Friday, April 11, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Bravery

"The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity." -Robert Anthony

I am actually very brave. I used to think that bravery only came in one size. That size being the police/firefighter/military/folks that jump out of planes kind. Now, that size is pretty darn brave and one that I will simply never attain. That's fine, I am cool with that, but I have come to realize that there are other kinds of bravery. Different sizes, if you will. And the thing about sizes, as anyone who cooks or sews or wears shoes knows, is that sometimes you need a large and sometime you need an extra small. Comparing sizes is about as stupid as comparing baby weights; meaning we do it all the time and it drives us all crazy.

So, let's stop comparing sizes and just agree that we all have our own special braveries. And no, that doesn't mean because "we are all special, none of us are truly special." That's the argument of the small-minded who think the world's skills are as limited as its resources. The world's riches are not limited to iron and ore, but roll forever forward in a vast array of people as endlessly creative as the stars in the sky. (See, I told you I was brave! Who else uses such flowery prose on purpose?)

I know many brave people. Awesome Mom, Phenomenal Mom, and all my other working mom friends, leave their children every morning and head off to work outside the home; engaging in a balancing act only known to the best tightrope walkers. My ally, Rock Star Mom, boldly feeds her children McDonald's at the Crunchy Mom Park, smiling sweetly and strongly at anyone who approaches her; she is killing them softly with kindness, that one. I have actually never ever witnessed my friend Wonderful Mom raise her voice. Ever. She has 3 children under 7, a husband in residency, a million responsibilities, and a self-composure that rivals that of the greatest generals of the greatest armies in the world. Excellent Mom just completely redid her house by herself. Like her whole house. Like solo. With power tools and everything. My ally, Amazing Mom, writes with a transparency and honesty that speaks to your heart immediately and lingers in your mind long after. They are all incredibly brave, in so many ways. Ways that weave and fold over each other to create a peerless quilt of womanly bravery. Victor Hugo once wrote that "Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery." I am not sure I think there are male and female forms of bravery, but I do think that curiosity is one of the oldest and purest forms of bravery there is. One that my friends, and parents in general, tend to have in spades.

One could argue that even agreeing to bring a human being into the world is a massive show of bravery. Bravery of the highest order. Then, someone agrees to raise this child; either through birth, adoption, fostering, step-parenting, or being part of the whole village. Someone says, "Yes. Yes, I will make sure this tiny, defenseless, hungry, probably pooping, little person makes it to adulthood and manages to contribute in a positive way to society as a whole. Yes." What makes us do this? It isn't mandated. There is no law that you have to have children, and many people decide to use their bravery elsewhere. It isn't boredom; like oh, there is nothing on TV tonight, guess I'll raise a couple kids. (Although, Awkward Dad makes the point that boredom may be exactly how some kids start their journey to us, biologically speaking. He's gross.) It isn't required of us in any way, barring the few remaining royals who need to produce heirs, and yet, we continue to take this massive leap of faith and bring children into a world that is pretty scary and dangerous and has no guarantee of remaining livable for the duration of our progenies' lives. Are we all just crazy?

No. No, we are not crazy. We are curious, strong, willing, loving, flawed, generous, and brave people. Brave? Screw that; we are fearless. Have you ever met a child? A baby? There is nothing scarier in the world than that first time you are holding your baby alone. The nurses aren't in there with you. Your mom has stepped out for some coffee. Your partner is passed out in the corner. Maybe your baby starts to cry. Maybe she fusses a little in her sleep. Or maybe, scarier still, he just lies there in your arms and you become terrified that he isn't breathing. You stare at the little child that you are now responsible for and, all of a sudden, the weight of that threatens to crush your shoulders. But it doesn't crush them. You take a deep breath, you square those strong brave shoulders of yours, and you tend to your baby. Doesn't matter what that baby needs, you have got it. You have got this. You are brave.

