Monday, August 30, 2010

Walmart Chronicles part 1

A little over a year ago, I gave a high-level summary about something that happened at Walmart about a year before that. It was on my other blog, which is rarely updated, and it really didn't do the story justice. So here is the unabridged version.

I was taking my 3 children to Walmart for various groceries and prescriptions. They were A-7, B-5, and C-2. I know, what was I thinking??? While, Children A & B were holding on to the cart with one hand, like they were supposed to, Child C was having a freak-out attack that 2-year olds are known to have. She was sitting in the child seat in the cart screaming that she was falling backwards. (She wasn't falling backwards!) This was relatively new and had been going on for a couple weeks for no apparent reason. Although it may make sense to you, it really did not make sense to me at the time. At some point she was moved from the child seat to the big basket. (Yes, I know that's not recommended, but I am an attentive mom and she was sitting and I always had my hands on the cart. thankyouverymuch.)

When we arrived at the pharmacy, there a line and and we waited behind 2 or 3 people. My kids asked me a hundred and four questions about products designed to prevent pregnancy that were right there next to us. The line gradually progressed forward and we found ourselves next in line. After paying for my prescription, Child C stood up in the basket, and I, being the attentive mom, turned my back on Child B (I should know better!) for about 20 seconds to sit Child C back down. I turned back around to Child B who was holding something out to me. She said, "Mom, help, I can't get these back on." They were black pieces of plastic and I had no idea what those things were, so I asked her. She said they were "here," and showed me the cash register on the counter.

She took apart part of the cash register! In about 20 seconds, while I had my back turned, she just did something and the pieces came off in her hand! The cashier had already moved on from me to the next person in line and had gone to retrieve their prescription. No one saw how B did it. When the cashier returned, I handed her the pieces and told her she'd probably need them and I was sorry I didn't know how to put them back on. She asked what they were and I showed her they were part of the cash register. Her face lost color. She set them aside and tried to ring up the customer, but the cash register wouldn't work without those pieces.

The cashier called someone else to help put the pieces back together. He fumbled with it a little, seemed half amused and half annoyed when he turned to her and asked her, "How did you do this?", to which she replied, "I didn't do it!." Have you ever wanted to just disappear? Yep, me too. I quickly turned the cart around and we walked very quickly right out of there!

A year and a half later, I had another amusing moment at Walmart. To be continued...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vacation - part 4

This is the last in the series of our vacation to Oklahoma and my 20-year high school reunion. Finally. I know it's taken a lot longer than I had planned, so thanks for hanging on with me and being patient. If you missed the first 3 parts, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.

Monday morning we brought our trip to an end. It was time to start our drive home because Hubby had to return to work on Wednesday and Child A had a softball game Tuesday evening. We were hoping to have her at the field in time for practice at 5:00PM. Ambitious, I know...

My dear friends were so generous to welcome us into their home for our entire stay. (Thank you, again!!!) Their boys were a joy to be around and the living faith of their family was very refreshing. I kept saying while we were there that their influence was very calming. My friend is a real inspiration in so many ways. If you'd like to be inspired, she blogs at Our Ordinary Life. Since we had to say good-bye on Monday morning, I read her blog frequently. It helps me feel close to her again.

When we departed, we knew that we'd have to make to St. Louis in order to not be rushed on Tuesday. Illinois highways are under perpetual construction. We have 2 seasons in IL: winter and construction. So, off we drove. One required stop for us at Braum's in Joplin, MO. It's tradition. We stopped there when Child A was 11 months old for her first lick of ice cream and again when Child B was 11 months old for the same. This was Child C's first trip to Oklahoma and she has already experienced the bliss of ice cream, but tradition is tradition, so we stopped for a treat. It was quick and then back on the road.

(Public note to Joplin, MO: Please don't let stores refer to themselves as "toy stores" on their signage unless they actually sell toys. It's not right to confuse children and put parents in awkward positions of having to explain why we can't stop there. At least we were in a hurry and could just use that without lying.)

Our next planned stop would be Cuba, MO for dinner. Who can plan bathroom and gas station stops? So, we were just on a mission to get to Cuba around dinner time and then head on to St. Louis for some shut eye. In Cuba, we stopped at a delicious BBQ joint, Missouri Hick BBQ, which was recommended by the folks at the Route 66 Outpost on our way down. There were various degrees of BBQ sauce, the portions were generous, and we all were very satisfied after. We didn't stop, there, however. Dessert, various cobblers, were also available. We chose 2 to split between the 5 of us: peach and cherry. Oooh, yummy!

Each of the kids made frequent trips to the bathroom and this was why:

They were fascinated by the faucet. Isn't it cute? If there is one thing my kids notice, it's detail!

