Monday, August 19, 2013

Why errand running is impossible with kids, even when they're being good....

Today I had 4 errands to run in order to get ready to go to Utah:
1. FedEx a broken toner cartridge back to the online store so they can send me a new one
2. Drop off paperwork for school with a friend so she can turn them in for me on Thursday when we're out of town.
3. Buy snacks for the trip.
4. Buy a part for the car.

Easy-peasy, right?

Here's how it went:
I told the kids I was leaving and they could stay home with Caleb if they wanted.

Four kids wanted to come with me to the FedEx shop because they'd never seen a print shop before. One wanted to come to the auto store and, since it's close to home, I promised to pick her up I FedExed my box so she could see the auto parts store but not have to come to the FedEx shop.

So went to send the box. Easy and I found the paper I want for the covers of a little book series I'm working on (60lb cover stock, just for reference).

Then back home and picked up Anda.

Then to the auto store. Benji invited himself into the employees only section in the back to look around and we didn't know it until he reappeared (no wonder we couldn't find him). I notice there that one kid is wearing oversized cowboy boots and another is wearing oversized snowboots--and it's hot hot hot outside! No wonder they're all sweating.  So five kids and I buy the car part we need.

Then two kids decided they'd rather not come to the other errands, so I take them home. But they add one errand to the list: "Mom, can you drop this off at the library? I forgot to turn it in when we took the books back last night."

Off to a store to buy snacks. But the store is closed. They went out of business this week and closed 3 days earlier than I thought they would. Of course I didn't notice this until I had taken 3 kids out of the car. Back into the car and we're all hot.

So off to the library. Drop the book off (refusing to let Benj go in). Benji wilts and asks to go home.

So I take him home.

When I drop him off, two more kids pop up and say they want to come to the store after all!

So we load up, and Benji brings me a cup of cold water (ahhh--melt my heart that he's so thoughtful!) and I give him popsicles and we're off again, only Benji stays home.

So I'm heading off to the store with four kids and me, just like we started, but it's a different four kids. (!)

We drop off the paperwork with a friend and I dont' even turn the car off because if anyone gets out, we'll never get home because we'll stay to play.

Then we shop for a long time buying snacks and still forget that we're out of mayonnaise (good thing we won't need it for a couple of weeks!).

FINALLY get home and the kids say, "Oh, but we wanted pizza for dinner! Can you go buy some?"


45 minutes of errands took well over 2 hours. And that was with no meltdowns except Jack (and you kind of expect that from a baby after they've been in a car seat for over an hour).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

With stats like these, why would you not homeschool?

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

Making a spectacle of buying groceries.

I went shopping tonight. Lots of food on sale--good sales--at various stores around town, but I needed to refill Caleb's asthma prescription, so I went to WalMart and decided to match all the ads there.

So I loaded up one cart with tired preschoolers (3 kids and the oldest is 4--the rest stayed home), and one cart with:

32 lbs of strawberries
20 lbs of peaches
25 ears of corn
5 lb of bananas
5 lbs of pears
5 lbs of nectarines
5 lbs of grapes
1 large watermelon
1 package of cardstock
1 refilled asthma prescription (10 minutes flat to refill it--they did really well this time!)

At that point, Jack's diaper started leaking AND he had a melt down (I didn't let him eat the plastic he ripped off the bag of nectarines while he was trying to get at the nectarines, and apparently that's the end of the world when you're 7 months old and hungry).  So I stopped shopping and decided to get milk and mayonnaise and snacks for our upcoming trip to Utah at another time.

I took my two full carts to the checkout, still juggling the screaming baby, and started matching ads.

That's when the lady came up and asked if she could take a picture of my cart full of strawberries. I said yes. She said her dad would get a kick out of it because he's 81 and she hates strawberries. Okay?

It was a good thing she thought it was funny and liked the kids even though Jack was screaming and the other two were quite literally running in circles, because after I matched all those ads to get all that food (for $65--they were good sales), the computer rejected it. Said that the difference between the sales items I claimed and WalMart's prices were too great, and a manager had to come over. I learned a long time ago that even though WalMart can't require you to produce the actual ads in order to match them (their own policy), it's a really good idea to have them on hand and show the cashiers while you match the ads. That was a lifesaver this time. The cashier had to call the manager because the computer was accusing me of lying, but she could vouch for every single ad price I gave them, so they had to do some kind of rigamarole with managers keys and secret codes typed into the computers and they finally let me pay for everything.

"Is it fun to have three boys?" the cashier asked as Jack finally calmed down. I guess she couldn't see that his leaking diaper had soaked the front of my shirt with pee? I know she could see the little ones running in circles, though.

"I have six boys," I answered absently. Then I kicked myself. The right answer was, "Yes!" I didn't need to make myself more of a spectacle!

The cashier said, "Six boys and one girl?" And I couldn't figure out how she knew that one girl part. Maybe I was babbling earlier and mentioned that? Probably. I talk to cashiers. Anyway, they kept insisting I needed help out to the car, and I kept insisting I didn't, even when the cashier ran after me and Jack started screaming again and I was juggling two full carts.... I never want people to help me out to the car because I don't really need them looking into the back of the van, where I have a bin of coats and blankets (for hiking), a double stroller that isn't folded because why go to the trouble when it fits, three baby backpacks, two camp chairs, and a giant rock Benji rescued from the river. It's kind of a tetris game to get the groceries in safely where nothing will fall on them, and I don't like to play that with someone standing there waiting to "help"--it just means I can't work slowly and put the kids in the car first, and I always feel guilty about feeding them unwashed grapes to keep them quiet while I load the groceries, and it really is just easier for me to do it myself at my own speed and in my own way.