I am brave. I don't leave my babies everyday with my head high and my brain whirling in a million directions, like my working sisters. I still live in fear of crunchy mom judgement and could never rock the confidence that Rock Star Mom wields. I raise my voice hourly, so the quiet, steely bravery of Wonderful Mom is out. My house skills hover around doing the dishes, on occasion, so the boundless brawn of Excellent Mom is totally beyond me. My writing will never be so purely honest as Amazing Mom. No, those are all the curious gifts of others. But I have my own, awkward, bravery. You must remember that bravery is not going forward because you have no fear. No, it is marching forward even though you are terrified. It is finding something to banish that fear, and that something must be as unique as yourself. You can't wield a weapon that doesn't fit in your own hand, so I don't use my brains, my confidence, my wisdom, my strength, or my creativity. No, I tell Fear a big joke and then steal whatever it is that I want while he is doubled over with laughter.

Like today. Today, I took 4 children to the movie theater. I strapped 3 spring-crazy kids, and 1 baby who couldn't care less as long as there is something to eat, into the van. I unloaded them all at the theater, weaved through a parking lot in a train that kept derailing at the toddler-car, didn't lose any in the lobby, successfully got the baby in free, and paid the cheapest price for the rest. I made my way to the farthest screen, herding all the Supers plus a friend in front of me like wayward sheep, while carrying an enormous backpack (filled with everything we might need, including 5 boxes of snuck-in candy), the baby, the popcorn, a drink, and all the tickets. I let them pick their seats. I let them hold the popcorn and the drink, knowing I would probably never see them again (don't worry, I ate some on the long walk down the hallway). I even handed a box of Skitties to Super Toddler. You don't get much braver than that.

Fearless is my middle name. Mom being my first. (It's a popular combination.)

You don't really get any braver than showing the internet postpartum pictures of yourself. 
Fearless Awkward Mom.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. the Movie Theater - rematch

"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night." 

Well, morning really. It was the first showing of the day....

The first time we took Super Toddler to a movie theater was last July. This is also the last time we took Super Toddler to a movie theater. For obvious reasons. Well, until today, that is. Thinking that perhaps the problem was that the entire family attempted that particular movie outing, I took the opportunity of Grandma's visit, and Super K.'s full day of school, to leave a couple of kids at home and take Super Toddler, solo, to a morning movie. We were the only two in creation not to have seen the Lego Movie yet, so I was hoping for an empty theater. Plus, she's nearly a year older, her behavior must have improved since then, right?

No, it has not improved. She still races through the aisles and talks at the top of her lungs and find the projection room miles more fascinating than anything going on screen-side. I did NOT buy popcorn, so at least we avoided the popcorn dumpage and the wearing the bucket as a hat while running down stairs in the dark that she so enjoys. But it still managed to be magical for me and I will tell you why. I would make a film and show you, but backers are in short supply around here and I have about 20 minutes before they get tired of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and find me here, hiding in the bathroom.

Super Toddler will always be herself; loud, fearless, and unable to sit still. What I think has changed is my expectations of her. (Also, a little planning regarding time of day and lack of food that can be turned into projectiles helps.) It was rather fitting that we were seeing the Lego Movie for my latest epiphany regarding parenting; a film that's message of truly being yourself and allowing your own creativity to shine truly resonates throughout my relationship with Super Toddler.

I really really like movies. So does Super Toddler. I love going to the movie theater to see a brand new movie. So does Super Toddler. I adore that moment when the lights dim and the previews start. So does Super Toddler. It is just that while I want to sit in the middle seat of the middle aisle in quiet so I can feel the energy and delight of the people around me as we all enter a magic portal to someone's imagination and hard work, Super Toddler wants to create her own energy and delight by running around the row and peering through the seats, all the time shouting her feelings and thoughts at the screen like it is her best friend and they are gabbing across a backyard fence. At the top of their lungs. During a tornado.

When I go to the movies with Super Kindergartener, he sedately sits next to me and holds my hand. He squeezes it when he gets scared. He shushes loud talkers and shakes his head sadly when people answer their cell phones. He eats his snuck-in-candy silently while his eyes grow to the size of plates at the wonder on the screen. He does not want to talk about the movie during the movie, so expect eye daggers if you try. He'll happily tell you his favorite part in the hallway, later. Super K. is more like me than is always comfortable for me to face.

Super Preschooler doesn't much care for the movie theater, as the films there can't compete with the visions in his own mind. He is just saving up to create his own movies, mostly likely sometime next year. When he does humor us, he watches the entire movie from my lap, arms tightly wrapped around my shoulders and his face cuddled into my neck. That way he can whisper all his ideas for improving the plot directly into my ear. And I have to say, the boy is usually right about what needs changing.

