Friday, January 27, 2006

How it's done

I used to see mothers with two small children in the supermarket and wonder, "How do they do that?" People now look at me with that same question on their faces, and sometimes on their lips. In case it is on yours, I will explain.

First, we have to leave. This entails making sure everyone has been fed, changed and/or pottied, and dressed in shoes, jacket, and hat. (Actually D2 hardly ever wears shoes, even to church. I'll pretend it's my concern for his proper muscular development and not just laziness.) This must be done in the proper sequence, or a step will have to be repeated again before we go. Half of the steps must be left until the absolute last minute, when they must all be done simultaneously.

Then we must get in the car. I no longer measure the difficulty of a trip by how long we spend driving, but by how many times we get in and out of the car. D2 rides out to the car in his carrier, which he is just barely small enough to still fit in, and just barely light enough for me to still lift. The diaper bag is, hopefully, on my back, and D1 walks on her own volition, holding my hand whenever I can manage a free one. Sometimes she trips and falls, especially while going over the curb.

We arrive at the car, where I try to determine whether it would be better to set D2 out in the elements while I put D1 in the car, or trust to D1's training in standing still with one hand on the car while I put D2 in the car--the answer depending on the inclemency of the weather, the busyness of the parking lot, and which side of the car I happened to go to first.

We drive to the store. There, I must repeat the getting-in-the-car process in reverse, with the added twist that now D2 has to go in the pouch I am wearing, and thus if I get him out first, I have to lift D1 out while D2 gets smashed between us. He doesn't like this. He doesn't like it again when I try to lift D1 into the shopping cart. (I always circle until I can find a parking spot next to an occupied cart return.) Bonus fun if the shopping cart has one of those automatically sticking up plastic flaps, which require you to have three hands: one to hold the plastic flap down, two to maneuver the child. I quickly grow a third hand.

After this, we are home free for awhile. D2 is happy in the pouch, watching the proceedings. D1 is happy riding around the store, commenting on the produce and greeting all and sundry. By the time we are halfway through the store, however, the cart begins to get very heavy and veers dangerously from side to side. (Remember I'm propelling 40 pounds of children and diaper bag on top of a week's groceries for three hearty eaters.) We do our best not to flatten anyone's grandma, while politely answering her exclamations.

We make our way through the checkout line, get everyone out of the cart and into the car, and unload the groceries into the back. We drive home. Here the getting-out-of-the-car procedure is reversed, and I face another conundrum. I dare not leave the children alone in the car--I should not leave them alone together in the house--the food, if left in the car, will spoil--and everyone needs to be fed and changed and/or pottied again, plus outdoor clothing removed. I work out a compromise based on the most urgent needs (usually like this: D1, potty; ultra-perishable food; D2, lunch; somewhat perishable food; D1 and I, lunch; put D1 down for nap; remaining food).

As soon as the last bag of food has made it into the house, I consider myself done for the week. D1 can help me put things away later. I go take a nap.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A shopping trip gone awry

One other thing to dislike about moving is the difficulty of getting used to shopping at new stores. I always wander around new stores like a squirrel navigating a traffic jam, colliding with the displays and forgetting what I was after.

There is a grocery store across the street. There is another down the road one way, a Wal-mart down the road the other way, and a fourth somewhere on the other side of the freeway. I decided the best plan would be to visit one store each week, stocking up on whatever thing that store had the best deals on.

Last week I shopped at the grocery store across the street, in the evening so that DOB could watch the ducklings. This week I decided to visit Wal-mart.

As I was pulling into Wal-mart, the thought occurred to me, "What if this isn't a Wal-mart with food?" But I was already there, so I went on in. Sure enough, it had no food, although it did have the non-food items on the list.

Now, the most sensible plan would have been to head back to the grocery store across the street and finish my shopping. The second most sensible plan would have been to call DOB and ask for directions to the grocery store on the other side of the freeway. (This is one of those places where several main roads and a freeway all collide in a profusion of big box stores, and even a good navigator has trouble keeping his head. I am not a good navigator.)

Naturally, I pursued neither of those courses. Instead, I ventured off into the darkness lit with signs in hopes of finding the store on my own. After awhile, I determined that I must have gone too far and tried to turn back. Unfortunately, I didn't have room to turn, and before I knew what had happened, I was heading south on the interstate.

It's been a few years since I drove on the interstate after dark, and I never liked it when I did it frequently. I have a hard enough time telling whether someone is beside me in the daylight; in the dark, all the lights look the same distance. So I just turn my blinker on for awhile and then change lanes, hoping for the best and ready to stop if I hear any crunchy noises.

I looked anxiously for the next exit where I could turn around, but alas, it intersected with another interstate, and I knew it would only take me farther afield. A few miles further south, I finally found an honest exit where a befuddled traveler could turn around and drive home.

Why had I not called DOB for help all this time? The answer soon appeared to me, when my phone started ringing: I had left my cell phone in my skirt pocket, which was under my coat, which was under my seatbelt. The contortions required to get it out would have stumped Houdini.

So the phone rang, and rang, and I got off at my exit. Unfortunately I had never gotten off coming from that direction before, and before I knew it I was wandering some dim world of office parks I had never seen before. I did manage to extract my phone at a stop light and call DOB. As I had expected, D2 was raising hue and cry at the delay of his supper. DOB gave me directions home and I returned, without food and a gallon or so of gas lighter, but very thankful to find my way home again.

