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My dh had an elders meeting at church tonight which left me to take Sam to baseball practice and Caleb to his game at roughly the same time.  I thought I could handle this well since dh told me that both of these took place in the same set of fields.

Arriving at 5:45 p.m. anywhere with my six kids is like running a half-marathon.  It requires a rushed dinner complete with lots of “Get your shoes on!”, “Where are your socks?”, “Do you have your glove?”, “Put your coat on!”  Of course Sam couldn’t find his coat and while I was helping him put on someone else’s coat he behaved like a newborn infant (read: he was no help).  I was delighted when it was clear we were all buckled in and wouldn’t be late.

Then I started the car and remembered that the last time I had driven my Yukon XL the gas tank was nearly empty.  I had been in a big hurry to leave to go out of town at the time.  I wasn’t surprised when the “low on gas” light came on.  I was surprised, however, when the number of miles left in my ‘range’ was just ‘LOW.’  And why was my car behaving like it was just barely surviving on fumes?  Last I remembered I still had 55 miles left.  Then I remembered that my nieces, who’d been watching the kids while we were out of town, had the brilliant idea to go to the grocery store with my five kids.  The 17yo who’s had multiple accidents drove.  And apparently didn’t mind running my gas tank down to fumes.

I prayed that I would make it to the gas station without getting stranded and I made it.  We filled up ($75!!!!) and dropped Caleb off at his game on time.  Dh had told me that Sam could easily walk from where Caleb’s game was to his practice.  It looked like it was at least a half mile — I couldn’t see the practice field — so off we went to drop off Sam.  I drove around the parking lot looking for a way to drive through to the practice field.  I didn’t see one immediately, so I drove out of the parking lot and back to the practice fields using the long route that I knew.  No problem.  We arrived in time for Sam’s practice, but no one was there. Was it cancelled?  It was cold and a little sprinkly.  We were there a little before 6 and then I remembered that Sam’s practice doesn’t start until 6:15 p.m.

So we waited until more people arrived before we left.  I called a friend on her cell phone during our wait period since she was at the game.  Trying to talk with all the noise in the background was impossible.  I told her I’d talk with her at the game.  On the way back to Caleb’s game, I was determined to find the way through from the practice fields to the game fields.  I was delighted to discover that the field was close and there was parking close by.  There were the kids in green and gold.  I got the older kids unbuckled and I instructed the 6yo to hold hands with the toddlers.  Before I got the baby and diaper bag out a pickup truck comes racing by right in front of them.

I let the stress of that drain out of me and grabbed the baby in his car seat and the diaper bag.  I hadn’t brought a stroller because I figured I would be rolling it over grass fields and I wouldn’t have far to walk.  I didn’t grab the chairs dh had popped into the car for me since I could see that the bleachers were wide open.  We made our way over to the field and I gladly put the baby down, weary from carrying my buster boy.  I started searching for my friend with the long, bleach-blonde hair that’s so hard to miss.  Nope.  Not there.  In fact, as I looked around I didn’t see anyone that I knew.  I looked up at the field number.  It was 10, not the 3 we were looking for.

It was back to the car with everyone.  Halfway back to the car, another friend who also has a son in practice and a son in the game sees me and says she’s driving to the game.  She asked if I needed a ride to the practice field and I told her no, my car is right there.  I figured we’d just be driving through a parking lot to the game so I tell the kids, “You don’t have to buckle up.”  You would have thought I just announced it was Christmas in April.  They were thrilled.

I started making my way through the next parking lot area, looking for a way through to the next group of fields.  Somehow I found myself driving on a gravel, single-lane road between two fields.  I was sure that my friend had gone this way.  I became less sure as little children darted in front of my vehicle and the large Gatorade container and sets of bleachers made it impossible for me to squeeze the Yukon through.  I decided to back up while trying to avoid more darting children.  The stress of trying to avoid killing small children with my huge Yukon was compounded by having the eyes of every baseball player on the field looking at me as if to say, “What on EARTH are you doing?”

I got out of that trap and began to look for another way through to the game field with no luck.  Finally, I decided to take the long route that I know.  There was nowhere safe to stop to buckle the kids once we were driving on main roads.  From the back I heard, “I’m not buckled!” coupled with delighted giggles.  The kids were behaving like they were in a bounce house as I got ready to make a turn right in front of a police car.  I screamed at the kids to SIT DOWN!  Fortunately, I was not pulled over.  However, I then became certain that I would have a car accident.  You always have an accident when you’re not prepared.  Thankfully, I did NOT have an accident.  We arrived back at the parking lot where I had dropped Caleb off.

I drove around looking for a good parking spot.  I had no idea how far a walk it was going to be to Caleb’s field.  I called my friend’s cell, but this time she didn’t answer.  I choose a spot right behind center field where a bunch of teenage boys were playing.  Right above my windshield was a sign that said, “Not responsible for damage to cars.”  The way my evening was going, I decided to move my car.  Once again, I got everyone out of my car and carried the baby and bag toward where I hoped Caleb’s field was.  I was so happy that it was not far.  The friend who told me she was driving to the game said she’d parked in the last parking lot and walked over.  Oh.

The bleachers were packed and it was impossible to talk with my friend.  By this time it was absolutely freezing.  I had put my baby in the car seat with a thick blanket and a blanket car seat cover.  One of the grandpas commented that he needed a hat on.  I tried to keep him covered, but he seemed to be fine.  Then he started crying.  I hadn’t thought about having to take him OUT of the car seat.  He had no coat or hat on.  I felt like moron mother as I tried to comfort him and keep a blanket around him the whole time.

My kids then started chanting, “I’m cold.  I want to go home.  Can’t we get something from the ‘cession stand?” I asked the people standing there, “How long does the game last?”  They said, “Two hours.”  I wanted to cry.  The grandpa who was concerned about my baby’s body temperature offered to bring Caleb home.  That was nice, but I figured by the time I got Sam, whose practice only lasted an hour, I’d be ok.  The kids entertained themselves by repeatedly pulling my expensive health-food-store snacks out of the diaper bag and eating them.  Meanwhile, the baby was screaming and I sat down and tried to nurse.  He decided he didn’t want to.

The good news is the kids got beat so badly (11-1) that they ended the game early.  The bad news was my friend who had a son at the practice was gone picking up Sam for me.  The game was over and we had to stand there shivering for another 20 minutes.  I envied the woman with the stroller covered with blankets and the people who had sense enough to bring GLOVES.  When my friend and Sam finally returned, my 3yo announced, “I have to go to the bathroom!”  Of course the bathroom wasn’t right next to us.  Fortunately, my friend offered to watch the rest of the kids while I took him.  My 3yo takes longer to go to the bathroom than the 90yo men I took care of in the nursing home.

We finally got back to the car, buckled up, warmed up and came home in time for me to make hot chocolate for everyone.  I’m so excited about baseball season!

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