Where Shopping is Not A Pleasure.

Editor’s Note: “Buggy” is the correct way to say “shopping cart”. I know that not all of you agree, but I cannot force myself to type shopping cart twenty-four times. That’s exactly 168 more characters than are needed. A character savings that I just lost with this explanation.

Publix

1:40pm: Walk through the parking lot of the grocery store, two kids trailing.  Not looking forward to what I know lies ahead, but at least I only need ten items.

Boy Child: “Can we get a race car buggy can we get a race car buggy can we can we can we??”

1:41pm: Locate giant and unwieldy race car buggy, attempt to steer it into the door, run into sides of door several times. Meanwhile, boy child is in a constant, panicked repeat of “Putmein!Putmein!PutmeIN!”

Because it’s so like me to want the most inconvenient, inefficient, drastically reduced capacity buggy – just to let him watch me push it.

1:42pm: Boy child is secured and driving happily. Head to the produce section.

1:44pm: Cannot find pesto. Why wouldn’t pesto be near the herbs and guacamole? But no. I have to ask the strawberry stocker, who explains that the pesto is on the aisle with the oranges.

Of course it is.

1:48pm: Boy Child begins demanding to get out of the buggy. The ridiculously insanely inconvenient buggy that I got just for him. I say what any mother would. No freaking way.

1:50pm: Need cauliflower. WHAT THE CRAP. Cauliflower is $3.99 a head? Nobody even likes cauliflower! I’m basically doing cauliflower a favor by trying to cook it into my recipe and fool my family into thinking it’s not cauliflower. I should get a community service credit, not have to pay nearly eight dollars for the amount of cauliflower I need!

So I find the biggest most beefy heads of cauliflower in the store to justify this insane expense.

1:55pm: Try to get down the pasta aisle. A woman wearing leggings as pants has parked her buggy in the EXACT center of the aisle, and is on the other end of the aisle comparing brands of spaghetti. Her purse is sitting open on the top, so moving her buggy may make me look like a thief.

I don’t like looking like a thief.

I try to maneuver around it, but The Architect of All Publixes designs their aisles to the exact width to never allow this.

She finally looks up and realizes her abuse, and moves her buggy so I can continue on.

1:58pm: Boy child ramps up his demands for freedom. I finally let him out, telling him to stay near me.

He does not.

Girl Child, meanwhile, has noticed that candy is in every conceivable spot that her eyes could land, and is asking for each individual item. It’s as if the store designer measured the fifty-three inch height of my daughter and constructed the entire store around her being able to see all available in the entire universe that includes High Fructose Corn Syrup.

2:00pm: Boy child hooks onto the side of the buggy to ride – since he’s tired of walking. Making my already impossible job of steering into an Elite Olympic Sport.

2:01pm: I try to get sour cream, but another stocker is in the way. And my sour cream isn’t there, despite his restocking. I move on, vowing to come back in hopes that he finds some. He never offers to help.

2:02pm: Girl child forlornly asks if she can ride on the side of the buggy like her brother.

2:03pm: Encounter second person that has left their buggy directly in the middle of the aisle – they are not visible, so I do the moving for them, then manage to not scrape Boy Child’s back while squeezing past. Or at least not scrape it so hard that it bleeds through his shirt.

2:05pm: Head back to the produce to get what I missed. Boy Child takes this moment at the loose leafy vegetables to remember that he has an impressively juicy cough.

He walks up to the vegetables and leans over them so that he has better trajectory.

“Do NOT cough on the lettuce!”

The entire produce section turns and looks.

2:06pm: Boy child begs me to put him back in the buggy. His legs are so tired.

2:07pm: I try to leave the produce section, but a THIRD person has parked their buggy in The Impossible Spot, and on one aisle over, the strawberry stocking lady has now knocked over her load of strawberries, making the entire produce section my own personal Alcatraz.

I finally find the one exit in this Human Maze of Hell.

2:08pm: Boy child is so desperate to ride now that he has crawled up under the buggy and is sitting in the under basket.

I instruct him to get up. AND WALK.

2:09pm: Both children now think that it is their responsibility to pull my buggy. They each grab opposite ends of the front of the buggy and pull in opposite directions, creating a ten-foot berth and distressed shoppers at every intersection.

2:10pm: I try to get to the sandwich meats. Yet another clerk is restocking. IT’S 2:10PM, Publix. Restocking the entire store should happen at 2:10AM.

2:11pm: This reminds me that I needed to check back in on the sour cream. Restocking is still happening, my brand is still out, but I stand there, awkwardly close to the stocker, attempting to get another variety, but alas – he has perfected the art of blocking every canister of sour cream at once.

I wait.

I wait.

I say, “Excuse me – I’m going to grab that sour cream. I was waiting to see if you had the light variety…”

He ignores me, not offering to check his stocking cart or even move so that I don’t have to brush up against his chest to retrieve my dairy product.

