I wrote this story on May 14th, the day after the following events took place and just now decided I would post it. I deliberated if I wanted to actually post it here, but after sharing with a few close friends, decided that perhaps I would. Our crazy life is what makes us endearing, right? Just say yes.
I've been blogging for years, although not so much the past year or so and that is for two reasons. The first being time. Juggling two kids, a husband, two dogs, a full-time corporate job, and running a winery and soon to be brewery "on the side" is enough to fill my plate. And then some. The second reason is because the blog I started back in 2009 when it was just my husband and I and our two dogs growing a vineyard has evolved. What started as a blog about this venture getting a new business off the ground evolved into our website for our winery. And I've found myself a little gun shy when it comes to sharing personal stories of our crazy life on what is now a professional business website. The posts are more about the evolution and updates with our winery and expanding business, and less about the crazy antics of our family and what goes on behind the scenes. And in my opinion, that's the good stuff. But, I've pulled back on sharing them to keep a separation.
Lately, however, I've been feeling the urge. In this crazy life I lead, I find myself wanting to document stories. If not for anyone else, for me. So that years from now I can look back and remember what times were like right now. And probably get a good laugh because this life, right now, is pretty insane.
I call myself Superwoman. When Aaron asks me how my day was, my usual response is something along the lines of , "Oh, I was just busy being Superwoman." I don't mean it arrogantly. I mean it in the way that I don't know how it is humanly possible for me to do everything I am doing in my life right now. But somehow I am.
Case in point, last night. After working my corporate day job, I picked the kids up from their respective daycare and preschool. Pulling back into our driveway, I had to drive onto the lawn a little to get around a cement truck that was here pouring concrete for the walls of the brand new winery building currently under construction. After unbuckling the kids out of their carseats and ushering them inside, getting shoes and spring coats off, we were just getting some toys out to play at home, when Nick pops his head in the door. Nick is a regular face at our place as he has helped with a lot of the winemaking, and will be taking on a brewmaster role for our brewery. We are all in the office/mudroom, which has become one of our favorite rooms in the house. It is southfacing, bright, faces the vineyard in the back and was remodeled last year from an old one car garage stall.
"Did any packages arrive today?" Nick asks while waving hello to Bridget, my 1 1/2 year old. She puts a hand up to her mouth and makes a "mwah" sound, blowing him a kiss. He was looking for some brewery equipment something or other that was supposed to have arrived.
It is unusual for a day to pass that we don't have a delivery from Fed Ex or UPS, but it's been known to happen. I quickly run to the other side of our one level farmhouse and see if there were any boxes by the garage door. I am just peeking out the window at the door when I hear Axel, my three year old call out from the office, "MOMMY, I HAVE TO GO PEE!"
Usually when I hear those words, there is a 50/50 chance that he has already started going. We've been potty training him for, oh, about a year and a half and while he has been very good lately, accidents are not unusual. Apparently, I did not read the right miracle potty training book. I race back to the other side of the house where Nick is still standing with my kids waiting to hear if I found any delivery boxes with both kids in the room. I look at Axel standing there helpless. "Run!" I say to him. "Run to the potty." I see a pool forming at his feet on the tile floor. This time, the 50/50 is not in our favor. He starts to run, but I realize he is leaving wet footprints as he runs, so I pick him up, holding him a foot from my body and scurry to the other side of the house, where our one bathroom is located, all the while shouting over my shoulder apologizing to Nick that I didn't see a package and don't have time to keep looking right now. He understands. This isn't his first time witnessing a scene like this at our place.
I help Axel pull his wet pants off and plop him on the toilet, even though I doubt there is anything left. I leave him there to go get Bridget, still back on the other side of the house and make sure she isn't putting any clump of dirt or gravel in her mouth that may have been tracked inside from Aaron's work boots or one of our dog's paws. She isn't. This time. So I grab a rag to wipe up Axel's "prints" off the floor. Then I pick her up and carry her over to the bathroom with me to see how Axel is doing. As I am standing in the doorway with one hand wrapped around the door, Axel's independent streak takes hold. He doesn't want me in there helping him, so he forcefully jumps off the toilet and runs to the door and slams it. On my hand.
That might leave a bruise.
I go to the freezer to get an ice pack. Opening the freezer, reminds me that it is dinner time. I look at the clock and it's a little after 5pm. I hadn't figured out what to make for dinner yet but remember I had gotten all ingredients for tacos last time I was at the store. Good, quick, easy meal and the kids like it.
