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7 a.m. Reluctantly wake up. Survey bedroom. Half-folded laundry, abandoned to pay bills, is piled on floor. Half-paid bills, abandoned to pre-make kids’ lunches and ease the morning crunch, are piled by computer. Large, furry creature is draped across my feet (probably dog, but possibly husband; will make positive ID after inserting contact lenses). Let head fall back on pillow and close eyes.

7:01 a.m. Open eyes. Sadly, the scenery hasn’t changed. Berate self for getting distracted by American Idol last night and not making lunches and finishing laundry/ bills. Still, plenty of time for serene, Zen-like morning.

7:08 a.m. Hustle downstairs. Pour cereal into bowl, put bagels into toaster. Hear baby awaken. Race upstairs (counts as short cardio burst!) and put baby on hip. Put food on table and into dog’s bowl, taking special care not to mix up the entrees. Dog sniffs disdainfully at kibble and sends beseeching telepathic message: “Buy Snausages!”

7:15 a.m. Everyone is awake and eating breakfast. Will take a second to peruse the Style section of the paper.

7:40 a.m. What happened? Where has the time gone? Kids are still in pajamas, dog is gnawing on bagel, and brain is brimming over with celebrity gossip and useless, but nevertheless compelling Dear Abby advice. Instruct self to “Gather!” in fetching British accent, like Kate Winslet at Golden Globes. Note: It doesn’t sound as fetching when one is in sweat pants, as opposed to couture gown with plunging neckline and Leonardo DiCaprio beaming at me from the audience.

8:15 a.m. Propelled by the lifeblood that is caffeine, manage to make lunches and feed and dress baby while husband prods older kids to dress themselves. Hustle all three kids, dog and assorted backpacks into minivan at warp speed.

8:20 a.m. Oh, God. Forgot spelling test is today! Scour memory for words on spelling list and call them out at stop signs. Realize have no idea if kids are getting words right since I’m horrible speller myself. Also, have forgotten to groom self. Pull hair into ponytail, top it with baseball cap, and put on sunglasses at red light. Now look exactly like FBI sketch of the Unabomber.

9:30 a.m. Kids at school; baby napping. Carry baby’s car seat into house while doing bicep curls (check off strength training for day!). Time to work. Retrieve manuscript of my novel from minivan. Realize manuscript—which has been meticulously copy-edited by a professional in New York who debated the placement of every last comma—now sports a muddy paw print and pizza stains (fed kids in car last night on way to soccer practice). Plus, two pages are torn. Imagine copy editor donning latex gloves and Michael Jackson-style face mask before touching manuscript again.

9:35 a.m. Begin work. Get distracted by Facebook. Force self back to work. Get distracted by chocolate in pantry. Sternly instruct self to return to work. Wonder if self simply doesn’t feel like working or has Adult ADD. Abandon work to conduct investigation on Internet.

3:10 p.m. Arrive 20 minutes early at school to pick up kids. Baby, exhausted from hard work in playground sandbox, is napping in car seat. Dog, exhausted from hard work of menacing playground squirrels, is napping on front seat. Excellent; will do the work of 10 men in the blink of an eye. Park car and make business call. Baby awakens with a yell. Cradle cell phone in nook between shoulder and neck (Ouch! Must schedule chiropractor appointment!), nurse baby and make professional-sounding noises while brain randomly screams, “Buy Snausages!”

3:25 p.m. Baby releases enormous burp inches away from phone. Say, “It wasn’t me! It was the baby!” Editor on other end laughs in a way that sounds completely unconvinced.

5 p.m. Back home. Kids doing homework, baby bouncing in exersaucer. Recall Buddhist philosophy that the key to joy is doing one thing at a time and focusing on the moment. Retrieve clean dish from dishwasher. Stare at it lovingly before placing it in cabinet. Realize bit of hardened egg is clinging determinedly to dish, like a shipwreck survivor. Do not love egg scrap or dish, not one bit. Agh! Spaghetti boiling over on stove! Forgot was technically not doing one thing at a time. Buddhists’ revenge? But aren’t they supposed to be peaceful people?

8 p.m. Pile into bed with all three kids, husband and dog. Talk to older kids about their day. Laugh at antics of baby. Kiss kids goodnight and tuck them into their own beds. Realize, with all due respect to the Buddhists, these are the moments that lead to joy.

9 p.m. Laundry, bills and pre-making of lunches await. Will definitely get ahead tonight for once…

9:01 p.m. Ooh, The Office is on!

The Web site for Sarah Pekkanen’s debut novel, The Opposite of Me, scheduled for release by Atria Books in March 2010, is

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