Minivan Momologues

Here I am, trying to pound out a column while the repetitive thonk! of a pickax thumps in my ears.

Other power tools chime in, a drill and — is that a jackhammer? It goes without saying the dogs are barking their heads off. The other 270 dogs in the neighborhood feel compelled to join in. All music to my ears. You’re not gonna hear me complain, because all this commotion means hot water’s on the way.

It’s been cold-shower central for four days now. Brrrr-rific.

I’ve actually stopped bathing and resorted to swabbing my armpits with wet washcloths and calling it a day. Sorry, family, friends and fellow Target shoppers. But I’m no dummy — I’ve heard the squeals from the kids and oddly high-pitched yelps from the significant other each time they’ve cranked on the water and stepped into the tub.

Not fun. Neither is being forced to evacuate your home.

Allow me to ’splain.

It’s all my fault, really. I dared to — briefly, very briefly — revel in an afternoon when NO ONE NEEDED TO BE DRIVEN ANYWHERE. Absolutely positively nothing was happening on this particular weekday. So of course, that’s when things went south.

The landscapers — who up until this point had been doing a fine job transforming our backyard from bleak, barren moonscape into a pleasant place with actual plants — hit a gas line. As a precaution, we were kicked out of the house. I told the kids to quickly grab what they’d need for a few hours. This is what they carried out: water (smart), salted-caramel kettle corn (questionable nutritional choice but nonetheless a delicious snack), an honest-to-goodness book (Yay! No. 3 is finally reading voluntarily!) and … a basketball, which came in handy once we were allowed to stop squatting in the minivan and move into the yard.

When my husband came home and found the white utility trucks lining the street, he was not happy. But he got soooo lucky.

Had this not happened, the entire column would have been devoted to the tale of how he skipped off to Vegas with his buddies for five days and left his poor wife the sole, managing parental partner to deal with a Saturday that consisted of an all-day volleyball tournament in Phoenix, two playoff basketball games in Vail, three hours apart, and a birthday party as far west as you can drive without crossing state lines.

Yes, he’d much prefer being forcibly ejected from the house than have me share the dorky photos his friend texted that could be the basis for “The Hangover 5,” or whatever number that stupid movie series is on now.

But back to the evac. While the Crock-Pot gurgled away inside the house, shrinking dinner to Barbie-size, we went out to eat. Halfway through a very delish machaca chimi, the call came: The coast was clear.

Of course, the fun wasn’t over yet.

Any remaining gas had to get sucked out of our line by this massive, telescope-looking thing. I wanted to ask if we could hook it up to the dogs. Speaking of the four-legged beasts, they were incredibly enamored of the manure-smelling dirt in the yard. Some sort of chemical process occurs when natural gas escapes, but I can’t explain it to you because the gas company apparently hires its employees directly from the firefighting academy, and so I was, uh, a little distracted and heard only part of the explanation. Bottom line: Organisms died in the soil and made that dirt irresistible to our dogs, who scarfed it only to barf it back up onto the carpet. Six times.

Awesome day, all the way around.

So, anyway, I’d tell you more but apparently we have hot water again and, honestly, I’m feeling a lot ripe. Time to hit the showers.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. On Twitter: @kcookski. Cook is constantly amazed at how time flies: One minute, you’re newly engaged in Disneyland and the next, you’ve been married 20 years and have three kids. Ahem, consider this your heads up, Joe: Our anniversary is Wednesday. Forget the traditional gift of china. Your wife would prefer the modern-day present suggestion of platinum. Jewelry, por favor.