Nov 1, 2011

The day of the knight and no naps

November started normally enough, with a crazy bunch of kids eating breakfast before school.  Once I hustled Garry and the boys out the door, I had a few options for the morning -- at least what part of the morning I could squish between baby feedings -- and so, over my breakfast, I mulled them over.

Exercise?  Shower?  Sew?  Read?  Blog?  Run an errand or two?  I opted to shower, and then I threw together this morning's blog post in about 20 minutes.  Then the girls and I ran off to our pediatrician's office, where I had scheduled a weight check for Kate at 10:45. Excellent news there: Kate has gained four whole ounces since Thursday.  I never thought I'd be so excited about half a cup.

From there we returned a library book and then sat in the preschool parking lot for a few minutes before picking up Gavin.  That's when things started getting crazy.  Most days, preschool pick-up is harrowing.  Lexi runs far ahead of me into the parking lot while Gavin dawdles to look at the fish tank, hide behind a tree, and say hello to all of his friends.  I'm stuck in the middle with an awkward car seat in one arm.  Today was an exaggerated version of usual events, with Lexi narrowly escaping death-by-vehicle and Gavin holding the school door open for every human leaving the building. I had to yell in public, and I really, really hate to yell in public, even if a matter of safety is at stake.

My blood pressure returned to normal once my three small people were in the van.  While Gavin and Lexi took their sweet time buckling up (I am expressly forbidden from helping with this laborious process), I sat in the driver's seat, took a breath, and checked email on my phone.  The Littles were taking forever, so I actually read through a few messages. Then I heard a tap on my window.  I rolled it down to talk to the stranger who was standing there.

"Did you know you have a flat tire?"

Um, what?

Sure enough, the tire on the front passenger side was nearly flat to the rim.  I laughed. Really?  A flat tire was going to be part of my day?  The lady asked if I needed help.  I was already dialing Garry, who works just up the street from the school.  While my Knight in Dirty Old Car was en route (bless his jump-to-the-rescue soul), I took a picture of the tire, pulled out the van's owners manual, and poked around in the trunk to locate the spare tire.

Upon arrival Garry assessed the situation, declared it not-so-dire, and followed me to the nearest gas station, where we filled the tire with air.  That drive was a little white-knuckle for me, since the van was pulling strongly to the right, even at slow speeds.  I was super grateful for a warm and sunny day and especially the dry roads.

The next stop was Costco, which is where we purchased tires for the van last summer. The tire guy behind the counter was fast and efficient as he collected my keys and information.  After a minute or two he chirped that the wait would be at least two hours.

Um, what?

I looked at the clock, which said 12:30 p.m.  My NAP ALERT warning system was ringing. We were already an hour past lunch time, and apparently would spend the next two hours -- the napping hours -- at a cement-floored warehouse with nary a chair or cushion or quiet place.  We all needed lunch, including Kate, the nursing baby.  I gave myself a moment of silence to contemplate these sad facts and formulate a game plan.

And then we walked to the food court.  

Lunch at Costco is always a treat.  The kids love it.  I think the food is nasty, but it is pretty cheap.  I quickly paid for Lexi's hot dog, Gavin's pizza, and my chicken Caesar salad.  We all got Sprite mixed with pink lemonade to drink and settled down at a table across from the check stands.  Within 30 seconds Gavin spilled his entire drink on the floor.

Oh, so it's going to be one of those days?  Yep.

After the friendly sanitation engineer mopped up our mess, we relocated to a now-open table by the wall.  This was the best place for me to feed Kate, who was now awake and demanding a meal.  This particular location did not, however, offer handcuffs, iron bars, or straight jackets for the containment of small children, which was such a shame.  The super fantastic Costco cuisine on their plates did not tempt Gavin and Lexi enough to stay in the vicinity of our table while I nursed.  They ran circles around tables and climbed on tables and ran between tables and did everything except SIT at OUR table.  What's a nursing mom to do?

Then Gavin announced, quite abruptly, that he needed to use the bathroom.  And then he took off.

Suddenly I was stranded with three plates of untouched food, three drinks, and two kids, one of whom was attached to my body under a blanket. I was slightly panicked.  After considering my options, I quickly detached Kate (who did NOT appreciate the interruption), collected our food, and dashed with the girls to the bathroom.  Gavin had run into the men's bathroom to do his business, which apparently was not of the speedy variety.  Lexi had a poopy diaper, so I ducked into the women's bathroom to change her. She wanted to sit on the potty, and there is no reasoning with that child once an idea is locked in her head.  So she sat in a stall while I ran between the two bathrooms, calling for Gavin at the entrance.  After what seemed like hours (but was probably 10 minutes), and with the help of not one but two Costco workers, my crazy little group was reunited, each of us with empty bladders, clean hands, and tummies ready for lunch.

We had been at Costco about 20 minutes at this point, and I was already frazzled.

Kate's second nursing session went better because I parked Gavin and Lexi in the cart next to me.  They whooped and hollered, but they didn't run away.  I managed a bite or two of salad with my left hand.  They hardly touched their food.  When Kate was done, we cleaned up and entered the more exciting part of the store.  

We walked slowly up and down every single aisle, beginning in the electronics section, moving through kitchen appliances, and ending up in the produce department.  We pointed out shapes and colors and letters and all the exciting things we saw.  Thankfully, Kate slept.  I was glad I hadn't left the house in slippers, but was regretting flip-flops on that hard floor.  Back and forth we went.

The toy section was pretty exciting.  I let the kids get out of the cart so they could touch and explore.  This is something I never allow, so Gavin and Lexi were in little-kid heaven. We had so much time to kill, and it was fun to see where their interests took them.  Not surprisingly, the "grand kitchen" was a huge hit.  I think Lexi could have stayed there all day.  Her own kitchen is about 1/8 the size of this one.  She had so much fun.

We tried a bunch of samples.  We collected a few grocery items.  We explored the holiday section.  We ran into Dale Falkenstien.  At long last, I paid for our groceries and decided to set up camp in the tire department, hoping that the noise and energy emanating from my now-exhausted-and-screaming children might motivate the tire workers to hurry up.  I know that's not how it works, but it was worth a shot.  It was 2:30 p.m.

After two minutes in the tire place, with the kids lost among the tire towers, a man emerged from the repair area and called my name.  I was thrilled with the timing!  Finally, something in my favor.  

Sadly, he had bad news.  My tire could not be repaired, and a matching replacement tire could not be found anywhere in the state of Colorado.  They are shipping one over from Reno, Nevada, and it will probably arrive in a week.  So I get to go back and do this all over again?  Spectacular.

My van now sports a lovely spare tire.

I already had plans to get the van into the dealer this week for some warranty repair service, but I think I'll also ask why the Tire Pressure Monitoring System failed.  I should have had a warning that the tire pressure was low, and none of this should have happened.

At least I had something interesting to blog about tonight.
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