Monday, August 6, 2012

So, We Went School Supply Shopping

This past weekend was tax-free weekend, and a chance to get all the kids everything they'd need for school at a slightly lower price. We were going to be out of town all weekend, so I opted to get it done on Friday. I had two extra kiddos here, but they're easy. One is Aiden's friend, Ben, and the other was his older sister, Ellie. Ellie doesn't really count as an extra kid because she's super helpful and one of my best baby sitters.  As I loaded eight kids into the car to venture out to the land of the nutjobs, I thought to myself, "I have Ellie with me. What could possibly go wrong?".  The kids all excitedly piled in and buckled their seat belts with minimal crying out things like "She buckled faster than me. It's not faaaaaaair." or "Mom! Mom! Mom! Moooooom!  When we get there, can we get x,y, or z?".  Before we ever got out of the driveway, the whole event seemed completely civilized.

I had cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom that morning, which meant no one was allowed to eat in there.  Clean kitchens are meant for looking at, not eating in. Anyway, the WalMart has a subway shop in it, so I told the kids we'd go there first for lunch since they'd done so well with their chores.  My kids understand that there is an art to my method of ordering and remembering each kid's sandwich, drink, and snack.  I line them all up and then insist that they stay in line. That way, I can keep a running tally of who got what with what toppings on it when I go to check out. No one must step out of line or speak to me while I'm doing this.   Ben isn't really one of my kids (although we claim him as our's since he's here all the time), so he was unaware of this fact and made the life-altering error of asking me a question while I was trying to order.  Holy cow, dude!!!!  A question?!!?  Really?!?!?!  It's as if he'd altered the Force or something.  I took some time to breathe deeply into a brown paper bag and we were good to go again.  I finally got all the kids their food, got them seated at tables, and managed to enjoy lunch.  So far, so good.  No one was crying, bleeding, or being arrested, so I was thinking this was a pretty darn successful trip.

Then it happened. We cleaned up lunch and ventured over to the school supply department. They might as well just call it the black hole or something. Once you get within three aisles of it, you get sucked in never to be seen or heard from again.  There are pencils, notebooks, little purple glue sticks, binders, and washable markers all just waiting to get hold of you and drag you down to the depths of oblivion with them where they'll suck every penny out of your bank account before setting you free to cry in a corner alone and impoverished.  I'm pretty sure that's what happened to most of the people standing there because they all had blank faces as they stared at the notebooks with their shopping carts right in the middle of the aisle so no one could get by.  I could hear moms and dads arguing with their children as they tried to urge their kids to choose a notebook.  "But, mooooooom! I want a purple one!". "Fine, honey. Choose a purple one." "But I want a red one, too!"  "Well, the list says you just need one. Just choose one please." And then the kid proceeds to melt into a puddle of whine and tears on the floor.  I'm standing there trying to be patient waiting for them to move so I could have a chance to hem and haw over which one I wanted, too, and I'm thinking to myself,  "Dude! Let your kid get the whole freaking rainbow of notebooks. THEY'RE 17 CENTS!!!  Just get a dozen and get out of the way!!!! For that price, you can turn around and sell them on the school supply black market for 25 cents and make a killing! Free enterprise at its best, right??  Now, get your notebooks and MOVE!"

Finally we managed to move in, get our supplies, and then attempt to get out of the department. Let me tell you: those shopping carts can and will be used as weapons when one's life is in danger. My life was in danger, people! If I didn't arm myself with something (i.e. Shopping cart), I might still be in that black hole dodging notebooks, crayons, child-safe scissors, and post-it notes.  It was not a pretty sight, but I did manage to get myself and all of the children out alive.  Of course, they were slowly but surely coming apart at the seams and getting more and more impatient with each passing second.

Then came the socks and underwear.  Now, if you only have a couple of children to purchase socks and underwear for, this is really no big deal.  I have more than a couple of children to get socks and underwear for, so it might as well have been an act of Congress.  Mindy, Liam, and Drezden had plenty of underwear so they didn't need any. The same went for Rachel.  I explained to Rachel that she had so many panties in her drawer that the Victoria's Secret angels were jealous of her.  That didn't suffice. She wanted new panties right now. I wasn't budging. Do you know how much little girl panties are, especially when they just have to have Hello Kitty on them!?!?  Holy cow!!!  I told her I'd draw a cat all over the butt of all of her panties and say hello when she walked by, but that wasn't cutting it. She proceeded to fall apart in tears.  Luckily Ellie was there and was able to redirect her with socks. Gotta' love socks, right?  CJ chose his underwear with relative ease after thinking long and hard about the pros and cons of standard tighty whities vs. something with a little more flair to it. He decided that it's time to try boxer briefs, but not with pictures. Just cool colors would suffice. Whatever, dude. Good choice, let's move on.

