surprises me by making a quick exit so that our youngest son can practice pitching. Twenty minutes later he walks in with his tooth and bridge work in his hand.' Amanda felt my pain. Her job at apple suddenly included duties as a therapist.
I wrapped things up with my new BFF at Apple and shoved a couple of kids into Laddie's backseat as he drove to graduation. I needed a couple of warm bodies to save us some seats at the stadium for the ceremony. Time had slipped away during the craziness of the afternoon. In my hopes to empty the fridge of leftovers to make room for the party food, I grabbed a hunk of meatloaf wrapped in tin foil from the fridge. I chopped up a few slices on a plate, heated it, squeezed some catsup on it, and handed it to the kids in Laddie's backseat seconds before he drove away.
Coach called from the dentist and told Curly that he was done and would meet us at the graduation. He instructed her to bring a bag of ice for him. I finished washing the kitchen floor, and realized that I forgot to go to Costco to pick up the cakes. I mentally reassigned my Costco run to the party day. Swell. I admit to glancing at my watch repeatedly thru the chilly graduation. I was distracted by my mental things-to-do list. Coach sat on the other side of Curly with a baggie of ice clutched to his throbbing face. Normal? Not exactly.
Thankfully the next day proved to be a beautiful, sunny day which was a welcome change from the prior weeks of unseasonably cold weather. Before I ran to Costco, I downloaded my desired music from iTunes and plugged it into the nearly complete DVD highlighting Laddie's seventeen plus years. Once the computer promised to burn my project to the inserted disk, I raced around and accomplished tasks while calling out orders to Curly and Mini. The three oldest boys were caddying and Reggie was at his baseball game. Between my housework duties, I checked back occasionally at the computer and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the 'Done' message, but I remembed that I had been fooled before. A 'Done' message didn't guarantee that the DVD would play on the TV. I carefully stuck the disk into the TV and stood back with my fingers crossed. Curly stood next to me and clutched my hand. As the images I selected began to flash across the screen and the upbeat music blared, I broke into a joyous, energetic dance. Curly giggled at my antics.
We captured the glorious celebration with several photos. If you look closely, you will notice Coach's scabby lips. A little reminder for posterity that life is never dull.