Thursday, August 28, 2014


You’d think I would have learned after the dreadful grocery trip, but no. I went on a Wal-Mart excursion the very next day. I only needed one thing—laundry detergent—so really, I could have had the hubster pick that up on his way home from work. Or I could have gone after the kids were in bed that night. Or we could have worn dirty clothes. Anything would have been better than what I chose to do, which was drag the kids along.

To make it more interesting for them, I decided to work a couple of fun little extras into our trip. One was letting Andy bring the money he had been saving up from his good behavior incentives to spend on the toy aisle, and the other was letting both boys get haircuts in the Wal-Mart salon. In theory, these ideas sounded great. I could imagine the big smiles from my freshly groomed sons, dressed in sparkling clean clothes, showing off their new purchases to Dad when he got home whilst telling him how lucky they were to have such a fun mama. 

Here’s what really happened:

Everybody and their sister was at Wal-Mart vying over the dwindling school supplies, so the parking lot was jam packed. That meant that we had to park way out by the Garden Center. Now, if you’re going to ignore my advice to never shop with children at all, at least heed this: Do not ever park near the Garden Center when you’re shopping with children. You'll see why later.

Since we had to pass the toy section on the way to the salon, we opted to take care of Andy’s “prize” first. We had counted his money prior to leaving the house, so we knew he had $2 and some change to spend. I just assumed I’d lead him to the little dollar section and he’d pick some random piece of junk he couldn’t live without. After all, he managed to find hundreds of treasures to beg for in that very section every time we came shopping. But not this time. This time, he already knew exactly what he wanted to spend his $2 on. He wanted a remote control airplane. 

For $2. 

I tried to explain to him that $2 was not enough to purchase a remote control airplane, but he refused to believe me. Even after I showed him multiple remote control toys—all with $20+ price tags—he still insisted we keep looking. Down every aisle. Twice. Just in case. 

I told him that he could save his money until he had enough, or he could opt for a cheaper toy. He told me I could just pay the difference. 

Our super-fun, celebratory toy-shopping experience ended as a dismal failure.

We headed to Health and Beauty next—not on the list, but seeing the sign made me think it’d be a good idea to go ahead and preemptively purchase some items we were getting low on. Finnick insisted on holding everything. And opening them. And then crying over when they were taken away. Because, really, isn’t losing a bottle of deodorant and a tube of toothpaste a tragedy? 

But no worries—we still had haircuts to brighten everyone’s mood! 

Andy had been asking for a haircut for a month. Pretty much as soon as we walked out of the salon the last time. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he enjoys getting his haircut and absolutely everything to do with the fact that he gets gum every time he makes it through a haircut without a meltdown. But his hair—and Finnick’s—had finally gotten to the point where it was over his ears, so gum-earning time had arrived!

Our usual girl wasn’t in, but the two who were working said they’d each take one kid so we could get out in half the time. What luck! So Andy and Finnick both went into a chair with me in the middle, trying to monitor both at once. 

Finnick had only had one haircut previously, so he is still a little apprehensive about the whole hair-cutting process. For comfort, he was sucking the life out of his pacifier. Unfortunately, every time he shied away from the clippers, he would open his mouth in surprise and it would fall out, right into all the hair. Because I was so busy trying to clean that pacifier so Finnick wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown in the chair, I couldn’t pay quite as much attention to Andy. I wasn’t too worried because he was doing great, trying to earn that gum. But then I saw the finished product, and I immediately realized I had been focusing on the wrong child.

Have you seen the movie Dumb and Dumber? Me either. But I’ve seen the front cover of the DVD. And Andy’s haircut greatly resembled that of Jim Carey’s character in that show. Of course, I told him how fantastic he looked, but inwardly I was horrified that I had to pay money for that monstrosity of a haircut. But I did, and off we went to get his gum.

Since Finnick is too young to understand the concept of gum, I decided to get him a sucker for his reward. The only kind I could find, without buying a bag of 500, was a bright blue Ring Pop up by the registers. I paid for my goodies, handed them off to the kiddoes, and headed to get the laundry detergent. 

But… I was distracted by the clearance balloons.

Practically the entire men’s section was on sale—all the shorts and T-shirts from summer were marked down for $5 or even $3, and I just couldn’t NOT LOOK! Seriously, Ken’s shorts have an incredibly short life span (ah, a pun!), and I wasn’t about to pass up rack after rack of them at those prices. 

