(NOTE: Brian just started a new office job that requires he leave early in the morning and get home after 6 at night. This, after many, many years of both of us working out of the home office. I can’t decide if this was a deliberate move to get some “alone” time on his commute – and mess with my sanity – or if it was a legitimate career move.)

A typical night…

The nanny leaves.

Lola sees me taking laundry I’ve washed and folded to her room. She decides she no longer wants to wear the princess dress she picked this morning, but wants to – instead – change into one of the dresses that are freshly laundered that I am about to hang in her closet. I explain that the dress she picked this morning is perfectly fine. She wails, “I WANT MY KITTY DRESS!” as she strips off the princess dress. I have to pick my battles.

While we’ve been in Lola’s room changing, Harlowe has managed to open an IMPOSSIBLE drawer in my grandparents antique secretary.  Aha!  A white acrylic marker! I come out of Lola’s room to swirls of acrylic marker across the hardwood floors. I take the marker out of Harlowe’s hand.  She cries.  I lock the acrylic marker in a desk drawer.

I clean up acrylic marker swirls on the hardwood floors.

Lola goes into the kitchen to watch her (my) ipad. She is currently on a “Barbie’s Dreamhouse” kick, which is “totes brain-numbing and horrendous.”

I quietly curse Brian under my breath for loading Netflix on my ipad.

The dog barks incessantly at something I can’t see out of the front door window. I explain to her that there’s nothing there.  She is undeterred.

“Color!  Color!” The twins stomp around yelling “COLOR!” as if in protest that crayons and paper have not magically appeared in two seconds.

Since we’ve had – several – instances of crayon graffiti on the walls, I tell the girls they’ll have to color in their highchairs.  Rowan goes with it and climbs into her highchair.  Harlowe protests and stubbornly sits at the dining room table.  I pick her up to put her in her highchair.  She shrieks and holds her legs rigid, refusing to bend them. I try tilting her backwards so I can get straight, rigid legs in the holes.  She jerks violently from side to side.  I wrangle her in.  Red-faced, she shrieks like a banshee as I put her tray on. I get each a page from the My Little Pony coloring book. Rowan begins coloring peacefully.  Harlowe throws her crayons and shreds her My Little Pony picture.  (Spike, I think?)  I tell her she’s getting a break in her room to calm down.  I put her in her crib.  I shut the door.  She continues to shriek like a madwoman.

The cat meows to be let out of our master bedroom, where he hides out most of the time. (His food is not in there, so he must emerge on occasion lest he starve to death). I open the door. He stands, frozen, in the doorway – terrified. I try to talk softly and encourage him to be brave. Rowan rounds the corner, shrieking “KITTY!”.  The cat darts under the bed. I close the door.

Malone cries. He is hungry.  I heat up a bottle of breast milk for Malone.

The dog is barking. She needs out. I open the back door and let her out.

Lola points out a piece of poop in the living room.  Harlowe has dislodged this from her diaper at some point, as she is known to do.

I rush back to Harlowe’s room.  It is quiet now.  This is not a good sign. She has stripped down and taken off her diaper.  She is playing with poop in her bed.  I yell that PLAYING WITH POOP IS NOT APPROPRIATE!

We wash our hands, put on a new diaper and clothes.

I do yet another load of laundry.

I give Malone his bottle in a genius bib that my mother-in-law got me that holds the bottle for him so I don’t have to.  Hands free, baby!

The dog is BARK BARK BARKING!!! outside. I’m going to get another lovenote from the neighbors. I open the garage and call her in.

Lola screams from the kitchen “I poo-pooed!”.  We go to her room to change her diaper. I explain that she is a “big girl” and that she should use “the potty”. She seems unimpressed. “Change my poop, wench! And ENJOY it!”

We head back to the kitchen.  Harlowe shrieks.  Rowan has bitten her on the back, leaving perfect teeth marks.    I get down on their level and explain the we do not BITE our sister – we LOVE our sister.  I get up and walk away.  Harlowe clocks Rowan in the head with a wooden zebra.  I take the zebra.  There is protesting.  I get down on their level and explain that we don’t HIT our sister – we LOVE our sister.

