'I'm feeling bloggy...' I say to Michael who raises one eyebrow at me. 'Get it? Instead of 'I'm feeling froggy' 'I'm feeling bloggy'....I giggle at my own awesomeness even though it's a tough crowd from my couch.
This past week was spring break for my mom, who is a Kindergarten teacher 'back home.' So she decided to spend 4 nights in my crazy world. One of these days we took the kids to the Tanger Outlets in Washington PA, which are conveniently located about an hour from my house.
With a 4 year old and 8 month old.
In an 'outdoor' shopping center.
In 30 degree northern weather.
Yep. It was epic.
It takes about 4 hours to get myself and the 2 kids ready. Okay...I'm exaggerating. It only takes 3 hours. I have to feed everybody. Then everybody has to potty. Then I have to dress everybody. Then everybody has to potty again. Then somebody slobbers, pukes, spills, poops, etc. on their clothes so we have to start over. I have to make sure I have everything I need in the diaper bag...then recheck what I've packed...and I still usually end up forgetting something (like a bottle for Jack, which is traumatic for everyone involved). Then I have get shoes and coats on everybody. Then we have to potty again (don't judge me, I've had 2 kids...my bladder is dysfunctional). Then get everybody strapped into their car seats. Then run back in house to grab something forgotten. Then dig the GPS out from under the seat, scrape off the dried out chicken nugget, mutter a few explicits under your breath when the address you type in won't work, say a little prayer, and leave.
About halfway there, Morgan starts saying she has to potty, and that her stomach needs food in it, despite the fact that before you left the house she insisted she was not hungry and did not need to potty. We were on a two lane road that has zero spots to go to the restroom. Not even a shady little bar (hey, I would rather her go in a bar urinal than in her booster seat). Finally after one last 'I'm about to pee pee in my potty pants' we arrive in civilization and I send my mom in to a McDonald's with Morgan while I dig boogers out of Jack's nose with a diaper wipe, making him scream so loud that passerbys stare at me like I'm stabbing him with toothpicks.
Finally we get back on the road...and literally ten minutes later arrive at the outlets. I was so irritated that Morgan couldn't wait. The kid can usually last the 3.5 hour trip to visit my parents without having to stop once. But whatever. Children are God's gift to test parents' patience.
We find a parking spot somewhat close tot he nearest entrance and while unloading children and gear are almost blown away by what feels like -90 degree winds. My mom immediately starts hissing 'Doesn't the sun EVER shine here? Does it ALWAYS have to be so bloomin' cold?' which sends Morgan into a 'I'm soooooo coooooold' tizzy as I'm trying to get the stupid stroller unfolded and cram diaper bag and chubby baby into it.
We immediately go eat. My biggest complaint about the outlets...there's no good food. The choices were Subway (bleh), 'mall' type pizza (meh), or really questionable 'Chinese' (neh). The kids were angels while we ate.
Then we went to the first store.
I think boys are just born with an allergy to department stores. I'm not sure my dad and brothers have been inside a mall within the past five years. My husband avoids all shopping experiences unless it involves a trip to Lowe's. My son is no exception. Jack does not enjoy shopping. He loves going out to eat. But take him into a store and Happy Fat Boy turns into Sir Crankypants. Morgan LOVES to shop. She loves clothes. She loves trying them on. She loves buying them. She loves wearing them. I guess the fact that Jack screams whenever we dress him should be a clue as to how he feels about clothing and shopping.
By the 2nd store Jack is crying. And not just a 'I'm not happy' cry. More of a 'I am going to turn purple and scream until I burst a vessel in my head' cry that makes people stare at him and then at me, judging my parenting skills as I hurriedly try to dig through a rack of shirts looking for his size while throwing random toys and things at him trying to keep him quiet. At one point I even took off his shoe and gave it to him to gnaw on. My mom took pity on him and talked me into getting him out of the stroller. 'I will just carry him' she says. I chuckle to myself as I push the stroller full of shopping bags and hold Morgan's hand. Jack weighed 25 pounds at his 8 month appointment nearly a month ago. After about 3 minutes I stop and look back to check on my mom, who is shuffling her feet and breathing heavily, heading towards the nearest bench muttering 'Good Lord son you're heavy!'