I go down to the basement, still carrying Bridget on my hip as I don't want her walking down the steep flight of stairs herself. I go to the chest freezer where we have been storing the cow my husband bought last December. At the time, he thought splitting half a cow with our neighbor was a good idea, so we have been working our way through 306 lbs. of beef. There are boxes and bins of toys on top of the freezer and I remember we put them up there last week when our basement flooded due to all the rain. Now that we have a new sump pump, I take all the toys off the freezer top and put them back on the floor along with Bridget, who immediately starts pulling them out. I get my pound of ground beef and scoop her back up to go back upstairs and she squirms in my arms.
My thigh vibrates once. Text message. But I am carrying a toddler and frozen beef, so it can wait. Plus, the frozen meat feels good on my sore hand.
I get back upstairs, stick the beef in the microwave to thaw and pull out the tacos.
Bridget is being fussy. Now she doesn't want me to put her down, which makes cooking one handed difficult. So I pull up Pandora on the ipad and set it to Raffi to see if the music will cheer her up and get her distracted with dancing so I can cook dinner. It works and she starts bending her knees bopping up and down to some silly song.
My thigh vibrates again so I pull my phone out and realize I have two text messages.
The first is from our graphic designer, who has been designing our new wine labels. We open our winery back up for its second season in 3 weeks and we have a very tight timeline getting our labels finalized, printed and bottled on our new wine releases. Although I normally put work aside this time of day, I open her text since I had been expecting to receive the final artwork from her earlier that day and hadn't received it yet.
"So there's an issue," the text says.
I sigh to myself and respond with, "uh-oh."
Axel comes running into the kitchen then. He isn't wearing pants, but his shirt is extra long, so I decide for the moment I am going to let it go until I can find out what the issue is with the labels.
Apparently the issue was with one of the images we had chosen, which we had spent days lamenting over and had finally come to an agreement. Great.
Bridget is getting fussy again and now standing by the refrigerator swiping her hand across her belly, saying "Eeeee. Eeee." Sign language for "please" along with her verbal interpretation. This usually means she wants milk, so I get her a sippy-cup.
My phone vibrates three more times while I do this.
I remember I had a text from someone else earlier and check that first. It's from my neighbor, who is getting married in 4 days. She is doing a wine themed wedding and I told her I would loan her a few "wine" things from our collection.
"I forgot to come get corks from you! Can I stop over in the next half hour to pick them up?" her text message reads. She had sent it about 10 minutes ago.
I look at the other texts coming through from our designer who is sending me different variations of artwork for the label. Knowing we are on a tight deadline and that she is working on this now, I know I have to respond to give her some direction on where to go with this.
"I want milk, Mommy, I want milk. I want milk." Axel repeats while tugging on my leg. Bridget is now standing on a stool playing with the taco box on the counter. She is intrigued by the shiny cellophane the soft taco shells are wrapped in.
"Axel, go get your pants on first, please." I tell him. Getting him to wear pants is probably the #1 struggle right now.
I politely text back my neighbor and say that it is a little chaotic and now might not be the best time. I feel bad because I know what it is like being a bride 4 days away from your wedding day and trying to get all the details finalized.
The microwave dings and the meat is thawed. I decide to put the freezer pack back in the freezer because I am too busy to keep it on my hand anyway. Opening the freezer is like opening a treasure chest for my kids. Both kids toddle over, totally intrigued. Is it the cold, the lights, the food? What is it about a freezer? Maybe just because it is on their level and they want to explore what's inside. Bridget wants to pull things out of the freezer and Axel doesn't want to shut the door, so I struggle for a few moments trying to occupy them with something else so I can close the freezer door without them making a fuss.
My phone rings now. It's Aaron. He usually calls on his way home from work from his "regular" job. Usually to discuss dinner and what is on the docket that night. There is always something to do out in the winery or the vineyard or the construction site for the new building, especially as we get closer to opening. He asks if Nick is there and I tell him yes. I tell him I am making tacos for dinner. "Should we invite Nick in for dinner?" Aaron asks.
There was a time when my husband asking me at 5:15 if it's okay to set another place at the dinner table would have bothered me. But now it is second nature. And because I am Superwoman, I said "yes, of course." I can barely manage putting food on the table for my family, but YES, honey, let's invite another adult male in for dinner.
I get out the frying pan. Opening the cabinets sparks the kids curiosity. Axel starts digging in the utensil drawer and pulls out some grilling tongs. These days he is interested in anything but his toys and instead opts for random household items. A corkscrew kept him occupied for half an hour a few days prior, so I am curious to see how long the burger tongs will last. Bridget goes for the spice drawer. She like to pull out the jars and toss them on the floor.
"Axel, get some pants on please," I say as I fry up the meat.