Aiden's underwear decision was not so simple.  He really likes his boxers, so we had to spend some quality time looking at the boxers. Red plaid vs. blue plaid. What to choose?  I suggested that he go with boxer briefs because he likes to walk around in his underwear. Sometimes he sits on the couch and puts his legs up and, well, boxers just don't do the job when it comes to keeping his junk out of view from the rest of us. Plus, you could get three boxers for the same price as 8 boxer briefs.  He had almost made his choice for boxer briefs when Ben reminded him that boxers leave more wiggle room and look cooler.  I asked why it even matters how they looked and Aiden looked me straight in the eye and said, "Locker room, Mom."  Point taken.  So, we stood there another five looooooooong, painful minutes while he weighed the pros and cons of his underwear choices. Finally he selected boxer briefs because more come in the package, and we were on to socks.

I. Hate. Buying. Socks.  Over the ankle, below the ankle, too thick, too thin, too squishy, totally lame, super cool, WHATEVER. Just choose some socks!!! They come in a ten-pack and are all the same so you never have to worry about matching them.  THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, KIDS!  For future reference (you know, like if I die and someone gets stuck taking these kids for socks on their own), here is what you need to know about my kids' sock preferences:
Aiden: Below the ankle. They're totally lame above the ankle. Not too thick.
CJ: Above the ankle. He doesn't care how thick, thin, or in between they are. For that matter, "Why can't I just wear dad's? They almost fit me!"
Rachel:"Mom! I totally don't wear white socks! I need these brightly colored socks that are sure to blind anyone that looks at them. Also, these are cool because I can mix and match and never have to wear two socks that are the same." Yeah. It's true. I'm not going into further detail on that. Just know that my head is hanging in shame for having agreed to it. In my defense, I was already beaten down just trying to survive the notebook aisle.
Liam and Drezden:  Ooooooh! Socks!
Mindy: Feet are too small for socks. Try again next year.

By some miracle, I made it out of the store alive. Because I'm a glutton for punishment (or stupid), I decided I needed to go to Target to take advantage of their BOGO sale and the tax free status. That's right, folks. I went from WalMart to Target with eight kids in tow on tax-free weekend. I know. I know. I'm practically a saint (or stupid).  Suffice it to say, next year I'm strapping broken down cardboard boxes to my kids' feet and calling them shoes. There is not enough medication on the planet to survive doing that again.

Rachel just had to have tie shoes, but they also had to light up and have Hello Kitty on them. Seriously, that stupid cat is haunting me every time I turn around. There were light up shoes that tied, but they didn't have Hello Kitty. Again, she wasn't satisfied with me just drawing a cat on the shoes and saying hello every time she came by.  There were velcro shoes that didn't light up, but had lots of sparkles and bedazzles all over them, but they didn't make her run super fast through the aisles.  There were Hello Kitty shoes that were tie shoes that had glitters, but they didn't meow when she stepped. Wait. That was just in my head. She didn't ask for meowing, but she may as well have. She asked for everything else.  We tried on cherry shoes that had velcro and lit up, we tried on pink and blue shoes that had ties but didn't light up, we tried on purple and green shoes that were just too purple and green.  I think we even tried on some blue high heels that looked vinyl or something. She LOVED those, but they weren't okay for P.E...or society for that matter.  Finally, she settled on the Hello Kitty sneakers that tied and had glittery spots on them, but don't light up.

Aiden only wanted exceptionally expensive shoes. I won't go into details, but it took us over an hour to decide that he'd just need to try another store.  Oh, and it was painful.

CJ just wanted velcro light up shoes, but didn't think it was fair that he was a size 3. What if he wanted to also be a size 5 or 71/2?  What if next year he's a different size and his size 3's feel bad? What if? What if? Why? How?  Do these look okay?  STOP THE QUESTIONS ALREADY AND JUST CHOOSE YOUR BLASTED SNEAKERS!! I must have been crazy (or stupid) to think this was going to end up any way other than BAD.