So we take a break...in a bathroom. It had a little room with a diaper changing station and 2 rocking chairs. Mom decided to stay there with Jack while Morgan and I checked out other stores. In Gymboree Morgan was trying to talk her way into getting a dress...'I KNOW I have an Easter dress already mom, but this can be my HOME dress and the other one can be my CHURCH dress, deal?' when I hear somebody say my name and I turn to see a girl I graduated high school with and her mother in the store! We chatted for a few minutes then ended up going to find my mom and Jack...the six of us hanging out in the bathroom, catching up on life, with the random smells of what happens after people eat bad Chinese food floating around us.
Mom and I decide to continue our shopping adventure and put Jack back into the stroller. By this point he's exhausted and needs a nap but wants his comfy bed, not his stroller.
I mean seriously, he's an awesome baby. AT HOME.
So while I'm running around inside the Ralph Lauren outlet trying to piece together something for him to wear for Easter, mom is walking around in the cold trying to encourage him to fall asleep in his stroller. As I'm checking out she comes into the store saying 'I can't fell my hands...' and I notice Jack is asleep, or has frozen to death. Either way, he's quiet.
We decide to take a little snack break. Morgan and I hit the pretzel place for a cinnamon sugar pretzel while mom goes to a coffee store and takes the sleeping-possibly-frozen-to-death baby with her.
Cinnamon sugar pretzels are delicious.
And extremely messy.
Oh my goodness.
And my mom had the diaper bag with the baby wipes. And the pretzel place had no restroom so I had no sink to wash off Morgan's sticky crusty hands. I basically had to pick her up and shake her to get all of the crumbles to fall out of her hair and clothing. Some of it went down inside my boot and cleaning it out from between my toes was as fun as the time I relished in eating a Doritos Locos taco in the car while sitting in the parking lot of Joann Fabric, enjoying the peace and quiet of running errands with no children, and on the 2nd bite the entire taco fell apart and sour cream fell into my shoe. I now have a sour cream stain in the leather of the inside of my favorite pair of Toms.
Morgan and I sought out the other half of our shopping party in the coffee shop, where Morgan collapsed onto a leather chair proclaiming to be exhausted. But I wasn't finished! I have been trapped inside basically all winter, and I had shopping to do! So I left my mom and kids hanging out in the coffee shop and tried to 'speed shop' the entire complex, buying Michael a pair of pants, looking for a certain type of boots for me, searching for the missing pieces to Jack's Easter ensemble (why is it so hard to find cute stuff for baby boys to wear? Morgan picked out her adorable dress in about ten minutes). I stopped by in to check on mom and the kids and lured Morgan to come with me, to give my mom a little break. I think said something along the lines of 'Come on Morgan let's go find toys' because in each store Morgan loudly stated 'awwwww MAN there's just more clothes in here, I'm so over clothes, where's the toys? I need a Tiana Barbie!!!!' At one point I'm literally running while holding her (okay...more like trotting...or walking fast with a bounce). The poor kid was exhausted, but weighs 40 pounds. People are staring at me, wondering why a chubby girl is running around with a small child. Had it not been for the fact Morgan was laughing hysterical over me making strange noises (something along the lines of a camel with asthma) I think somebody would have phoned the police and put out an Amber alert. It also helped when Morgan loudly announced 'Mommy your boobies are hanging out, here let me cover them for you' claiming me as her mother as she pulled my sweater jacket over my v-neck shirt, which apparently revealed more than my normal 'mommy attire' (a stained over sized Marshall shirt...)
I finally realized it was 7:00 and time for Michael to get off work. We had been 'shopping' for 6 hours. I shoved all of our bags into the stroller and grabbed Jack to carry to the car. Lawwwd have mercy that boy IS a chunk. Especially after jogging while carrying a child even heavier. Plus it was getting dark and getting even colder and my mom is hissing at me over the fact that Jack's jacket didn't have a hood and 'oh my gosh I can't BELIEVE you make crochet hats and your poor baby doesn't even HAVE one!' ...which he DOES have one but it's that one thing I forgot...hey, it was better than forgetting the bottle again!! I threw a cloth diaper over his head which encouraged my mom to say things like 'poor kid with a diaper on his head' which made me look around for a kid wearing Huggies on their noggin but then I realized she was talking about MY kid...
We made it back home and dumped out all of the bags to admire (and remind ourselves of what we bought) and put on a little fashion show for Michael (which mostly consisted of cramming Jack into his Easter outfit to make sure it fit, and yes he screamed the entire time). And then I washed all of our new goodies and Jack's navy blue vest bled all over my new coral tank top and Morgan's new coral leggings (curse you Ralph Lauren navy blue...) but now everything is put away and waiting for warmer weather so that we can venture out of the house again...
and by the way, it's snowing right now.
and I really want a Doritos Locos taco.