Today, I decided to just let Super Toddler be Super Toddler. There were 3 other families in the theater and none looked liked they were writing a review or anything. One little boy was quoting dialogue before the movie started, so I figured this wasn't their first showing by a long shot. I avoided the popcorn situation, let her have a little lemonade, settled in a seat near the end, and hoped for the best. I really wanted to see the whole thing, but was prepared to make a dash for it.

I have never walked out of a movie. I always stick it out, even during the bad ones, because my love of film and the movie theater experience is that strong. But I would have walked out of that theater for Super Toddler. It would have broken my heart to have my only daughter not love movies, but I was ready to have it break if that's who she is. Anyone who knows me knows how intensely I love movies, but at the end of the day, this is no Sophie's Choice. Super Toddler has my heart; I love her more than film.

But a wondrous thing happened instead. Given a little bit of room to roam, Super Toddler contained most of her wanders to our row and the few steps next to us. She peeked between chairs and used them to hide from the scary parts. She climbed in and out of my lap to be cuddled occasionally, but if I am being honest, it was really to steal more lemonade. Her shouting was all related to what was going on in the movie. Even her fascination with the projection room holds the promise of a future career in editing. It was all appropriate to the space and her age. I just had to let her enjoy the movie in her own way.

Because that's the truth, isn't it? We all like things our own ways, and watching a movie is no different. There are talkers and shushers and texters and sleepers. There are people who buy food there and people who bring their biggest purses to sneak in most of the fridge. There are people who like to shout support at the screen during the car chases and there are people who are driven mad by the sound of someone opening a cough drop. Some of us hide behind our fingers, some of us can't look away. Some of us gasp, some of us laugh, and all of us feel. And feel together. For a few short hours, we are a family; united in our commitment to seeing this story through. And like all families, we are wildly different and yet similar in passion. We are all moved by screen stories, and I just need to let Super Toddler be moved in her own way. Her own bombastic, energetic, totally unique, free-spirited way. And next time, I may even let her wear the popcorn bucket on her head. One step at a time......

Movies; the stuff that dreams are made of. 

And all the best dreams (and movies) involve independent little girls born to set the world on fire. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. The Clothing Industry

Awkward Mom's Open Letter to the Clothing Industry

Dear Clothing Industry-

Seriously, what is wrong with you people?

And I am not talking about your weirdo couture that appears to be only designed for emaciated giantesses with cheekbones capable of cutting glass and no ability to smile. No, you can make that stuff as weird as you want. I am talking about normal ready to wear women's clothing. And when I say talking about, I mean calling you out on your shenanigans. Shame on you.

Shame on you for selling tissue-thin t-shirts that show every bump and lump that I am wearing a shirt to hide. Double shame on you for trying to sell me these at twice the price and half the fabric as the men's t-shirts.

How dare try to tell my less endowed sisters that they need anything called "boyfriend pants" or "boyfriend tanks?" How dare you try to convince them that they don't even lay claim to their own clothing because of their shape?

Shame on you for your awful lighting and inconsistent sizing and horrible music and 8000 mirrors, all designed to throw me off balance and convince me that I need to spend $145 on an ill-made dress with uneven seams and a wonky zipper.

How dare you try to convince me that because I have a DD bust and birthing hips that I should spend my life in a tent. It's called a hour-glass-figure, and it is as beautiful as the 4 children it has born. Marilyn Monroe had one. Helen Mirren has one. And I would bet dollars to donuts that Helen of Troy had one too.

Shame, shame, shame on you all for Spanx. I know a modified corset when I see one.

How dare you not spend your every waking moment and every inch of air-time creating PSAs for teenage girls, telling them that LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. They are slightly thicker tights with no-feet. Get it together, Clothing Industry; people are getting in accidents looking at these monstrisities.

Sucks for you that I spent 4 years of my life studying fabric and style and am totally on to you. I am on to you like a well-fitted, tailored suit. And I am calling shenanigans! Shenanigans!

I just took all the money I had set aside for clothing and spent it on donuts. At least the donut industry isn't lying to me and trying to tell me that a size 8 is large. Shame. On. You.