About 10 racks later, I had not found a single pair in his size, but I had started to notice that my hands were sticky. I couldn’t figure out how I hadn’t noticed when I first got my cart that it had a sticky handle.

Then I looked at Finnick, and all was clear.

During all my intense clearance shopping, I had completely tuned out the children. They were quiet. They were satisfied with their treats. They were fine. Except, I forgot that Finnick is still sort of a sucker rookie. He doesn’t understand things like holding the sucker by the stick or that if you touch the sucker and then touch the shopping cart, you’re transferring bright, blue, sticky goo onto the very handle Mama is touching. 

Blue was EVERYWHERE. Look, I’ll show you:

It was so bad that we had to make a trip to the bathroom where Finnick received a bath in the sink. On the way there, he threw his sucker across the store and then screamed the rest of the way because I wouldn’t let him have it again. And his pacifier, which he cried for when he realized I really WAS NOT going to give him back the sucker off the floor, was nowhere to be found. 

(I think the road to Hell is paved not with good intentions but with the millions of pacifiers that we have lost at the most inconvenient times.)

 After the sucker fiasco, I decided to hurry up, grab my detergent, and get the heck out of Dodge. And all would have been fine if we hadn’t had to exit through that dern Garden Center. But who would have predicted that on our way out the door, we would happen upon…

A baby bird. A cute, tiny baby bird that started following out shopping cart towards the parking lot.

Guys, I’m telling you, you can’t make this stuff up.

Here I am with 2 young children who are OBSESSED with animals, and there’s this tiny bird hopping along behind our cart chirping. And they just know, because we just read the book, like yesterday, that those chirps are saying, “Are you my mother?”

Well, I can just see that bird getting smashed right in front of my sweet children, so I’m desperately looking for someone—ANYONE—that works at Wal-Mart who can move this bird away from the danger zone so their innocence can be maintained. But, of course, there’s no one. And the kids are begging me to take that bird home. Which, of course, there’s no way we’re going to do. 

My husband and my BFF (and probably YOU, if you’d been asked) said this would have been a great time to teach my kids about “survival of the fittest”. But I just couldn’t handle that after the toy let-down, the haircut catastrophe, AND the blue sticky. So I think of a genius compromise:

There is a vet’s office that we pass right by on the way home. And I have a diaper box. So I think, “No problem! I will load this bird up in my box, drop him off at the animal-loving vet who will somehow integrate the little guy back into bird society! My children will think I’m a hero, my husband won’t divorce me, and baby bird will be saved from a fate worse than death. Win for all!”

That is not at all how things played out.

First off, the excitement of the bird was enough to make Andy have to pee RIGHT NOW. I guess it is too much to expect him to have needed to go when asked while we were already in the restroom with his brother a mere 15 minutes ago. It’s much more fun to pee into the wind in the middle of the parking lot with your shorts all the way down around your ankles so that Mama can get misted while trying to block your naked behind from being seen. But with that done, everyone finished getting loaded up, and it was time to hand off this bird.

We stopped by the vet, but he informed me that his office did not accept baby birds. But he assured me that the Heard Museum did, and he gave me their number.

The Heard Museum informed me that they did not accept baby birds. But they assured me that there was a place in McKinney that did. Unfortunately, they couldn’t remember the name of the place, nor could they give me any contact information. All they could tell me was an intersection.

Google maps informed that there is NOTHING at that particular intersection.

So there I was, saddled with a baby bird that my kids wanted to keep. I knew I couldn’t release it at home without a scene out of National Geographic playing out right in front of them since we live next door to about 17 cats. And we couldn’t keep it. We simply, absolutely, without a doubt COULD NOT keep it. 

To make matters worse, we had managed to miss lunch during all the Wal-Mart and bird fun, and we were hungry. I had planned to stop for chicken on the way home, but it felt so wrong to buy a bucket of fried bird right in the midst of my Great Bird Rescue.

So… how did we get out of this mess?

I lied to my children.

We found a nice, shady little spot away from civilization where we could release baby bird into the wild. I explained to Andy that we were going to let the bird go in this super safe place (lie!) so that he could live with other birds again (lie!) and be happy (lie!). We took a picture with his short-lived pet (who would be dead within 24 hours…) and waved goodbye. 

