Today we had a need. We realized that little dude didn’t have any teethers! When you’ve got a teething baby you’ve got to have teethers. He’s asking Santa for a Baby Blanket Teether Bear for Christmas. I guess he’s really not asking for it. We’ve requested it for him, but we thought he’d like it. Unfortunately, Christmas isn’t for another month (pretty much) and he’s got need for something to chomp now. We had to do something, so we decided to go on an adventure to get him a teether or two. It could have waited until a day Oz was already out having to work, but the weather was nice and we wanted to get some good food in the house, so we decided to go for a walk.
We got to the store and started our shopping. I pulled Oz aside while we were there and made some suggestions on what we could get for some cheap Christmas presents for the kids. We already know the kids are going to get some candy this year. We know Santa’s probably going to bring some games, just like every year. I suggested maybe we can round things out with some art supplies, coloring books, and inexpensive puzzles, if Santa doesn’t plan on it. It was a great little shopping trip, until we realized Oz left his wallet at home…
Okay troops! Roll out! We’ve got miles to go before we sleep! We headed home empty-handed, determined to double the benefit of our exercise. We were going to head home, resupply, and head back out! The kids could make the five mile trek with no problem. Well, Sander can only make it half that. We use a stroller for the other half. Lucabear catches a ride. The kids were pretty determined that they could do it, and I felt like I was up for a challenge. Oz really didn’t want to, but he was kind of dragged into all of it, and bribed with good food in the house again.
Stopping off to resupply took longer than we realized it would. I changed two diapers. Lucabear was soaked and it’s not exactly easy to EC while we’re on a long walk with a baby that doesn’t really show cues I can understand. Sander gets his “bubble butt” for long trips because he still has too many accidents. I had to grab something quick to snack on because I hadn’t eaten all day, though I’m not quite sure how that happened. I’m usually pretty good about eating. It wasn’t a long stop, only about a half an hour or so, but we expected to grab the wallet and be back out the door.
Surprisingly the temperature dropped like a stone. It wasn’t quite cold yet, but it was chilly enough that I didn’t want to go without a sweatshirt. It wasn’t even the temperature so much as the wind. We still decided it would be okay because we’d be warm once we were walking and we wouldn’t be that long anyway.
We went to the store and picked up our stuff, but as is always the problem with a food stamp budget, it’s towards the end of our budget, so we didn’t have enough for everything. We ended up sacrificing the stuff to make our new fudge recipe. I open up “the fudge factory” every year, but this year it’s going to have to wait. It probably won’t be until after we get our next allotment of food stamps. We still managed to fit in most of the ingredients for eggnog pancakes and I’ve got everything I need to make pumpkin nog for Oz and the kids. It was hard on Oz because we went over budget and had to put some things back, but I’m starting to get used to that, and the cashier and bagger said “Don’t worry about it. It happens all the time.” They’re right. It really does happen all the time. It’s easy to overspend.
As we were in the checkout I bundled the little guy up in a pair of pajamas over his shorts and tee. It was warm enough for that before, but it had gotten cold. Socks went on his feet and his hoodie went over it all. I wished I had known the temperature was going to drop so much because I would have packed his warm snuggly little suit. He wasn’t a happy boy because he needed a change too. He was poopy, poor thing, but there was no way I was going to put him down in their filthy bathroom to change his diaper. It was too cold to do it anywhere else. We just decided to wait until we got home.
Packing up all the groceries in the stroller was miserable. The temperature had tanked. It was easily twenty degrees cooler than it was when we’d left the first time this afternoon and none of us were dressed for it. Corde sulked and sat on the curb while the boys ran back and forth to look at every Christmas tree at least twice. Meanwhile I sat myself down next to the stroller and went to work. First I stuffed all the canned goods I could fit into the basket under the stroller. Oz handed me everything from the cart to make my life easier. Poor little Luca was having none of it and decided to scream at me the whole time. Then Oz and I packed up the top of the stroller as quickly as possible because we were getting cold and stiff. It wasn’t exactly our idea of fun. We had a couple of people express sympathy towards us, and I tried my hardest to slap on a pleasant smile, even though I just wanted to bite their heads off. I wasn’t in the mood for expressed sympathy. It would have been too easy to say “If you feel so bad for us, give us a ride or money for a cab!” It would have been so easy to make some snappy remark about crying babies and a walk home over two miles long. Instead I did my best to just smile and express that it really wasn’t so bad, because it wasn’t. I’ve had to walk groceries home in a stroller, three year old in tow and pregnant, uphill in the snow during one of the worst winters I could remember. (Doesn’t that sound like a “back in my day” sort of thing?) In comparison being a little under-dressed for the weather with a stroller full of groceries, three kids in tow and one along for the ride, and Oz there to help wasn’t all that bad. Actually, it was kind of nice, if you ignore the part where we’re all walking as fast as we can collectively could (and stay together mostly) and Sander needing to be carried about half the way.