I think we'll just shop at the grocery store across the street.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The New Place: Lofty and Low

1. Functioning dishwasher
2. Open floor plan for easy spotting of exploring toddlers
3. Maintenance included
4. Park across the street
5. Big closets
6. West-facing windows
7. Surprisingly good sound-proofing
8. Nine-foot ceilings mean DOB can lift ducklings in proper paternal fashion without banging their heads
9. Two full bathrooms
10. Textured neutral-colored kitchen floor hides dirt beautifully

1. No garage
2. No attic
3. Who wants to be able to walk to Sam's Club?
4. Slow maintenance
5. "Secured" building with a broken lock (see 4)
6. Neighbors on the top of them, neighbors to the left . . .
7. Boxes, boxes everywhere
8. Too much concrete
9. QOC has to do all her own housework now
10. D1 can reach the bathroom door lock (oh wait, that would have happened anyway)

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Suppressed Rant and Two Stories

What I would like to do is wax eloquent about how much I hate moving. But whining makes poor copy. Instead, I will give thanks that DOB is not in the military and move on to tales from the move itself . . .

The Key Incident
It was a day last week when evening fell and I had had all the moving-out mess that I could take. So while DOB and his brothers finished putting together a load, I took the children and a very full station wagon and drove to the new apartment to see how I could fare in moving-in mess.

I arrived, carried in D2, with D1 (rather soggily attired) clinging to my hand. I tried the key. No luck. It would go in, but it wouldn't turn. I tried a few other likely-looking keys, but they wouldn't do anything either. I called DOB, who called maintenance, who agreed to come out in a few minutes.

In the meantime, I had two hungry children to keep occupied on the doorstep. Fortunately a bag of chips happened to be among the stuff in the wagon, and D2's snack is always at hand. So we sat in the hallway and ate and told stories. It was actually quite a bit more fun than moving.

If this were a story, a lady would have passed us in the hallway and stopped to chat about our predicament, and she would prove to be a kindred spirit and become a lifelong friend. But nobody came by, and the voices I could hear did not sound like kindred spirits--at least not to each other.

We had finished The Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks when the maintenance man arrived. If this were a story, he would have identified that we had been given the wrong keys and apologized. Instead, he pointed out that I was trying with the wrong key. (I could have sworn I tried with the right key, too, and that it wouldn't go in at all, but I have since discovered that it is a little tricky to get in the hole.)

Anyway, we were home. Despite the lateness of the hour and her general lack of a nap, D1 immediately set to work unpacking the Tupperware into a suitable kitchen cupboard. I can't wait until she's 12.

How to Obtain a Library Card
The Saturday after moving we had to run around to various stores to get those various essential things that somehow you don't have and are absolutely essential to get the house running.

Being us, we wound up at the library. Alas, it is not an elegant Carnegie library like the one in our old town, but a bland slot in a dreary stripmall. But, it is part of the Cincinnati system and should have great selection potential.

Anyway, we had not even arrived before it occurred to us that we would be unable to check anything out, because we had no card and no proof of residence with which to obtain one. Not easily daunted, DOB determined to go see what he could do about it.

Fortunately he happened upon a sympathetic librarian.

"Do you have any children with you?" she asked. (The ducklings and I were already hanging out in another part of the library.)

"Well, yes, but they're really little," DOB replied.

"That's OK, just make it look like they signed their names," the librarian said. "We don't require proof of residence for people under 18."

So D1 carefully assisted DOB in printing her name, as legal guardians we signed her as authorized to check out anything she wanted from the library, and we were set. When we had accumulated a sizable stack of books and a couple of DVDs, she sat proudly on the library counter and handed over the card to check them out.

I did get her a couple of books, too. Most notably Make Way for Ducklings, which she has wanted to hear over and over. The first full-length story book! Now we are in for some fun.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

We Return Again (Because apparently I've used that title before)

We are moved. We have internet service as of today. We also have the sound system hooked up and the dishes put away. Besides that, it's boxes.

Our address is different, our phone number is different, and now our email seems to have gotten lost, too.

Don't be too hasty with congratulations, as the house has not sold yet. We mean to get back to that one of these days. Right now DOB is busy getting going with his new job and I am busy trying to reconstruct my old one. He's having fun. I'm not . . . yet.

More later . . .

Monday, January 09, 2006

How To Move With Small Children

The ideal way to move with small children is to wait until they turn 10.

Next best would be to have them stay in a cozy, safe, distant place until the entire move is over.

Third would perhaps be to have good weather and health, and somebody free to watch them for you on site.

Move about ten more notches down the list and you will find us: in the middle of January, tired and cranky from all our pre-moving activities, and pausing in our work to discover that somebody has just unpacked a box we just packed or exploded through a diaper because we forgot to change him in the last five hours.

We know it will end sometime, and we are very grateful for the help we receive. But right now we just want to go home.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Useful Information

At least in the unlikely event that you made a New Year's Resolution to learn useless but intriguing math trivia:

There are, of course, prime numbers. There are also perfect numbers, and even semiperfect numbers. Some numbers are happy; the rest, of course, are unhappy. Some are lucky, but most are not. Some are happy-go-lucky numbers. A few are even weird.

The age I turn next is happy and perfect, the only such combination in the standard human lifetime. It's not weird though, not by a long shot. Nor is it lucky.

DOB and I were married in a happy year, but we were both born in unhappy years.