Awkward Mom

P.S. You are not getting your polyester hands on Super Toddler. I am warning you now; don't even try. I will spend every remaining day of my life telling her how beautiful she is. I will haunt her like a ghost after I die and whisper things in her ear like "are the chest darts even?" "Check the seams." "That color does not exist in nature." "You are better than billowy bohemian tops that show your bra-straps." I will tell her every single day that she is gorgeous. I will lavish love on every apple cheek, every dimpled knee. From her wispy hair to her wide feet and every roll in-between. That girl is going to know that she is a goddess if she decides to wear a bag or a $1000 dress with hand-stitched lace. And don't think you are going to get your hands on much of her money either. Super Toddler is no fool and she much prefers to patronize the Encased Meat Industry. You are welcome to try, but I have her back and all you have are cheap t-shirts and badly designed pants.

She is beautiful and she knows it. 
Don't even bother. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Words

Sad and slightly spasmodic Saturday. 

Words are cheap, very very cheap. A dime a dozen. So I buy them up and spend them foolishly. I swim in them like Scrooge McDuck’s millions, relishing the glory of owning a whole language. Mine, all mine. Sometimes I am heedlessly generous and throw them off the rooftops to whoever might catch them, often to see them ground into the dirt by careless boots. But yet I am lavish with my words; hosting feasts so full of words that they spill off the table in a gluttonous display of literary wealth. I am filthy rich in words and I long to share them with those I love and treasure almost as much as my treasured letters.

They are my one gift, my one talent; an ability to create vast sculptures of words, precarious and tall as trees. Not an author; that word just a tad beyond my price range. Really more wordsmith; grimy and dirty with the effort of swinging all those heavy words together. Sweaty and satisfied with my word walls and sentence structures. Mostly satisfied.

Mostly. Because then come days like today. Todays. Gray and lonely days when I would give up every last word. Every one. Even the rare and beautiful adjectives and the vital verbs. The noisy nouns. Hand them all over and live in a world of silence. Spend every single one if only to gain 1 long and lasting hug.

Yeah, just like that. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Four

Hello, True Believers; it's time for you to meet the Fantastic Four! No, not that one. This one is more awkward. 

When Super Toddler entered our family, I first contended with the villain Three. Three is a mighty villain who specializes in subtle juggling; just a little more, you can do it. Go ahead and carry the butter dish and the plates and the milk jug to the table all at once. Nothing is gonna happen. Nothing like the cat racing through the kitchen at this precise moment. No, no. Don't worry. You can do it all. Three has crept up on me time and time again these past 2 years of adjustment; he is such a creeper. A big ol' creep. And he always wins. He always fools me. He always convinces me that going to Target with all three of them will be a good idea this time. He always gets the upper hand and wins the battle. I used to think that it was just me and my awkward ways, but it turns out that this happens to other moms as well. Three is just that powerful.

So, imagine my nervousness as I awaited the villain Four. If Three is so hard, what on earth does Four have in store? (And I don't think lame rhymes are gonna do much against him, eh?) Well, Super Baby is here; he's actually 5 weeks old. We have been a family with four children for over a month. And Four has yet to show up.

Or maybe he has. Maybe Four is so big, powerful, and scary that my little mind couldn't take it and I have retreated into my own imagination; creating a reality for myself where things are actually okay, I actually posses some parenting skills, and chocolate bars grow on a tree in my front yard. Could be, but my Emma Frost powers never were very strong and what normal woman can pull off that outfit anyway?

No. (Seriously, with that outfit, just no.) What I think is really going on is that Four really did arrive. Four is here and has been here since Super Baby eased himself into that hospital room with a tiny little peep and a bemused expression.

It's like this: let's pretend you are walking around in a new city, all alone, and you are lost. You take a wrong turn and you are in a dark alley. You turn to leave, but a huge, heavily tattooed biker is standing in the way. It is shadowy and you can't see his face, but his chains start to clink in a menacing way as he walks toward you. You scream and flee. He chases you. You hit a dead end. You turn around and prepare to fight him with what little strength you have before giving up completely. All hope is lost. You look up into the face of this monster, who smiles sweetly at you and says, "Miss? You dropped your wallet back there. Here it is. Do you need any help? You look a little lost."

