Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life in the Tundra

Yesterday was a delightful day of watching snow swirl around and blow. In fact the last couple of days have been good for that. It inspired me to clean the slime and snot off the windows so I could actually see through them and out to that gorgeous white lawn. We received about 20 inches- or first good solid dumping of the season.

Today we needed a change, and so ventured out of the house to the store, not in the tradition of the my Southern heritage, "oh I need something from the store or I'll starve cause it's snowing outside" but in the Northern heritage of, "Oh, the Bible School is out of milk and the husband volunteered for the job but doesn't have time to do it." I must say for ya'll down in warmer climates I'm sure 20 inches would have kept you in for weeks, but this morning, my driveway had been plowed for the second time and the main roads had zero snow on them. Oh...and we have car inspections, so my tires have tread and so do everyone else's. I get it.

So, I bundled up the kids- actually they mostly bundled themselves, ate breakfast, and found all the appropriate boots and coats. Then I made them all go back and change clothes because 4 out of 6 were wearing the same clothes as they were on Monday and the rest of the week. We finally got everyone properly dressed and loaded into the van where I discovered that Joseph still didn't put a jacket on. Back into the house to get a jacket in case we got stranded in our car on the side of the road buried under a pile of snow 8 feet tall (cause that's how much it would take to bury our van) and then off to town. It only took us one hour and 15 min. to get ready and most of that really was spent with me going to the bathroom and trying to reach my shoes...after all, I am pregnant. We had three goals: get milk, pick up some ingredients for a pot luck offering for the weekend, and go to the library to pick out books. Oh...and don't kill the kids.

Our first stop was the grocery store where we normally shop. Really, I'm not sure why the other three grocery stores even stay in business. There is such a difference in prices between this one and the others. I estimated one time that a list of groceries that cost me $160 at store A would have cost $200 at least at any of the other stores! Anyway, we were there. I pulled into the only proper spot for a pregnant woman with 6 kids and a large bus- the spot in between the plow's snow hill and the buggy return. Actually it was pretty sweet cause there weren't two complete spots plowed there, only about 1 1/2. So we gladly took up the entire space. Ah...if you don't use a large van on a regular basis you have no idea how glorious it is to have space on BOTH sides of the vehicle to exit AND not have to squeeze into a shape similar to a diet size slice of cucumber to get out of the car. I opened my door all the way stepped my big preggo self out onto the ground and then spaciously walked around and opened both side doors to let the ants out of the hill to mill around and scavenge for food.