So the walk home was one done in as much haste as we could manage. Instead of going the long way like we’d planned, we decided to take a shortcut through the field. Oz wrestled the stroller through the edge of someone’s yard going with the longer shortcut while the kids and I took the quickest one, the not-stroller-friendly route. We hustled along and tried to beat Oz, and probably would have if Sander would have held my hand. Instead he insisted on keeping his hands in his pockets and fell all over the place as a result. Hands in his pockets is his way of signifying that he doesn’t want to hold hands. Unfortunately, his balance isn’t great over uneven ground and that doesn’t help in the least. Then we swapped off and Oz took Sander duty and I pushed the stroller. I was surprised at my own strength. Usually my elbow prevents me from pushing such heavy loads and in the cold it should have been worse, but it wasn’t. Oz first lagged behind while Corde, Beekee, and I started talking about our perfect dream house. In relative short order Oz passed us by with Sander tossed over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes (hey, he was happy tossed over Daddy’s shoulder and they were getting home quick!) and Beekee sped off to be with the boys. Corde lagged back to keep me company while we talked the whole way. She could have rushed off ahead, and I even expected her to with how cold she was, but she decided she’d rather keep me company because it would probably make the walk easier for me if we stayed together. Oz seemed to have a handle on Beekee and Sander, so she didn’t feel like she’d be better use in helping him wrangle the boys. She’s really become quite the helper.
We decided our perfect dream house would have a fireplace with plenty of firewood. There would be hot chocolate with the big marshmallows in it waiting on the table for us when we got home. We’d have two ovens with a turkey and stuffing cooking in one and a big old “roast beast” cooking in the other. We’d have plenty of soup on hand, just for days like this. We’d have an indoor hot tub where we could eat ice cream sundaes, since it’s the only way to have ice cream when it’s cold. The floors would always be perfectly warm, and we’d have a beautiful spiral staircase leading to a den or game room with an even bigger fireplace. The whole house would be surrounded with big, tall, evergreens to block the wind and shelter the house, except for an atrium, which would need full sunlight, of course. We’d all come home, have our hot chocolate, then snuggle down in flannel pajamas to watch Christmas movies until it was time to go to our warm beds, piled with blankets.
Beekee realized that being cold wasn’t such a problem when he kept pace with Oz. That kept him nice and warm. He’d hop back and forth from here to there, practically running circles around Oz. There was no way he’d get cold that way! All that activity kept him nice and toasty.
Corde learned that the wind is much more brutal without something to block it. She observed this while we were in the field and Beekee said it had gotten much colder all of the sudden. She pointed out that there was nothing to protect us from the wind, where the street had trees and buildings to protect us from it a little more. The field was big and open, straight out to the highway, which was also big and open, so we were vulnerable there. She also learned that thinking about nice warm things helps take your mind off how cold you really are. She didn’t even mention being cold again until we’d left the shelter of the street to walk into the big, open trailer park.
In the end we covered about ten miles today. We got our shopping done, even if it did take two trips. The last slog home seemed so much longer because of the cold. We sat down and had soup for dinner, then watched Santa feed the reindeer.
Oh, yeah, and as for Santa, I know a lot of people don’t agree with lying to your kids, but we have a different take on that. Right now I’m cold, tired, and ready for bed, but I promise I’ll explain why we have Santa in our house, and why we don’t believe it’s lying to our kids. It’s kind of an interesting story. More on that later! Until then, take care and stay warm!