And we ate chicken for lunch. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I’m going to start with the moral of the story, just to make sure it doesn’t get lost in all the details: 


We needed a whole 5 items from the grocery store: eggs, milk, bread, chocolate chips, and grapes. Easy peasy. Even with all three kiddos and geriatric cashiers, I figured I could easily make it out of there in 10 minutes. In fact, I thought it would probably take more time to unload/re-load the kids from the van than to actually do my shopping. And maybe it would have worked out that way if only—IF ONLY—I had stuck to the list.

See, there’s a huge difference between taking a quick jaunt to the store to fulfill a list and shopping at the store. If you need a few things from the store and can stick to a list, by all means, go! Take as many kids with you as you want! No problem! BUT—and this is a really, really BIG BUT (pun intended)—if you are unable to stick to a list, if you are going to want to check out the sales and compare prices, if you are going to be friendly and take the time to answer the 57 grandmothers who want to adore your babies, then you need to leave the kids at home.

Because shopping with children is hideous.

Here’s our experience:

Upon entrance of the parking lot, Andy espied the blue car shopping cart. I detest that cart because it’s bulky and hard to maneuver and the seat belts are always broken. Plus it forces the kids to sit in close proximity, and that always means trouble is on the horizon. Unfortunately, I had promised Andy on the last 10 trips or so that we would use the blue cart “next time” because it wasn’t easily located those trips. So guess what? We got the blue cart. 

So with two children now side-by-side and unrestrained and the third strapped onto Mama in my handy-dandy Baby Bjorn, we enter Kroger. For 5 items. 

While getting grapes, I saw that avocados were on sale and decided to grab a few. Avocadoes are next to the peaches display. Peaches look like balls. Finnick loves balls. The blue cart does not have working seat belts, so Finnick’s reach was greatly increased. Peaches were everywhere.

On the way out of the produce section to get milk, we passed the banana display. I stopped to grab a few since we go through bananas like nobody’s business. Finnick saw the bananas. They are his favorite. He started to scream for the bananas. He wanted one NOW. He was still unrestrained. He lunged for the bananas. Mama began losing patience. Already.

We made it to the refrigerated section for the milk, but Finnick was still mad about the bananas. So he took off one of his shoes, and threw it. Mama chased the shoe, noticed bread was on sale, and grabbed a couple of loaves. We go through bread like nobody’s business, too.

Andy thought it was hilarious that Finnick got fussed at for throwing his shoe and decided he would like to be in trouble, too. So he took off a shoe and threw it. Mama took a moment to threaten the children. Of course, during all of this, 6 grandmothers stopped to tell the kids how precious they are. (Note to grandparents everywhere—GRANNIE, LISTEN UP!—Please, please, please do not compliment someone’s children when they are showing their behinds! I don’t care if they ARE “precious dolls”! They are not being precious dolls right now!) 

The shoe—if you’re interested—landed near an end cap display of cereal, which reminded me that we are out of Poptarts. So down the breakfast aisle we went. I guess seeing box after box of all of his favorite breakfast food reminded Andy that he was hungry, because he started begging me to get him a Lunchable. I thought this would be a good chance to teach him about bribery—you behave, you get fed sodium-laden meat and cheese product. He thought it would be a good chance to teach me about persistence—you ask the same question a billion times, Mama will cave.  

Finnick threw his other shoe. 

Now that I had my poptarts (and two giant, on-sale boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch), I decided to jet over to check out the meat. I’ve sort of had a hankering for chicken. Chicken is located (kind of) near the case holding the Lunchables. The fact that we were walking in the general direction of the Lunchables gave Andy some false hope that his persistence was going to pay out. It was definitely false hope because he and Finnick had spent the trek over to the meat department doing The Lean and Scream—you know, where one person lounges up against the other and pushes with all his might, occasionally grinding his elbow into their ribs for an extra little bit of pleasure, and then the other person screams as if they’ve been dealt the death blow. And then you switch. 

The Lunchable dream was dead. 

Andy didn’t take it well. He threw his other shoe.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Finnick had finally figured out that not only could he lean really far out of the car, but without a seat belt, he could actually GET COMPLETELY OUT. He was pretty excited as he grabbed everything in sight off the shelves. Mama was not excited. Mama was downright cranky.