We'll say this was one of the better trips to the store. People stopped and stared. They always do. And really, I think I would too, but it was mostly happy stares. I grabbed a buggy from the stall, plopped Renna in her light pink poofy coat in the baby seat and then shoved it through the slush to the door. My train followed faithfully behind. If we didn't look like a circus parade, we'd be a cute family. The older three boys each have jackets of a different bright color. That way when I want to point them out to someone I can say, "Hey! Can you swat the one in the blue? Thanks!" So red, green, blue marched forward. Then came Rachel in her purple striped shirt, light pink quilted handmade skirt (which I sewed for her back when I magically was able to create time for something like that), brown leggings, white footies, white sneakers, and a fuchsia sweater jacket. This was not one of her better coordinated days. Joseph tramped along behind her with his jacket unzipped, freezing, sucking his fingers and...THAT BOY put on the pants he wet yesterday! GREAT...I still missed one back at the dressing ordeal- oh well. So our train went into the store, up and down the isles, stopping at the few items we needed to pick up.
I really must apologize to all the other customers in the store. I know we made their shopping experience take ever so much longer due to the stare factor. I actually started looking around to see if there was a sign posted saying: Make way for the big lady with all the kids...and don't shop when she's on your isle. Cause, really every time we turned down an isle to get milk or white chocolate chips or other food item, life completely stopped all around us. Whether there were 2 or 20 other people on that isle, as soon as we got there they all froze and maintained complete silence as we walked by, got our stuff and moved on. Once I actually went back to the previous isle just to be sure the people started moving again. I mean I would hate to cause a permanent frozen state in others. Sure enough they were back to their business. It was a handy thing for us. I mean...if no one else is shopping then it's easier to get stuff and get out. The store clerks on the other hand ran the other direction. The one I tried to get to find some blueberries acted like he was deaf. And another when he saw me coming actually pulled out a newspaper and began reading while walking the other way as if he wasn't a sales clerk! They weren't mean, just careful to avoid all possible interaction with that crazy woman who brought the day care out for a field trip.
The kids were a big help though. We needed 13 gallons of milk and I didn't have to lift a single one. They didn't play bumper cars too many times, and Renna only unloaded my purse once. We even made it out without having to visit the bathroom- which is the first time I think since #3 has been potty trained that we have NOT had to use the facilities in the grocery store. Perhaps we should have cake for dinner and celebrate this small accomplishment.
Anyway, they loaded the belt at the cashier, loaded the cart with the bagged groceries, AND managed to stay together all the way back to the car. Since I was button-popping proud of their behavior I handed them all a chocolate cupcake with valentines frosting on top as a snack when we got in. That was a big hit and I'm now, for the time being on the "awesome mama" list. At least until I tell them to clean up their rooms today. That was a great distraction for the second store I went to where I left them all in the car for about 5 minutes to buy one item and come back. So glad I can trust them for a little while! It's unbelievably freeing!
Stop number three was the library- by far the most exhausting one. For starters the parking isn't nearly as divine. We ended up parallel parked on the street where the snow hadn't been cleared away completely. So, too bad I couldn't get to that parking meter to put my change in...I would have, you know. As it was, I had to step one foot into the plowed line of snow to get out of the car- only up to my knee of course. And then I hung on to the rear view mirror to get around the front without toppling over into the bank. The kids got out into the street and I discovered Renna had really enjoyed her cupcake. Jonathon appropriately warned me, "Mama, Renna looks like she's had 15 lunches and no manners at any of them." Now her coat is in the washer and I hope it comes out without plastered chocolate and red sprinkles on it. Fortunately I scrounged around and located a sad roll of paper towels and used water from my water bottle to smear around the cake mess. At least it was more like a facial glow than polka dots then. We trotted into the library with our purple book crate, 6 kids, and the cake crumbs trailing behind. It's actually good that we had to walk a ways to the door cause that way most of the crumbs were knocked off before we got to the quiet, clean, always act like adults library. In we went and up two flights of stairs to the children's section. They have an elevator, but the kids were in front and far be it from me to make them come back to ride it, so I limped up the stairs as well with Renna on my hip like some old woman that should have come in her wheelchair. We picked out books and played with the library toys- this place has AWESOME toys. In fact, the kids really never want to come for the books. They just want to play with the 4 foot dollhouse and the trains- which we have at home and they get bored of! I called a bit of the adventure there "school" because I did technically explain the numbering system to Jonathon while he was trying to find the non fiction sections relating to pirates, boats, vikings, and dragons. Totally counts!
After about 3 seconds Jeff had his required 3 books and went to play. The rest of the kids followed suit eventually, but after each child gets 3 books and Mama finds a small stack she thinks they will like that purple crate is heavy! I think we had almost 30 books picked time to go.
Somewhere in there, I took one child to the bathroom and made the other wait. Why can't they want to go at the same time? I don't know...but there is a law- I'm convinced.
Down the stairs we stomped. Really, I'm not sure if there is any hope of us not distracting all the other patrons in the library- ever. While we checked out, I added another to the bathroom list, Renna tried to slam her fingers in the door and wailed, Joseph used the chair cushions in the lobby as trampolines, and Rachel attempted to read the words on the welcome sign at the top of her lungs to all who would listen. I bet the librarians had a party of silence when we finally left.
Now we are home, everything is inside and mostly put away, Renna is busy unfolding all the paper napkins, some of the kids have been outside to play, and the bathroom is available to all who want to use it. Oh, and I think Joseph did eventually change his pants. I did ask him to anyway- at least twice. Same shirt, but you know...some battles just aren't worth it.
So...from 8:30 to 12:30 our entire focus was one stop at the grocery store and a 30 minute stay at the library, with a quick grab at another place. It probably wouldn't have taken that long by myself, but it wouldn't have been nearly as interesting and I wouldn't have bothered to share it with you.

Now off to figure out dinner...mac n' cheese anyone?

1 comment:

Aaron said...

This brings back memories of years gone by when my mom would regularly cart the six of us, all born in a span of eight years, to the local Shaw's. People didn't stop and stare so much, at least that I remember; they just all -- and I mean all -- asked, "Are they all yours?" And then there were the visits the library, when each of us checked out a gigantic stack of books and the accompanying parent paid the inevitable late fees. In our house, getting your library card (you were allowed at age 6, I think) was a rite of passage into the next level of childhood. Good times. Good post. :)