Then on the way out to the car, the people who parked next to our big old van asked if I was a canner? (Uh--have you EVER seen someone can strawberries?!). No. She always wanted a big family, she said, and she saw all those berries and thought I must have a big family and then she saw the van, and she knew, but her husband won't let her have a big family (he was quietly loading the groceries into his car and nodded vigorously at that)...

And I realized everywhere I turned in the store, people were looking at me and my cart full of strawberries.

Next time I'll just wear a sign that says, "I have seven kids and they eat this much." Or maybe "I freeze them and use them instead of popsicles for my kids."

32 lbs of strawberries isn't so much. I've bought 50 lbs before. And I regularly buy 25-lb boxes of peaches and nectarines. And 25 ears of corn isn't SO many. Is it? I mean, we ate them all for dinner. That seems a pretty reasonable amount for 9 people.

One more reason to shop in the middle of the night: I'm a person then, not a circus sideshow.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Advantages of Night

We're shifting our schedules forward again, much to my dismay. I tried everything I could for a month to shift back to a normal time, and it didn't work. But school is starting, and we have a trip to Utah coming up, and we want to be daytime people for those.

I hate hate hate shifting the schedule forward, though. It's so disorienting. We have nobody sleeping at the same times, and nobody knows what day it is, let alone which meal we're supposed to be eating or when.

Plus it doesn't work any more. Last time we shifted forward, within a week we were back going to bed at 4:00 am. Even with trying to stick to a normal schedule, if one little thing comes up that lasts more than 2 nights keeping me awake past bedtime, the schedule is shot. (Last time, the kids got sick.) I think it's all part of fibro--I MUST have enough sleep in order to function with fibro, so if I go to bed late, I have to just keep sleeping until I've slept enough. I can't just go without like most women do for a day or two and then catch up.

Anyway, this time, I've noticed that I don't even like being awake during the day.

For one thing, it's much, much too hot and muggy. Nights are cool and drier.

For another, day is noisy. Night is quiet and fairly still--no visual or auditory noise on our busy, busy street.

Also, people! Oh my! People come out en  masse during the day. I know you're probably laughing at me. Don't get me wrong--I like people. I chat with grocery store clerks and people at bus stops. I'm not really an extrovert, but I'm not really an introvert, either.  But there are certain advantages to being out when most of the people are not out.

For example, I never have to stand in line for anything ever. Not at the library, not at the grocery store, not anywhere. Two days in a row we've gone out at noon, and I had to stand in line everywhere I went. Lines and fibro are very much not friends. I hate lines. I can't stand in them. And I can't stand still and wait for someone to finish doing something--getting peaches, reading ads, whatever. It hurts to wait for someone to get out of my way, so I don't like to have to wait.

I also never find myself in anyone's way, even with 7 kids around me, when we go out at night. And the kids never bother anyone, even if they sit on the floor or get loud. And they're easier to spot if they drift (or run) away from me a little because there isn't anyone else around at night.

Plus I can work at my own speed at night. If I feel like going fast, nobody is in the way. If I want to mosey, I'm not in anyone else's way.

It was quite a shock to go the library in the middle of the day and find it crammed full of families. I'm used to taking my kids to the library from 8-9 pm (every week, even)--and nobody is there. They get to play with the legos by themselves. They can sit and look for books without getting anyone's way. They can play the puppet stage or watch the model trains or use the felt friends or sit in the beanbag sea (yes, we have a very cool library for a small town) without waiting for someone else to get done. And, more importantly, the kids can approach the librarians themselves and get the help they need without standing in line, without the phones ringing, without being hurried along so the next person can get help. We can stand and chat with the librarians, and it's okay because nobody is waiting and nobody is breaking the rules. The little ones (even Elijah) can get themselves on the kids' computers and nobody cares if they used them for half an hour or 45 minutes because nobody is waiting.

A lot of our stores put out the discount and scratch-and-dent things as the night shift starts (like 10:30 or 11 pm), so I always get first go at those things. And, because they stock at night, the open-all-night stores have all the things that are on sale right there in stock when I go. (And, obviously, I'm less likely to go to a store that isn't open all night!).  During the day, I often find sale items are out of stock, but in the night, I rarely find empty shelves.

The night staff at stores is much nicer than the day staff. Less stressed, less busy, more inclined to chat, nicer to the kids. They remember, too, what we talked about last time and ask about things. The night staff is less stressed, under less pressure, and less likely to be overworked. Plus they get paid more, so they seem happier to be working.

Traffic during the day is not fun. At night, at least in our town, they turn a lot of the lights to flashing yellow lights, so getting around town is super easy. During the day? Not so much.

Plus, nighttime is full of beauty and stillness and mystery and creativity. The day time is hot and noisy and smoggy and full of everyone's problems. Night is full of everyone's dreams.

Day is convenient. And day is right in a lot of ways.

But I do love the night.