Day 1: You Can’t Make an Open Faced Grilled Cheese Sandwich on a Panini Maker

Day One. The day Jessica leaves to pick up her mom to move her up here. It’s Thursday. It’s also the first time since the new arrivals that I will have the kids.  The plan was simple. The plan would work. Jessica was to leave first thing in the morning so she could get as far as possible before she needed to pull over, do her end of day work, and/or find a place to stay for the night. Ashley would show up early so that I could take the kids to school. The plan was simple. The plan would work.

But then. . .


Things seemed to be off to a good start. For the first time ever, all the kids were up and active by 6:30 am. This never happens. typically at 6:30, I’m up with the baby and Jessica is getting out of bed. Eli gets up somewhere around 6:40 and Big A, somewhere between 6:40 and 7:00. At 7:00 I almost always have to go up and wake Brenna up. And at 7:05. And at 7:10. And 7:15. ‘N’ is a crapshoot. Sometimes he’s up at 6:30 and sometimes he sleeps until 8:00. But I digress . . .

So, kids were all up. The morning routine was in full swing. Breakfast consumed. Everyone happy. Jessica had the lunches made and backpacks packed. Typically, Jessica is the one to take the kids to school, but it was decided that today I would do it so she could do her last minute packing and then when I got home from taking them to school, I’d clean out the Armada and she’d be good to go.

So, as I was saying, things were running smoothly. Brenna ran to get something and decided she and ‘N’ would play a quick game of chase and that’s when I heard it. Crying from the other room. It seems that while they were playing chase, something jumped up from the ground, tripped Brenna and she banged her knee up. By the time I got to look at it, it was already bleeding and showing signs of a bruise. So, I tell Eli and ‘A’ to go out to the garage and I would unlock it from the house. They go outside and we bandage Brenna up (who is still crying).

By the time I get outside, ‘A’ and Eli are fighting. Apparently, Eli went to open the garage door and ‘A’ pushed his hand aside. Then Eli pushed ‘A’s hand aside and the argument ensued. By the time they were in the car and on their way to school, all three of them were in tears and I had already had enough for a full day, never mind the fact that the day had just begun. The two older kids have been having a real problem getting along lately and it only takes the slightest thing to get them into an argument. Ohhhh. . . I can’t wait until they’re teens (only 3 years away).

At school, they went their separate ways, I dropped Brenna off as she limped into class, went to the boys’ rooms and said goodbye to them and then headed back home to finish up the part where I clean out the car so Jessica can head on her trip. Ten minutes later I was done. At this point, it was around 8:30. The next part of the plan was that I would walk Barcelona, get back, feed her and then head back to the school to pick ‘A’ up for a 9:30 doctor appointment. The plan was simple. The plan would work.

As I walked into the house, I noticed that Jessica was on the phone. “Yes, I am sure it’s around here somewhere. Yes, we’ll look for it. I think from now on, it would be a good idea if you didn’t borrow books from your friends and maybe just borrowed from the library. You DO have a library card after all.”

Turns out, ‘A’ had borrowed a book from a friend (who borrowed it from the library) and seemed to have misplaced it. He was to return it today, so instead of walking the dog, the next 25 minutes were spent scrambling around looking for the book. At 8:55, with both of us looking everywhere we could think of (in the car, upstairs, downstairs, under everything in the house, Jessica announced that she had found it. Ok – I have about 8 minutes to get the dog walked and fed before I have to run to pick ‘A’ up for his appointment. No problem.

I know this sounds funny, but we have a dog that poops and pees on demand. That’s right, she’s so well trained that we can say, “Barcelona, go potty” and she’ll break her heel and go potty. Unfortunately, she won’t poop and pee in the same place. So, out the front door we run, giving Jessica a hug and kiss goodbye, I suddenly realize I forgot to pack the tow hitch, run to the garage, get the hitch, throw it in the car and off I go with B-dog. As usual, she immediately pees in front of the house. Then I walk her a little bit to another of her favorite territories and tell her to go potty. 30 seconds later she’s done her business. I go to grab a poop bag from the little dispenser we have on the leash. Oh ya. I forgot to reload the poop dispenser. We’re going to be late.

Then I spot it. A plastic bag that someone threw on the ground. Sad to say, but that corner gets its share of litter but today that litter saved my bacon. I grab the bag. Grab the refuse and run to the house. Get inside, feed B and then I’m out the back door to get ‘A’ for his appointment.

“Why are you always in a hurry Mr. Marc? You should get here earlier for my doctor appointments so you’re not always rushed.” That was what I was greeted with when I arrived at the classroom. And sometimes, explaining to a 10-year old that you’re late because a certain ten year old did not put his book in a good place and the baby took it and hid it under the pump organ does not go over so well. Sometimes, the 10-year old seems to think that just because he remembered where he put it means that it was put in its correct spot. Sometimes, 47-year old’s patience has gotten thin enough that a fast paced walk/talk/lecture can be heard down the halls of the school.

And sometimes . . . with all that, the lights all turn green and the appointment is made with a minute to spare.

At the appointment, I finally got a moment to catch my breath as ‘A’ went in for his session. It was needed. And it went by fast. But by then, I had relaxed a bit. I knew Jessica was on her way, and I could get home and work. I took ‘A’ back to school, dropped him off, got home, sat at my desk and worked mostly uninterrupted. I had nothing going until 3:00. And that was simply going to be a planning meeting with the contractor and electrical contractor to get on the same page and look at the plan going forward.