After dinner, we played around a bit outside. There were those headless people that you pose behind and get funny pictures. Everyone had to have a turn with each one. Here's one of them:
I was driving when we left and it was dusk. I don't like to drive at dusk. I have a condition in one of my eyes that causes a glare in certain lighting conditions and dusk is one of them. But I wasn't really uncomfortable until we were driving on a stretch with woods just to the right of us on Route 66 going back to I-44. For a moment I had a flash of a vision of a deer darting out in front of me. It wasn't real and I didn't react because I knew it was just a feeling. I was gripping the steering wheel and I just prayed. Fear like that is not from God and I put Him back in control. I prayed for protection and for Him to move that fear out of me. I took a deep breath, relaxed my grip, and had peace. Within a minute, a deer came out of the woods; I slammed on the brakes and was down to 5 miles an hour as we passed it. It had stopped or else I would have also, but with deer you just never know if they will keep on running or even jump right into the side of your car. Amazing how God answers prayer, isn't it?
"You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you."
Proverbs 32:7-8

The rest of the night was uneventful, as we arrived in St. Louis and checked into a hotel. We checked out just before mid-morning and hit the road again. Driving past the arch brought about conversations of our trip down and we enjoyed talking about what we might do or see differently next time.

As we drove into Illinois, there were traffic jams as we expected and soon the clouds started getting darker and we drove through some rain here and there. Right around 2:00 PM, we were about an hour and half away from home. Hubby was driving and I looked off to the left, through his window. Now look carefully at what I saw:
Can you see it? I spent 13 years of my childhood living in Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. I grew up taking shelter a lot. But there was no place to take shelter this time. (Of course, my main goal was really just to get a good, clear picture of this baby!) I probably have 5 pictures of trees when I was trying to get this.

It dissipated rather quickly, so there was no cause for alarm. Not until about 3 more miles up the road, traffic came to a complete stop, the sky turned gray-green, it was pouring, and we were stopped on a bridge over railroad tracks. All I could think about was, "What if another one spawns and we don't see where it is? What if we don't know it's there?" Hubby asked if I minded if he spend $2.99 on a storm-watcher app for his work-provided iPhone. Nope, sure don't mind a bit, honey! Then it cleared up and we were on our way again. Yep, just like that.

We arrived home around 4:00, just in time for the storm to arrive and A's game to be rained out. She only missed one while we were gone because the others were also rained out. She was disappointed about this one, but got over it quickly as we all settled in to being home.

It was truly a lovely trip. We were blessed to see so many family - my brothers, sister-in-law, nephew, aunt, and grandmother. We were blessed to stay with God-loving friends and spend time with Aunt Winna, all of whom really keep their focus on Christ. We were blessed with safety, despite a few quirks with our van and a couple of deer sightings (I don't think I ever mentioned the one after the reunion, around 1:30 in the morning.) We were blessed with a lot of joy and laughter and fellowship. I couldn't have asked for a better trip.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of it. Thank you, Lord, for orchestrating it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vacation - part 3

I totally thought this series would take a couple weeks and be done in 3 parts, but noooo, I just can't stop enjoying summer enough to focus on anything and get this done. (We've been at the pool nearly every day!) And it's going to go into 4 parts, just so ya know. Sorry. The return trip deserves it's own post. If you missed them, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here. The conclusion, part 4, is here.

Let's pick up on Friday evening. After finishing up with mom's stuff, my sister-in-law and I planned to have an evening out, just us. It's been a long time since we've shared that time together and we always have a good time and usually laugh a lot. But when it came time to decide where to go, we were torn. Should we just go have a quiet bite where we could visit or should we go to the informal reunion get-together, which was supposed to be a casual evening for anyone to just drop in and catch up with others - really aimed towards seeing people who didn't plan to attend the adult only reunion the next evening that had a registration fee. Since we graduated together and she was planning to go to the picnic, but not the reunion, it was worth considering to stop by. We actually had a good time just trying to decide where to go and finally decided to drop by and see who was there. It was in a local restaurant/bar and it was hot, but lots of ice water helped keep the evening cool enough. The only thing I wish I had done differently was give my camera to my sister-in-law so I'd have some pictures to share. Instead it was in my purse nearly the whole time.

Sure enough, there were a few people who came who were not going to attend either the family picnic or the actual reunion the next night. Overall, I was glad we went and we stayed quite a while. It was a little weird to me to find out that some of my classmates are grandparents and some are brand new parents. It seemed like such a wide gap of where people are in their lives. I realized that I was having a hard time seeing everyone in terms of being an adult and not the same kids I knew in high school.