2:13pm: We finally head to the check-out line, where I begin taking notes on this Trip to Remember. Leggings as Pants walks up behind me as I’m writing about her superior aisle blocking abilities.

Meanwhile, Girl Child is still begging for every item she sees (“Why don’t we ever buy Apple Jacks? Can I have Swedish Fish? I sure would like some more chocolate…”)

And Boy Child is still begging me to put him back in the buggy.

I realize that I’m never going to make it to the car with him out of the buggy, so I put him in, telling him in no uncertain terms that he cannot get out until we arrive at our car.

So he begins to sit on the side of the buggy. To spite me. To make me wish I had a fork to eat my own eyeball.

Meanwhile, Leggings as Pants is asking me questions about how the sales work.

“If it’s 3 for $5, do I have to buy three, or can I buy one?”

I assure her she can buy as many or as few as her heart desires and still get the deal, but she turns to the cashier and asks again – in case I’m lying to her, obvs.

The cashier agrees with me.

BOOM.

2:20pm: Boy child is performing Pommel Horse on the side of the buggy, begging to get down.

2:21pm: The groceries are all finally bagged and paid for, the bagger does not offer to help me to my car and won’t even make eye contact, and I literally run out of the store, hoping that Girl Child can keep up and that Boy Child sticks his landing, if he does fall.

2:25pm: Load the groceries into the car, notice that the buggy return is one aisle over, attempt to get to it when the blasted behemoth of a buggy gets stuck under my rearview mirror. AND IS STILL NEARLY SCRAPING THE CAR ON THE OTHER SIDE. Not because I’m a bad parker but because this buggy is wider than a full-sized Hummer.

2:26pm: I squeal out of the parking lot, simultaneously mentally cursing Publix and creating a business plan to start a Grocery Delivery Company.

The Panty Incident.

So I was buying panties.

That’s how all good stories start, right?

Are You Being Served b

I was buying panties, and had just handed them to the store clerk to ring up. She looked down, had a spark of eureka come over her face, and I watched as my future panties lassoed a memory in that cashier’s mind and shoved it out of her mouth.

”OH – You will not BELIEVE what my daughter said to me this morning!”

Considering what she was just looking at, I was slightly skeptical as to my desire for her to continue, but said the polite thing anyway.

“Oh really? What?”

“She turned around and said, ‘Mom, can you see my panties through these leggings?’”

Panty Clerk then looked at me expectantly and incredulously, as if this was the most bizarre thing to ever come out of a child’s mouth. When I didn’t react with shock and confusion, she added,

“She’s only in ninth grade!!!”

I assume most ninth graders should be aware of panties and whether or not they are showing through their leggings, considering that my eight year old and I make sure that her dress covers her leggings in an appropriate way fairly regularly.

She was clearly unsatisfied with my lack of reaction, so continued her unbelievable story.

“AND YOU KNOW WHY SHE ASKED ME?! When I told her that they weren’t showing through and asked her why she wanted to know, she said, ‘Because I can’t wear them to school if you can see my panties through them.’ …CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?? She’s only in ninth grade and they have rules like that at school these days?!”

Now I was looking at her incredulously. But not for the reasons she assumed.

So she continued.

“So I said to her, ‘What? That’s a rule? But you’re only in ninth grade!’ And she said, ‘Yes, it’s the rule, Mom. I think I’m going to wear my jacket over them, just in case.’ And I said, ‘EVEN THOUGH you can’t see your panties??’ And she said, ‘Yeah, I think so.’ Can you believe that??”

I finally attempted to speak, to be the voice of reason, to add some much needed logic into a conversation where a Mom just admitted to trying to talk her daughter into wearing leggings as pants.

“Actually, it sounds like a pretty good rule to me….”

I watched her deflate like a football from New England, then she added,

“Well, I guess so. It’s just that she’s just in ninth grade!”

Because in 2015, Ninth Grade is the new Pre-K, y’all.

So. Lest we find ourselves in a situation similar to Disenchanted Panty Clerk’s, let’s all take a pact. Ready?

– If my daughter is encouraged by some other authority (or even friend) to not have visible panties, I hereby promise to affirm that effort and not be mortified that she would worry her little mind with such adult thoughts.

– When my daughter asks me The Big Question one day….”Mommy, are leggings pants?”, I will not hesitate. I will say NO.

(…Only if you’re running, honey.)

– Furthermore, if my daughter feels uncertain about taking part in the trend of wearing her bra as a visible accessory, I do hereby swear to not attempt to talk her into it, based on the fact that she’s just a kid and kids should be allowed to show their lace hot pink bra without anyone questioning it.

Because requesting that underwear stay underwear is not communism.

…And if I ever go back into that store, I’ll wear a T-Shirt screen-printed with that slogan.