The cat meows to be let out of the master bedroom. I open the door and try to coax him out. He stands, frozen. For the love of God. A toddler squeals.  He darts under the bed. I shut the door.

I burp Malone.  He spits up, his aim impeccable – the spit up runs, warm and sticky, down my shirt and between my boobs.  I wet a paper towel and do what I can.

I take Malone to our room and put him in his crib so he can rest away from the constant din in the living room and kitchen.

I have got to get dinner started at some point.

I head back to the kitchen.  Harlowe grabs my leg “Me, me, me!” Holding her arms up at me. I pick her up and go into the kitchen.  She wriggles and says “Down.”  She wants down in the kitchen because the kitchen is blocked off.  Forbidden.  I set her down.  She immediately opens cabinets and begins pulling out plastic bowls.  Rowan sees Harlowe in the kitchen and shrieks. SHE wants in the kitchen, too.  SHE’S being short-changed.  She cries real tears.  I let Rowan in the kitchen.

Lola’s licking the side of the kitchen counter.  I ask her what on earth she is doing.  I explain that licking the counter is yucky, much like when she licks the outside of the car after it’s been raining or the cart handle at Target.  She laughs and twirls in circles.

The twins are hitting each other with plastic bowls.  I banish them from the kitchen.  There is much protesting.  And shrieking.  And hanging on the baby gates.

Lola gets dizzy from twirling and kicks over the dogs water dish.  It. Goes. Everywhere. “I didn’t mean to, Mama”.  I go get a garage towel to sop it up.

Lola goes back to the ipad.

“Chip!  Chip”. I get Harlowe a small bowl of chips.  “Tank you!”  I take chicken out of the fridge.  Rowan yells, “Chip!  Chip!”  I get Rowan a small bowl of chips.  “Tank you, Mommy!”  I go back to dinner prep.  “Mommy, I want chip, too.”  I get Lola a small bowl of chips.  I ask her what she says.  “Thank you.”

The dog wants out again.  “You were just out.  Did you forget to poop when you started barking?”  The dog forgot to poop when she started barking.  I let the dog out.

Someone throws an empty chip bowl at me.  I explain that the appropriate response, when one is out of chips, is to SET THE BOWL ON THE COUNTER. “Wadder!” Rowan requests.  I get them both sippy cups of water and a refill on chips.

Lola requests lemonade. In a “big girl cup.” With a pink straw. Oh, god. No.

I get Lola a lemonade. In a big girl cup. With a straw. I explain that she needs to be careful and not spill it. “I not spill it, Mommy!” she assures me.

The cat meows to be let out of the Master Bedroom. I open the door. He bravely darts out of the bedroom and into the childproof kitchen (save Lola, who can bypass anything childproof at this point). He eats a few bites of cat food, spastic from the danger surrounding him.

I take the chicken out of the package and season it.

I hear giggling from the living room.  Harlowe and Rowan are dumping water into their chip bowls.  I wrangle the soggy chips and greasy sippy cups away from them and set them next to the kitchen sink, where there are a half dozen sippy cups and kid bowls and baby bottles waiting to be washed.

The dog is barking.  Again.  Christ.  I go to clap my hands and call the dog in.  Rowan stands at the back door and claps her hands with me.

The cat meows to be let into the Master Bedroom. I tell the cat to shut up. The cat glares at me.  There will be a poop streak on my side of the bed in retaliation later.

I begin pre-heating the oven. Lola gasps. “Uh-oh!” She has spilled her lemonade.

I get paper towels to clean it up. Lola begins to cry. “Why are you crying?!” I ask. “I got lemonade on my dress!” she wails. She is right. There is a TINY DROP of lemonade on her CLEAN dress that we JUST put on. I explain that it will dry. She wails, “My dress is RUINED!!! I NEED TO CHANGE MY DRESS!!!” I explain that we have already changed her dress.  We don’t need to change again, unless it’s into pajamas.  “I WANT A NEW DRESS!!!”

I take her to her room to change her freshly laundered dress that has a speck of lemonade on it into yet another princess dress. We change.

We head back to the kitchen.  The cat is on the counter, licking the chicken.

I throw the chicken out and order pizza.