I realize I haven't responded to the designer, so I quick take out my phone and flip through the photo texts she sent. Nothing like trying to make a major branding decision on the fly and by looking at images through text.
"The first one." I respond via text after looking at 4 of them.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Axel is standing over by Bridget trying to grab things with the burger tongs. Some tupperware that has been pulled out of the bottom cabinet, probably by Bridget.
I continue getting stuff out for dinner--cheese, lettuce, salsa...
Bridget suddenly shrieks and I quickly realize it is because Axel has tried to grab her head with the hamburger tongs. I pick her up to comfort her, while removing the tongs from his hands explaining that it's not okay to do that.
"Sorry, Bridgey," he says.
I ask him again to go get some underwear and pants and I tell him that I will help him put them on. I don't see if he does because Bridget is still crying in my arms and lunging towards the spice drawer in which she was just "playing." Trying to figure out what she is so upset about, I look in the drawer and see that her sippy cup of milk is lodged in the drawer between the spice rack. The top has popped off and the drawer is filled with milk.
I get her a new cup to calm her down before removing all the spice jars from the drawer so I can wipe up all the spilled milk. While I am doing that, I see Axel, who never left to go get pants during this fiasco, clench up. He looks up at me, teeth clenched and his lower lip spread out and I can tell his whole body is tense. I know this look. He is squeezing the cheeks of his bum.
"I have to go poopy," he says calmly and quietly while taking short steps to try and walk to the bathroom.
"Okay! Go quick, Axel!" He moves as a little faster towards the bathroom, but just as he's leaving the kitchen, I see something fall from his bottom.
Yes. That happened.
I hesitate for a minute wondering if I should go help him first or clean up what he just left on the floor. I opt for the latter since Bridget is walking around the kitchen now and the last thing I need is my toddler picking up a piece of poop. When I reach for the paper towels, I notice I had just used the last one to clean up the milk mess, so I go to the pantry to open up a new package so I can clean up the next mess.
I turn the heat down on the meat and go to help Axel clean up and get pants back on.
He now insists on wearing not one, but two pairs of underwear. The boxer brief style for 3 year olds. I briefly try to explain what "under" wear means, but then decide not to fight that battle. At least he's now wearing pants. He also picks out a pair of shorts to put over his two pairs of underwear. It is 55 degrees in Minnesota afterall.
"Can we go play outside?" he asks cheerfully as I am helping him pull on his shorts.
I fear a tantrum will ensue with my negative response, so I choose my words carefully, "Not right now, Sweetheart, because we are going to eat dinner and I have a special job for you!" He perks up at the sounds of that.
Back in the kitchen, Bridget is content, so I pull a step stool up to the stove and let Axel pour in the taco seasoning and water into the meat. Bridget wants some action too, so when he is done, I let her stand up there and "stir" the meat.
"Day-Oh" comes on the Pandora. We are dancing and singing "Daylight come and me want to go home" when Aaron walks in the door. The scene he walks into makes it look like I have everything under control and we are just happy go lucky. Bridget is happily at the stove cooking.
He greets the kids with hugs and because he is Superman, he goes into the bedroom in his business casual clothes and returns 20 seconds later in his grubby work clothes. He heads outside to chat with the construction guys and see the progress from that day, and to tell Nick to come join us for dinner.
When he comes back in, I am setting the table. Aaron tells me Nick declined dinner. I mean, I don't know why. Why would a quiet single guy not want to eat a boxed meal with a bunch of crazies?
After getting the kids seated at the table, I realize I have everything out...except the taco shells. I ask Aaron to help me look for them. Last I remember seeing them, Bridget was playing with the cellophane bag. So we spend a good 5 or so minutes searching for the tacos. Aaron is snorting at me-- half laughing, half annoyed wondering how I managed to lose the taco shells. We check the bathroom, the bedrooms, under the table, anywhere she may have wandered off with them.
I find them eventually in the freezer. She must have slipped them in there during the freezer fiasco. So I spend a few more minutes thawing them out, while the kids are squawking at the table.
Bridget put all the taco lettuce on top of her head during dinner, so I declare it bath night. Especially after Axel's performance that evening. And then routine as usual--jammies, playtime, and stories before bed. Aaron heads back out to do some work out in the winery.
Just as I am about to close the door to Axel's room after giving him a hug and kiss goodnight I hear him say, "But Mommy, you forgot to say prayers!"
Well I can't forget that, can I?
And so I go back in and kiss his forehead one more time and in his sweetest little voice, he recites his prayer.
I shut the door and go back to the office to see if the graphic designer has emailed over final versions with the new image she texted earlier so I can see a better mock-up of it on the computer.
"Woof!" I hear just as I sit down at the computer. "Woof!"
