They promptly moved all of the furniture from our family room in to our kitchen, effectively blocking the dishwasher and pile of dirty breakfast dishes, before ripping up the 10-year old carpet and padding.
While Charlie set about disassembling our bed and moving our furniture in to the garage, I corralled our children in to the nursery and set about getting everyone dressed.
Within minutes, the house was full of dust.
I knew that we needed to get out. It's not like the kids could run around and play, what with a construction crew milling about, exposed staples from the carpeting sticking up out of the floor, and airborne mold. The pickle in my plan was that Charlie needed to stay at home to move furniture, supervise the contractors and interface with the dishwasher repairman ... if and when he showed up.
Within the past few days, I've determined that my options when going out by myself, with 3 2.5-year olds ... at 35-weeks pregnant ... are somewhat limited.
I could go to the park. But, then again, I don't want to be chasing the kids around, when I have to go to the bathroom and since that's a constant - this was not a good choice.
I could go to the zoo. But, then again - refer to comment above.
I could go to Sea World. But then again - refer to comment above.
I could go to the store. But then again - refer to comment above.
I could call one of my friends and see about going over to their house. But then again, the only friends that are in close proximity are all working during the day.
My only other option was whittled down to sitting in the car.
Unless, I did something brave and daring.
Like, say, take the children to see a movie.
Considering the kids love movies and we'd be there at 10 AM, mid-week, this seemed like an excellent solution. Especially since I'd heard great things about Shrek the Third. The only other time we took the kids to a movie, it didn't go over so well. But then again, they would have enjoyed it much more, had that huge fish with huge teeth not come swimming out of the IMAX screen in 3-D, scaring them to pieces.
That's how I convinced myself, despite Charlie's anguished looks, as I loaded the children in to the car and set off for the movie theatre. I convinced him "Trust me. Everything will be fine!"
When we arrived at the theatre, the kids were perfect. They all held hands as we crossed the parking lot and they stood peering up at the ticket taker, with angelic little faces as I told him they were "two years old" and he informed me that their admittance was free of charge.
This was going to be even better than I thought!
While we waited for our show to start, I let the kids play in the arcade. After they were thoroughly worn out from driving the Tokyo Cop and flying the Star Wars Spacecraft, we all held hands, walked over to the concession stand, and ordered our popcorn.
That's when things started to go a little awry.
Elizabeth took off in one direction and tried to climb on to the life-size Simpson's characters, while Carolyn took off in the other direction and tried to climb on some silver surfer character. Both of which clearly had signs that read "NO TOUCHING!"
William, meanwhile, was on the floor in front of the concession stand trying to eat popcorn, hands free.
I herded the children back together and we made our way in to the theatre, as they were jumping up and down trying to grab at the bag of popcorn while yelling "Mommy, POP! POP!"
When I opened the door to the theatre, the previews were already showing, the music was booming - and all three of the kids burst in to tears.
Screaming, I tell you.
With my overflowing bag of popcorn in one hand, I used an arm to hoist up William and another arm to hoist up Elizabeth ... while walking forward and pushing Carolyn in front of me as popcorn fell on her head.
The overwhelming feeling that if I didn't find my way to a bathroom STAT I would wet my pants. Right there.
So, I turned around and with my arms full of screaming children - and pushing Carolyn in front of me - exited the theatre and quickly found my way in to a restroom.
And a big, glorious, spacious handicap restroom stall.
As I took my seat - all the while chanting "Icky! Icky! Dirty!!" - I was momentarily in a state of bliss, until Elizabeth walked over and opened the latch on the restroom door, causing it to swing wide open. Exposing me, in all my glory, on the porcelain throne.
Holding a bag of popcorn.
Luckily, there weren't too many people at the theatre on a Wednesday morning. Just a few dozen women from a local senior center - catching a matinee - who happened to have incontinence issues. Just like me.
Finishing my business, nodding "hello" to the scores of women in the restroom, and making a speedy exit ... we returned to the theatre.
With Elizabeth leading the way, and everyone now free of tears, we walked up to the very last row. The kids took their seats and I handed them their popcorn. Everything seemed to be under control, but within a few minutes, I realized that the kids were too small to sit in the theatre seats and were quickly folded up like tacos.
Before the feature presentation began, they were trotting up and down the aisle. They'd take a quick break to eat a handful of popcorn, take a sip of water, and then, they were off again. Carolyn took pause at one point to tell me, in her piercing little voice, "Mommy!! Whim go POO-POO!!"
We lasted approximately 45 minutes before the kids wanted to run up and down the stairs and eat Skittles off the sticky floor. For 10 minutes, I gave a gallant effort at chasing them, but when I found myself standing in front of the entire theatre, inches away from the big screen, I decided to cut my losses and go home.
Home. To a house that is still on 3/4 painted.
Home. To a house that is in absolute shambles.
Home. To a house with one functioning toilet, because our second one broke while I was out.
I wish I could give a review on the movie, but I honestly have no idea what it was about. The only time I was able to look at the screen was when baby ogres were crawling all over the place and Shrek began screaming. I think he might have been having a nightmare.
I think I'm having a nightmare, too.
If only I could wake up.