Liam really wanted monkey shoes. There were other shoes that fit him, but they weren't as cool as the monkey shoes. "Check out these cool light-up shoes, Liam". "No lights. Monkey".  "How about these cool sneakers?"  "No cool shoes. Monkey."  This went on for a while. I'd offer him something I liked and bait him with them and he'd stick his nose up at it and insist on the monkey. Frankly, I was just glad he was talking and I was so tired (and stupid) from trying to do all this with eight kids that I let him have the monkey shoes. They're cute.  And they're perfect for a person who throws poop.

Drezden?  Oh, Drezden! I think I'm just going to call him Captain Indecisive from now on. He'd find a shoe he liked and settle on it until Ben and Aiden would come along and show him some other completely hideous overpriced shoe and convince him he wanted those. Then I'd have to bring him back to earth and talk him into the more subtle, less expensive shoe.  In the end, we agreed on Cars shoes. Can't go wrong with that, right? Oh, and they light up. And they have velcro. But no kitties.

I rushed us out of Target before anyone decided to change their minds or wanted to ask me for something else, like a notebook or a pencil.  I got them into the van and came home to give myself some time to sit in the fetal position in the corner sucking my thumb while I rocked back and forth praying to never, ever have to go back to the store ever again.

I looked up at the clock and realized it was now dinner time. My kitchen was far too clean to eat in, so I called Byron and he agreed that we should go out to eat with Ellie and Ben's family and then he reminded me that there were some items (including school supplies) that he wanted to pick up from WalMart. Because I'm nuts (and clearly stupid), I agreed. So, we went school supply shopping...again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let The Back to School Countdown Begin!!!!

13 days until school starts!!! The bus arrives at 7:15 for Liam, 7:45 for Aiden, 8:09 for Rachel and CJ, and 8:45 for Drezden.  Not that I'm counting or anything, but that means THERE ARE LESS THAN TWO WEEKS UNTIL SCHOOL STARTS!!!!!  Wahoooooo!!!

It may sound like I'm one of "those moms" who is eager to ship her kids off to the local public school to take care of them while she goes to lunch with her husband, uses the bathroom alone and uninterrupted, goes Clearance shopping without a bunch of begging little monkeys in tow, spends hours on end cuddled up with a certain new baby, puts her feet up and watches trashy tv on the laptop, or cleans the house and enjoys it staying that way for a full hour or so. Really, I have much better motives than all that for sending them to school.  I mean, what sort of mother would I be if I admitted that I'm happy to send them to school so that I can get a break?  Nope.  I'll never admit that. At least not out loud anyway.

I'm trying to think of my darling little angels and their best interest. Three months out of school causes brains to turn to mush and boredom to set in. Do you know what happens when you put six bored children with mushy brains all in the same house for three months?  Let's just say some of what I've witnessed this summer could be used as tactics to get prisoners in the big house to confess to just about anything.  We wouldn't want these poor, sweet children to be too bored now would we?

And, really, think of their friends. It seems I'm going to have to sacrifice my time with the kids to send them to school so that they can grace their friends with their presence.  It just wouldn't be fair to the rest of the world if I kept my children all to myself and failed to share them with all of their adoring fans.

Let's not forget the teachers. In this economy, keeping a job is hard enough. If I kept my little brood here at home, those poor hard-working teachers would have nowhere to work and would find themselves homeless on the streets just wishing they could have had amazing children like mine to teach.  I can't let those teachers down. I know they wake up every morning and think, "Gosh! I just can't wait for those SuperMom kids to come to my class today!" By sending my kids to school, I'm putting food on the table of some underprivileged teacher who just wants nothing more than to spend eight hours a day five days a week with my angelic offspring.

And let's not forget the bus drivers. I know for a fact that they wake up at the butt-crack of dawn and excitedly throw on their clothes and rush out the door with only one desire in their hearts: they want to listen to my kids' voices non-stop all the way to and from school.  How could I deny those bus drivers such a privilege?  It seems like the least I can do really.

I know it could seem to some people that I am just thrilled to finally have a few moments of peace and quiet all to myself to just breathe in and out...and eat chocolate.  That is not the case, friends. This going back to school thing is a VERY serious business and a sacrifice, one that I make with a heavy heart.  Being the selfless, amazing person I am, I choose to allow my precious angels to go off into the world of school and spread a little sunshine.  So, it's with a heavy heart that I say LET THE BACK TO SCHOOL COUNTDOWN BEGIN!!!!!