The dogs! I forgot I put the dogs outside before I picked up the kids! They've been outside all night and their kennel area is right outside the office door. So I get back up, walk to the garage where we have their dog door and let our two miniature horses back in the house. It rained earlier that day, so they track muddy paw prints all over the hardwood floor. They are excited to come back in and immediately head to the kitchen table to see if there are any remnants leftover from taco dinner. Tux, our male dog, whose head can rest comfortably on top of the dining room table, licks a piece of meat off the table, which reminds me that I still need to clean the table from dinner. I realize they are probably hungry, so I put food in their dog dishes. 6 cups each. Then I search for a rag to wash the paw prints off the floor--I find a wet one, which I think was the same one I used to wipe up Axel's pee prints just a few hours earlier. Even though I really don't want to do it now, I do it anyway because it is easier to wipe up paw prints when they are still wet. When I go to throw it back into the hamper by the laundry machines, I see the hamper is pretty full, so I start a load of darks. I think Axel may be short on underwear anyway, so want to make sure he has enough clean clothes for tomorrow. It is now about 8:20 and I am just sitting down at the computer again and I see I have about 4 new emails that have been sent that night from the contact form our our website. I see subject lines with "tours", "gift certificates", "donations request" and "Schram Vineyards private tastings" when my phone vibrates. A phone call.
It's Staci, one of our lead employees. We had been emailing back and forth earlier in the day about the upcoming training and picnic we are doing this coming Sunday for all our employees. She has been a lifesaver and has picked up a lot of responsibility that Aaron and I haven't been able to manage. Staci wants to run a few things by me that she has put together---our policies, our new opening and closing procedures, information on the history of our vineyard, etc. We talk through it for about a half an hour. While I am on the phone with her, I see the email from the graphic designer with the updated wine labels come through. They look great! I hold the phone with my shoulder listening to Staci while quickly typing a response to the graphic designer to give her the thumbs up on the labels. I need her to package up the files so I can send to the printer and hoping I can catch her while she is online so she can do it right away.
As I am finishing up my call with Staci, I am pacing the office when I see a little face glimmering in the hallway. It's Axel, peeking around the corner from his bedroom with a big smirk on his face. It's about 8:45pm.
"Axel, get in bed." I say holding the phone away from my face. "What are you doing out of bed?"
"But, Mommmmy," he says. He knows how cute he sounds when he draws out his words. "I'm poopy."
SERIOUSLY? I don't say, I think it. But seriously, how many times does a 3 year old poop in one evening?
So I get off the phone with Staci, who's been listening to this interaction, so I can get Axel cleaned up and back into bed. Hopefully this time for good.
As I am closing the door to his room- again - Aaron comes in from the winery. It's 9pm. He's carrying 6 sample bottles of wine taken from the tanks and a graduated cylinder.
It's wine sampling night. And although it is "work", this is just what the doctor ordered tonight. Basically, we need to decide on the final wine blends for the wine labels that were just finalized. We'll be bottling them in just a few weeks and need to get it right! Tonight, we try a few variations of our new white wine and our rose. We have a pretty good idea of which varietals we will use in each of them, but need to figure out percentages, and see how the wines react to each other, if they need sweetening, etc.
We spend about an hour and half tasting and trialing different variations and finally land on a few blends we think are winners. We decide we'll try them with another panel of wine tasters soon before we make it final. I am feeling excited about our new wine releases. And also a little buzzed. It's about 10:45 and time to hit the hay. But not before I forget to switch the laundry. I remind Aaron he needs to take the garbage out because the truck comes by 7am the next morning.
Shortly after midnight I hear crying. And apparently Aaron does too because he kicks me under the covers. This is our signal to each other that "it's your turn to get up." And because I am Superwoman, I get up. I sit up for a moment in bed listening to determine which bedroom the crying is coming from and realize it is Bridget. She doesn't get up at night much these days, but something must have woken her up tonight. I sleep walk into her room, lift her out of her crib and we cuddle on the cushy chair in her room and she stops crying immediately. We both fall asleep in an awkward chair sleeping position. Sometime before 1am, I put her back in her crib to sleep. I guess all she needed was a cuddle and I am happy to indulge her with that. I go back to bed with a crick in my neck from sleeping sideways in a chair.
At 5am, Axel crawls into our bed. Fortunately, he falls back asleep for about an hour and a half. At 6:30, I feel his hand on my shoulder and I open one eye to see his little face about an inch away from mine, his head tilted. In his sweetest little whisper he says, "Mommy, can I have a breakfast bar?"
So I get up to get him some breakfast.
Because I am Superwoman. And ready to take on another day....just like the day before.