On Saturday afternoon, we were planning to attend the family picnic event of the reunion. It was being held in a local school so we'd have air conditioning, which was a real blessing! We had promised the kids that we'd take them to Oklahoma's largest playground, Funtastic Island, which is fun, but not at all an island. We stopped there along the way and got the kids some fun:

Child A:

Child C:
Child B:
This stop was dual purpose: get out their excess energy before we expected them to be good and provide some spin-therapy for Child B, who endures social anxiety along with sensory processing disorder. Spinning is very relaxing or her and she doesn't get dizzy. Child A, on the other hand, nearly got sick from the combination of spinning and 95 degree heat with high humidity. Oh well, can't win them all, huh? The kids did have fun and were ready to get to the picnic.

The girls would know no other children other than their almost 3-year old cousin and the point of this reunion event is to include the whole family, so we planned ahead and bought those jelly bands that were popular in the 80s for the girls to giveaway. It would give them a reason to approach other kids, rather than wait to be approached, and it would be a way to possibly help other kids be more comfortable if they were also apprehensive about being with so many other people they didn't know. For less than $20 (yes, we bought a lot of them), it was well worth it!

I enjoyed catching up and getting to know some of my former classmates again. Some people hadn't changed a bit in personality and others hadn't changed much in appearance. There were others who had changed more than I would have expected. Most everyone I talked to was just very down home and friendly, but that's how I remembered them, for the most part. I think I mostly enjoyed observing how the women interacted with their children - it's the mom in me!

Saturday night, my sister-in-law and friend's sister watched my girls while Hubby and I attended the evening reunion. It was at a local casino and I had no idea what to expect in terms of who would be there or what the reunion would be like in that environment. Again, my camera stayed mostly in my purse and I forgot to take very many pictures. I so wish my sister-in-law had been there to share the evening with. I probably would have talked to more people and certainly would have more pictures to show for it. At the same time, I am very appreciative of the sacrifice she made to stay with my girls.

Me & Hubby:

The evening started off with us walking into a room where I felt like I didn't know anyone anymore, much like the night before to be honest. My graduating class was just a little over a hundred students and the reunion had about 30% attendance. I pretty well though I knew who everyone was in high school, but walking into a room of people approaching the age of 40 was just not the same. So, we walked around the room and looked at the table decorations, which were record albums of music from the 80s. It was really neat to go back in time like that. And at the same time, I could read people's name tags without staring (because I was really looking at the record albums.)

There was one classmate in particular who I was talking with about where we are in our lives - geography as well as what we are doing in life and whether we work or stay home with our kids. I mentioned that we don't get out much without the kids because we are very family oriented and do most everything together. I don't know if she thought I was dissatisfied with that or if it was just unfamiliar to her, but she said she was sorry. I corrected myself by just telling her it is a choice we've made to homeschool and be present in our children's lives by parenting all the time. I don't know what she took away from that conversation, but it made me appreciate more the choices we've made. I tried to make a point to mention in conversations God's blessings in my life. God has changed me a lot since high school and I certainly didn't want to overlook His hand in who I am today.

We had planned to leave right at midnight, but as we were getting ready to leave, there were some classmates who hadn't attended the reunion, but had stopped by to see who had. Some of them were people I had really hoped to see, so we stayed a bit longer to catch up. I'm glad we did.

There were still some people who I wish had come and some that I wish I had made more of a point to connect with. I know there were a few people at the reunion who I just never made it over to talk to. I also found that I was visiting an awful lot (not that it was awful, because it wasn't) with spouses of my classmates. Maybe that's because many of my friends were guys and now I just have more in common with their wives than with them. I also was very conscious of rekindling some of those friendships that probably should be left alone.

I made a promise to one classmate, whom I had lost track of the fall after graduation, that I would finally get onto Facebook. Yeah, now you know why I haven't been blogging much...

One thing I was very happy about was that this reunion was just a nice gathering of people who used to be friends, for the most part. Whereas, my husband's 20-year reunion was not only more formal, but some of the women were way out of control. I told my husband, based on the formal gowns that were worn at his reunion, that this is not prom. Later that evening, in the bathroom, one woman's hair was falling out of her updoo, and she was having a hissy fit. She told her friend, "You have to fix it. This is bigger than prom!" Yes, she actually said that. I am so glad my reunion was not like that.

My kids had a great time with my sister-in-law (Aunt K) and my friend's sister (Aunt Winna.) There were planned activities involving making bracelets and crowns (because they are princesses - daughters of The King.) They also made me a little coupon book that I can redeem for chores and love. We had a good time and so did the kids! In fact, the kids are still talking about it two months later! They wish both Aunt K and Aunt Winna lived closer (so do I, but not because they watched the kids, but because I would love to spend more time with them, myself.)

On Sunday, we went to the zoo. Monday would be the first leg of our trip home and I wanted to do something fun as a family and include my brothers again. It was hot and miserable and I stuck to my guns that the zoo would be a lot of fun. What's wrong with me? But we made the most of it for a while and tried to enjoy it.