A Christmas Story.

I hate that movie because it’s a train wreck. And I despise all train wreck movies – Ben Stiller and Chevy Chase are my nemeses.

Yet, I set myself up.

Saying that we needed to reorganize Christmas by illnesses, then post-scripting it with a “no really I’m just kidding – we’ll all be okay by Christmas day.”

Don’t ever say crap like that.

On Christmas Eve, Ali woke up with a stomachache. Moments after telling me this news, she proceeded to vomit profusely.

The bright side was that Chris was at work and I could shatter his Christmas Heart via text, so I didn’t have to actually witness the implosion of his hopes and dreams. Chris had gone into work at some unholy hour so that he could leave at 2:30 and proceed as quickly as possible with our Christmas paradise.

But no. It was destined that I would spend the morning running with my daughter to the bathroom, holding back hair, providing apple juice, and finding anything distracting for her to watch on television. All while attempting to keep her now-well brother un-bored with our couched state of affairs.

A friend suggested I get our doctor to call in dissolvable Zofran. “It’s a lifesaver”, she promised.

I called the doctor’s office. They sounded exactly like you’d expect people to sound who were seeing the world’s biggest outbreak of puking, flu, infected, nasty kids the day before Christmas. But they promised me they’d call it in.

Ali puked again. Which meant I now had a window. A small one, but a window indeed.

We gathered supplies in the attempt to make it to the pharmacy. A trash can, paper towels, and my car keys.

Right before we walked out, I thought it best to call the pharmacy and make sure they were ready for me. CVS is, after all, infamously annoying at calling me a dozen times to refill a prescription I don’t need or already refilled, but taking three days to fill a prescription when I actually need it.

“No, we don’t have any call-ins for her. I’m sorry.”

Ali was sitting by the stairs, already moaning again. I could see my window shrinking. I called the doctor’s office back. The receptionist yelled to the nurse, who yelled back.

“I called it in! I talked to a man. They have to have it.”

I whimpered, sounding exactly like Ali. Then called back my completely untrustworthy CVS.

“Hey! I’m glad you called back. We found it as soon as you hung up.”

You could’ve called me….but whatev.

I loaded the children and the economy-sized trash can and set out on Christmas Eve adventures, Ali moaning and Noah protesting.

“I wanna stay home!!”

Never mind that he’d been complaining all morning about being at home.

I did not, however, consider the proximity of my CVS to one of our city’s biggest shopping malls.

Traffic was stopped a mile from CVS.

Ali’s moans intensified. The puke-free window was barely a crack now – not even a fly could fit through.

We finally made it to CVS and it turns out the traffic wasn’t just for the mall. There was a line six cars deep at the CVS drive-thru.

There was no way I was taking an actively puking kid into the pharmacy – especially when any sort of jostling only sped up her condition. Yet I knew how long it takes one car to get through their drive-thru.

And there were six.

At five cars deep, Noah started screaming.

“I have to go to the bathrooooooom!”

Of course I’d forgotten to make him go before we left the house. I was much more concerned with his explosive sister.

“You’re gonna have to hold it.”

“Okay……AAAAAAH!! I NEEEDTOGONOW!!!”

I looked to the left. There was a CVS employee sitting out back smoking. Another walked out to join her. Cars in front of me, cars behind me – this was no time to pee outside.

So I texted my husband. Because you need a man to help solve this sort of problem.

CVS Line

I wasn’t a fan of the tire idea, but the water bottle idea wasn’t bad. And the Chick-Fil-A cup I found was even better – a bigger target.

“Noah – you’re going to have to pee in this cup.”

“NO!! I’ll wait till we get home. AAAAAAH! I NEEDTOGONOW!!!!”

And so, right there in full view of the two smoking ladies, I dumped the slightly moldy lemonade out the window, stood my son up, pulled down his pants, and told him to aim well.

I began to worry when I realized exactly how full his bladder was – The Yellow Lake inched nearer and nearer to the rim and I wasn’t positive that my son knew how to “cut it off” for a quick dump out the window.

But just as I thought it couldn’t hold any more without sloshing, he finished with a satisfied smile on his face.

And I dumped the cup out the window for the second time, as the CVS ladies gazed and smoked.

But not until after I sent a picture of the PeeCup to Chris (You’re welcome for cropping it out.)

CVS Line 1

Finally we made it up the the window. My introverted inhibitions had been stripped away by the whole public urination episode, so I said to the pharmacy tech,

“Holy Crap your job is awful today! I hope you’re using a lot of hand sanitizer!!”

She looked at me warily and a bit suspiciously, “I’m not personally using hand sanitizer…”

“Well you should! Your line is longer than the line at the mall!”

“Thanks for letting me know.”

Except she didn’t sound very thankful at all.

She gave us our Zofran and I ripped open the bag and gave the intensely whimpering Ali her first pill.