We were supposed to have our weekly company meeting at noon, but it was decided that a couple of people were at parts of their project where it would be better if we pushed the meeting until later so they could show what they had done. 10:00 PM CST was the decided upon time. We have five people working at ServerPress now and family considerations are always among the top things we think about when we plan and 10:00 seemed good. My kids would be in bed and I’d have time to chill for a bit.

By 2:00, I hit a wall. I was ready for a nap. I thought about it for about 30 seconds when we came across a particularly difficult customer service ticket. Gregg, who does, probably 90% of the customer service, had run into a snag trying to get a website deployed and asked if I’d help. So, I took a look at the website archive and discovered that it was riddled with viruses. I was able to get it cleaned up and went to deploy at about 2:45. This was a fairly large site with a lot of files, so I knew that it would take a while for the files to get sent up. So, starting the transfer, I then met with the contractors. Our General Contractor could tell that I was feeling a bit under the gun and informed me that I had recently been added to his prayer group. I assume that he’s praying that we’ll be able to pay him for all the work he’s doing. He should.

After he left, I discovered Eli was home but the rest of the kids were gone. Ashley decided to take them out for ice cream but Eli opted to stay home. He wanted to hang out with me but I had to finish that customer deployment. The files had gone up so I only needed to do a couple quick things and boom, the site was up.

Right about then, everyone was back. Ashley left, I asked what everyone wanted and it was decided that I’d make grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. We have a panini maker. I have made several sandwiches in the panini maker. I know that in order to successfully make a sandwich in a panini maker  that a minimum requirement is a top piece of bread and a bottom piece of bread. The don’t have to be fully slices, but in all cases, you need bread at the top and bread at the bottom. There is no getting around this simple fact. There is no futzing with the system. But apparently, I don’t know this.

I had my assembly line going. Two pieces of bread buttered. Two slices of cheese unwrapped. Throw the bottom piece of bread in, butter side down, throw in the two slices of cheese, put top piece of bread on, close lid. Repeat. It’s really not that difficult. And I was doing great. Until sandwich number three. Step one: Throw in the bread. Step two: throw on the cheese. Step three: close the lid. ACK!

The lid had only been closed for less than five seconds. It’s amazing how quickly Kraft American Cheese Singles can melt (they’re not really cheese anyway).

“stupid. Stupid! STUPID!!!” could be heard from the kitchen. “We don’t say stupid” could be heard from the living room. But still, the kids needed to eat.

So, figuring out that you can, indeed, clean melted cheese off of a hot non-stick surface with only a few minor burns, I was back in action a few minutes later repeating to myself, “Step one: bottom piece of bread. Step two: cheese. Step three: TOP piece of bread. Step four: close lid.”

The good news is that the sandwiches were enough of a hit that they were gone in no time and seconds were asked for.

Then, Brenna came in and asked if she could have dessert. I explained that since she had had ice cream with Miss Ashley that dessert was out of the question. The argument then commenced, “but please daddy?”

“But I want dessert!”

“You know the deal. No arguing on things like this. Please go upstairs until you’re ready to talk about things calmly”

20 minutes later, this is what I found:

Yes. I am pretty sure she was tired. It’s been a long week.

Unfortunately, I had to wake her up. It was time for baths. ‘A’ had taken his shower. Eli was to take his in the morning and it was now Brenna’s turn. So, I ran the water and, with no argument (which is unusual), she took her bath, made it quick and it looked like the night-time routine was going to go fairly easy. Now, keep in mind, this is the first time I have had all five kids to put to sleep in one shot. I have had to do four before and by the time the fifth got home,  Jessica would be back to also help close out the night. This is an important thing to keep in mind for a bit later (yes, there is a later).

First things first. ‘N’ to get his pajamas on. I then put him out in the front upstairs room watching Daniel Tiger. Next thing, blow dry Brenna’s hair. MAN that kid has a lot of hair and MAN does it take a long time to blow dry it. And MAN, did it used to take ME that long when I had long hair? (I think the answer is yes).

With Brenna then in her room, I turn off the big TV and put ‘N’ in his bed. The kids are allowed about 1/2 hour of time in their rooms before lights out to do what they want. With ‘N’ this usually means watching something on his tablet. So, I put Daniel Tiger on his tablet, tuck him in and move on to put the baby to sleep. 10 minutes later, ‘A’ is asleep and in his bed. I then go into Brenna’s room to have our evening conversation and say goodnight. Then Eli and our evening conversation and say goodnight. Then ‘A’ and our evening conversation and say goodnight. Ahhh. All kids in bed. That wasn’t too bad! Now I’ll let the dog out so she can do her business and get fed.

Time to relax for about an hour and a half and write a blog post.

And then, at 9:15 it hits me. I NEVER SAID GOODNIGHT TO ‘N’!!!

I check the camera and sure enough, there he is. Laying in bed. Happy as a clam watching Daniel Tiger. Ear to ear grin. If you’ve seen ‘N’ you know he has a smile that melts your heart even if he IS up an hour and fifteen minutes later than he should be. So, upstairs I went. Shut down his tablet and ten minutes later he was fast asleep.


Day one was a challenge but since no one got seriously injured or died, I’ll call it a win. I’ve always been amazed at the work that goes into being a single parent and they have always had my respect. AND, I know that day one was just me establishing my own routine but still, thinking of all those single parents who do this day-in, day-out? My hat’s off to you.

And maybe, just maybe, I should do something really nice for Jessica when I go on my business trips. Thinking cap on.

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