Four is no villain; he's a Hero.

Despite appearances, Four is not here to make me crazy or hurt me in any way. Four is here to help me enter this next phase of my motherhood, and this phase appears to be a calm, gentle place full of acceptance, balance, and good-enough-ness. Which makes so much sense, if you think about it. Three is the number of things that set the world on fire: the Trinity, trimesters, dimensions, Bee Gees. But what comes in fours but items that bring balance to the force and beyond; seasons, square sides, directions, mutant turtles, winds, card suits, wheels, A-teams, elements, states of matter, and, most importantly, Beatles.

You know what else comes in Fours? Fantastic Fours. And this too makes so much sense to me. Each member of my fantastic four has entered my motherhood journey at just the right time and with just the right personality.

Super Kindergartener (or Mr. Fantastic) with his boundless curiosity, quiet genius, and enormous flexibility came to me when I was just learning what being a mom meant. He took the lead because he is a natural leader and saw that I needed someone to walk me through things. My transition from no kids to 1 kid was by far the harder transition of my life, and you want a kind genius on your side for that.

Super Preschooler (or the Thing) battered down any walls I might have had around my heart with his relentless charm, deceptive sweetness, and sheer force of will. He looks like none of his siblings. He acts like none of his siblings. In fact, he acts like no one else I know, and he wears his uniqueness with no shame or fear. He burst into my life just when I was thinking that all children behaved like the super cerebral, logical, and orderly Super K. Not so. Super P. widened my view of what children could be and made me more accepting of their differences and the different ways to parent. Some children are messy, imaginative, and have emotions like tsunamis. Some children will keep you guessing your whole life. Some children were born to break the rules.

Super Toddler (or the Human Torch) picked up where her brother left off and obliterated any rules that may have still been in existence. Where Super P. prefers to violate norms and change things by simply being an unmovable presence of cheerful stubbornness, Super Toddler like to lead with her lightsaber and go down in a blaze of glory. She'll slash through your conventions so fast that you won't know what hit you, until she kisses you right on the mouth, winks, and then dances away in a cloud of her own laughter. She is fierce and more than a little dangerous. A fire cracker who likes to joke, eat, and embrace all that life has to offer. And she wants it all; Right Now. Super Toddler showed up just when I was starting to feel a little too comfortable. A little too safe. And a little too bored. Sometimes you need a little fire to remind you that you are alive. That your life is now and happening all around you without your say-so. Better get in there and live it, or it is going to pass you by as fast as a comet of laughter and light.

Super Baby (or the Invisible Woman) is a gentle presence who pulls all to himself almost as if he has the power to create invisible and powerful force fields. He is a subtle unifier who can silence a room with a look from his endless eyes. He doesn't need to shout to convince us of his power and personality; he just lets his amazing hair speak for itself. Super Baby coos and his siblings rush to him to see what he needs. Or thinks. Or wants to do next. He brings them together and strengthens their natural skills just by his existence in their lives. Super Baby's lesson to me is soft and sweet; you are enough, Mommy. Hold me. Love me. I want no more than that. Perhaps a little milk, the occasional diaper change, but you could do that in your sleep. You are all we need, Mommy. As is. Totally awkward, with no need for improvement or stress. Just you. Those eyes of his say a lot, but they are endless, so it figures. Super Baby is the great balance of this family; a family thrown off-kilter by that villainous Three. We need fear Three no more, for Super Baby knows how to wield the power of Four.

The Fantastic Four is here to stay. Believe the hype.

At least, until Awkward Mom and Dad decide to see what a fifth child would bring to the family. There is always a danger with odd numbers, as you then create a bonafide middle child. However, with 5, the middle child would be this one:

They'll probably risk it. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Time

Awkward Mom's flux capacitor is at full flux this morning. 

Time is one of my super villains. His hours move so slowly and his days move so quickly; it's all so confusing and leaves me wondering when my life is going to start. Meanwhile, his years are flying by me like they are driving a souped-up DeLorean or something. It's a big problem and a battle I usually lose.