But alas, ten minutes later and LITERALLY ONE BLOCK FROM HOME,

she proceeded to loudly vomit in my car.

Thankfully, she had good aim.

That was at noon. And it was her last episode. So we called off our plans that evening (our traditional lasagna with my parents and other guests, hosted at our house), but tentatively kept our Christmas Day plans, with full disclosure to those involved.

Miraculously, Ali felt amazing by Christmas Eve night. We read the Christmas story, thanked God for Baby Jesus and stomach contents staying put, donned our Christmas pajamas, and had the magical night before Christmas (minus lasagna) that we needed.

IMG_0785R Square

The next morning was lovely, with both of the kids bright-eyed and excited and 100% healthy, reveling in the joy of Christmas day.

Ali Christmas

Noah Christmas

Christmas Mess

After all the presents had been opened, Chris and I ended up in the kitchen alone. I hugged him and said,

“You know, sometimes the happiest we can be is when we’ve just recovered from complete tragedy and uncertainty. We’re less stressed out and more thankful for Christmas than ever!”

He replied, “So you’re saying that true happiness is just north of misery?”

“Exactly. Merry Christmas, darling.”

He hugged me back.

We had our Christmas lunch with Chris’ family, then Christmas dinner with my family, all lovely and happy and not at all high-strung.

Christmas Joy

We put the children to bed, happily exhausted by the day’s bliss.

Until Noah awoke at 11pm….with croup.

Like the worst croup he’s ever had…to the point that I was texting my friends at midnight asking if I should take him to the ER.

We finally got it mostly under control, so I put him in bed with me and sent Chris to the couch (rather voluntarily, since he’s not a fan of being beaten by little people in his sleep), and I proceeded to try and get my son back to sleep.

He was not, however, sleepy.

I whispered CLOSE YOUR EYES AND GO TO SLEEP at least 6 billion times for what had to have been 48 hours straight before I finally realized what I needed to do.

I had to place myself in the most uncomfortable position possible.

I laid on my stomach next to Noah with Bob the Tomato’s plastic eyes shoved between my boobs and tearing into my ribcage, and Larry the Cucumber’s protruding eyes stabbing my appendix. It was a completely untenable position, and it was the miracle cure. He immediately fell asleep.

I waited, counting his deep breaths and watching for fluttering eyes, Finally, I felt it safe enough and pried myself away from the Veggies and went to sleep.

Until he began a calculated and strategic kicking assault. Just enough time between kicks for me to fall back asleep, kicks just hard enough to bruise my internal organs.

But we survived. And we got drugs the next morning. And he recovered. And we moved on.

Friday and Saturday were idyllic, containing zero plans and therefore having room for last minute runs and Zoolight Safari visits and plenty of time to play with new toys. Chris made a resolution to make zero plans in 2015, therefore minimizing the possibility for any future expectation shattering disappointment. Everyone was finally well, everyone was happy, everything was lovely.

After an especially beautiful family outing on Saturday where we ran as a family for the first time,

Run

and then visited the Botanical Gardens,

Botanical Gardens

we finished our fun by going to Mugshots for lunch – home of the best hamburgers in Birmingham.

They only had seating on the heated outside patio, so we bundled up and took it.

The kids continued their expulsion of energy, running around the table and such. Noah had his face and nose pressed up against the window banging it when we realized that the nice couple on the other side were staring and not at all amused.

“No more banging on the glass, son.”

They brought us our burgers and chicken and fries with zero silverware or napkins, so I tore Noah’s chicken into bigger chunks than usual, allowing it to cool off until I received a knife.

It took half of two forevers for her to bring us silverware, and by then I’d quite forgotten that Noah’s chicken needed more attention – and after all he was shoving his face quite efficiently, so he didn’t seem to need me.

Until he did.

He wasn’t taking the time to actually bite his chicken like a normal child – he was just shoving those giant hunks into his mouth, and one finally got the best of him.

He stood up in his chair and began choking. LOUDLY.

I ran over with a napkin and started pounding him on the back. Which is when he rewarded my outstretched hand with the entire contents of his stomach.

But somehow he was still choking?

He turned around, still standing in his seat, facing again the couple on the other side of the glass, hacking in grand, bubbly, piercing spasms.

And at the exact second, at just the right second, at the ideal place in the history of the world, the man turned around and stared at Noah.

Right as the contents of Noah’s second and third and apparently fourth stomach came spewing out of his mouth with more force than any movie’s CGI fake-vomit ever thought about having.

Chris threw the remaining napkins at me and I began mopping every surface.

And we began to laugh.

Great heaves of laughter that didn’t stop until we got to the car, and kept cropping up randomly throughout the day.

Because it’s true. If they really commit and get super ridiculous and completely unbelievable, train wrecks are absolutely hilarious.