Fearing incarceration for child abuse if I didn’t get out of that store NOW, we headed to the register. Finnick continued to try to climb out of the car. Andy touched every candy bar in the register display. Not one, single worker took pity on me and volunteered to help me unload my cart. 

But I got even! After having everything rung up, I realized I had left my wallet in the van. I guess unloading three kids from car seat belts and herding everyone into the store without anyone being smashed in the parking lot made me forget that you need money to buy things. So I had to leave the cart and drag three kids back outside to retrieve it, then drag three kids right back inside to pay. And remember—my children were now shoeless. So we had to spend an extra 5 minutes putting shoes back on. 

Finnick was not happy. He thought we were leaving. He loudly protested when we headed back inside. Reiterate—LOUDLY.

While paying, Andy and Finnick whined non-stop to use the water fountain. Not so much because they were thirsty, but because water fountains are like really tiny water parks that you can splash and play in while fully clothed. Mama said no. They didn’t take it well.

Finally, finally, finally we were done! Hallelujah! I roped a worker into taking our groceries to the van so that I could get everyone restrained and separated in their car seats as quickly as possible. And why did I need help out? Because those 5 items had become THIS: eggs, milk, bread, chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, grapes, avocados, bananas, biscuits, crescent rolls, Pringles, Velveta cheese, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Poptarts, popcorn, soda, Chex Mix, trail mix, Ramen Noodles, and chips. 

Can you tell that I eat when I stress?

Oh, and please note that Oliver hasn’t been mentioned during the entire grocery shopping experience. That is because he slept peacefully in the carrier the entire time. 

He’s my favorite.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Why the Sky?" and other riduculous questions

Whoever said, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” obviously did not have children. Or he/she had children who were mutes. 

My child asks a lot of stupid questions. There—I’ve said it.  Judge me if you’d like for using the word “stupid” concerning anything to do with a child, but there’s just no getting around it. These questions are stupid. The vast majority of the things he asks me about have nothing to do with his actually being interested, or curious, or wanting to learn new information. I know this because he already knows the answers. And about half the time, his questions don’t even make sense.

I’ve asked around, and apparently, this questioning isn’t unique to my child. One of the friends I interviewed said her child asks questions often that seem to be missing words, like “Why the sky?” Another said her child asked her if she’d seen a green dinosaur with a long neck… FOR MONTHS.

From the super-scientific research I’ve conducted, it seems that most kids get some sort of perverse pleasure from driving their parents up the wall by asking questions that either: 1. are unanswerable, 2. are redundant, or 3. have answers that are so obvious that it hurts. 

Here are just a few examples:

1.  “Is that my brother?”

When he asked this question, he was standing over his brother, looking straight into his face. In our house. With no one else around. Early-onset Alzheimer’s? Nope, just being a three-year-old.

2.  “Why?”

The follow-up question to #1. I’m not sure if he wanted me to jump into a lecture on genetics, or if I did too well with the first question so he thought he’d make them harder.

3.  Andy: “Is that my Daddy?

Mama: “Yes.”

Andy: “Where?”

Um, did he not just point Dad out? Why would he need to ask me “where”? 

4.  “Is that my Daddy?”

No, honey. That is a 75-year old man with a full beard. Or a black teenager. Or a woman. Do you need glasses?

5.   “Why do I have to sit in time-out?”

Asked directly after clocking his brother in the face. Really?

6.   “Why did I do that?”

Baby, if you don’t know, I CERTAINLY don’t. 

7.   “Do we live in Texas?...When?”

Pretty sure RIGHT NOW. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have answered “yes”.

8.  Mama: “I’m going to push your chair up a little so you don’t spill food in your lap.”

Andy: “Why?”

Did I not preemptively answer that?

9. (While driving) “Red means ‘Stop’, Mama.  Red means ‘Stop’! RED MEANS ‘STOP’!... Why are you stopping?”

There are no words.

10.   “Mama, why were you younger?”

I do not understand the question…

11.  Andy: “Mama, where do we live?”

Mama: “In Anna, Texas.”

Andy: “No, where do we LIVE?”

Mama: (Tells him our address)

Andy: “NO, where do we LIVE?”

Mama: (Description with landmarks he is familiar with)

Andy: “NO, WHERE do WE LIVE?”

I give up.

12.   “Am I Andy?”

Yes. Yes, you are. Are you having an identity crisis? Do we need to look into counseling?

So what are some ridiculous questions YOUR kids have asked?