This is one of the exhibits we saw. Really, Tulsa Zoo? You have to make the USA look like this? In the elephant exhibit, there was this display case. It might be hard to see here, so I'll describe it. The picture at the top of the picture, which is cut off, is "Prehistoric Images" (of elephants), the display on the left is "Buddhist Images" with an elephant lying down and a figurine. "Hindu Images" in the middle has a Hindu figurine. Then on the right, we have "Modern Images" with Babar, a republican elephant, and two books: Dumbo and Horton Hears a Who. Yep, that's the modern elephant... {sigh}

We also had a science lesson with these little guys, who were not intentionally on display. My sister-in-law saw them on a tree in the petting zoo.

They were strong and would grab just about anything. The zookeeper put them on his shirt and they chomped right down and didn't want to let go.

Child B with Uncle Andrew:

Child A & C with cousin & Uncle C:

My 3 girls with Uncle Andrew:

It was hot, Uncle Andrew had late afternoon plans, and we seriously needed some ice cream to cool off, so we called it a day and went to Braum's. It was nice to spend the afternoon with family, but next time it's that hot, will someone please convince me to do something indoors?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Observations from today that made me laugh out loud...

Today I was in the kitchen cleaning when I overheard the neighbor kids playing with the dollhouse in our living room (hey, we have a small house so every room is lived in, m'kay?) The neighbor's cousin was explaining to the others how the game was going to go: , "Guys, guys! They're home-schooled. Oh, and home-doctored."

Still in the kitchen, now cleaning out a junk bucket (don't ask), I found a collar. I am so ready for cat again and said something about the collar and now we can go get a cat. This conversation followed:

Almost 4yo neighbor boy: "What's that?"
Me: "This is a collar."
Boy: "For a dog?"
Me: "No, for a cat, or a kid."
Boy: "Oh, I have a collar."
Me: "You do? You have a collar?"
Boy: "Uh-huh. My mom does. On me."
Me: "Your mom puts a collar on you?"
Boy: "Yeah. And puts in me in the yard."
Me (laughing): "She puts you in the yard? With a collar?"
Boy: "And a leash." and he walked away laughing. and so did I.

(I know this family and know they don't do this, but it was a hilarious conversation!)

Finally done in the kitchen, I walked into the family room (converted from a bedroom) to blog about this, when I found my husband making some adjustments to a pair of pants. He's been meaning to put a string or elastic in the cuff of his pant legs. That's what he was doing. With twine.

I am having such a good day full of laughter today. And if you didn't catch this on Leno or when I posted it on Facebook, enjoy this for pee-your-pants kind of laughter (or is that just me?)

Have a great day!

Monday, August 2, 2010

An unsolicited letter to creepy guy at the pool

Dear 55-year old man at the pool (I know your age because you told me),

This afternoon you arrived with your little girls and helped them recover their footing after going down the water slide. It was very attentive of you and I'm sure they appreciated your presence. However, when you started helping other girls recover their footing, I wondered why the lifeguard didn't tell you that you weren't actually allowed to be there. I only saw you assist one girl who did not arrive with you and I gave you the benefit of the doubt. I had no idea that I would have reason to approach you later.

When my daughter came to ask me if we could buy french fries, I was a curious as to why my girls were sitting at a table with you. I assumed that maybe they had introduced themselves to your girls or maybe you had introduced your girls to them in order to help them find playmates at the pool. However, your girls were not sitting with you. My girls quickly changed tables to one I chose when I brought the fries over.

A short while later, I heard that you offered candy to two of my children and a family friend while the oldest was away from the concession area. I also heard that the two younger ones accepted and you told them "don't tell your mom." When I confronted you about it, you admitted the situation and your wrong doing, including an apology. I told you that the situation raises red flags all over the place. What I didn't ask you about and it gives me a strong level of unease, is that my girls later told me that they were sitting at the table when you alone approached them and asked if you could sit with them. They thought that was weird and they are right. I won't even get into how many more flags became red with this information.

Rather than go into all the different emotions and questions I have at this time, I will simply thank you. Today I had opportunity to learn how my children react in what might be a potentially dangerous situation with strangers. I thought they had it drilled into them to not accept anything from strangers. I thought they knew to come get me if an adult they don't know is too close to them or talks to them. You helped me learn that we need to do more to prepare our kids with what to do. At this very moment, my kids are once again watching The Safe Side, and I have emphasized over and over that you were in their "safe side circle" and you are a "don't know."

From now on, when I see you at the pool, I will be watching you. I will be watching every move you make and will not hesitate to get pool management involved and I will not hesitate to call the police.

A loving and caring mom with good instincts.