But not this morning. This morning, Time pulled a rare hero turn, like that time Magneto helped the X-men defeat the Beyonder. (Only follow that link if Time is on your side and you have a couple hours to kill.) This morning, while Awkward Dad bustled around getting Super Kindergartner ready for school and Super Toddler operated the Netflix to her heart's content, I lay in bed, feeding Super Baby. Super Preschooler wandered in and cuddled up next to us so he could "see Super Baby's eyes." Then, while the rising sun warmed the walls and promised that spring might actually come this year, Super P. told Super Baby the following story:

"Hello, Brother. Someday, when you are big like me, we will go ride some rockets. I have some good ones. They will get us all the way to the moon or anywhere else you want to go. We could also dig up some dinosaur bones, if you want to. That's fun. Then, we'll visit Invisible Grandpa because he always knows what fun things there are to do. Bebe and I ride motorcycles with him all the time, he's great. He is here, on the ceiling fan, and he thinks you are cool. See him? Hi Invisible Grandpa! When we are really big, Brother, we can be rock stars. You will play drums. I made a instrument to play, it's a Trambo. It's really cool. Then, we'll be Jedis. Or maybe Fetts. We'll also drive planes. They have parachutes in them and you can jump out and see the whole world. We will do everything, Brother. Drink your milk now."

Time stood still. He had to in the face of that much imaginative and hopeful power.

How could I possibility fear Time with the Supers here to protect me. They aren't afraid of the future; a wonderful place with rockets and trambos. They don't worry about the past; beautiful memories that grow bigger and more beautiful in the telling. They aren't pondering the present; they are ripping the wrapping paper off and turning the box into a plane to parachute out of. Time is nothing to them and his power wanes before their boundless enthusiasm. So, I figure that I will stick close to the Supers, they seem to know what they are doing against Time and his minions. I'll let Super P. drive. Anyone who can ride rockets and jump out of planes should have no trouble driving time machines.

"The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style? 

 I asked Super Preschooler when Super Baby will be big enough to do all these things, and he thinks that next week should be enough time for Super Baby to advance to adventure age. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Meijer

We are starting to think that Meijer is Awkward Mom's Waterloo. Some battles just aren't meant to be won.

I am not stupid; I expected the stares. I mean, you don't wander into Meijer (or anywhere for that matter) with 4 children under the age of 6 and expect people not to stare. No, the stares didn't surprise me.

I was kinda surprised all the children fit in one cart though. Guess I shouldn't have been; it was one of those super-long carts with balcony seating and room for a pony. Plus, the Supers are pocket sized. No, the cart wasn't too surprising either. But there were a few things that were.

I was surprised:

1.) That people would look at my children like they were rotting piles of offal, rather than adorable and relatively well-behaved children hanging out of a shopping cart. I mean, check it:

I mean, I am pretty biased, but these are beauties.
They were even completely clothed and shoed for this outing.

2.) That a woman in a motorized scooter, going about 55 MPH down the cereal aisle, would try to run over Super Preschooler and then yell at me to "watch your children!"

3.) By the two (TWO!) mumblers who thought I should "find some birth control."

4.) By the woman who straddled the Hair Care aisle and wouldn't move, so I had to abandon my children at the end of the row and squeeze by her to get some shampoo. Which resulted in:

5.) The grandmother who decided I had abandoned my children and scolded me, upon my return to them, to "never let them out of my sight. Someone will snatch them in a second." I just smiled and nodded, instead of pointing out that my eyesight was probably a little better than hers, and thus they had been in my sight the whole time. Plus, why does she know so much about kidnapping? Did I disturb her while she was engaging in one? No, wasn't worth it.

6.)  By the man who announced to the whole store, at the top of his lungs, that I had "lost one!" Buddy, if I can see her over there lurking by the horse while I am paying for my groceries about 10 feet away, then I haven't "lost" her. Let's cool it and not call out the dogs just yet.

7.) And by the general abundance of annoyed and irritated looks thrown in my direction. They are slightly noisy, fine. Sometime they fly off the cart and jump around. But overall, they were actually really well-behaved. Super Baby slept the whole time. Super Toddler only got excited near the horse. Super Preschooler was excited by the presence of Lucky Charms, hence the near-hit-and-run. And Super Kindergartener only asked for 13 different things, which is pretty good, for him. Does the mere presence of children annoy some people? Must be.

However, these weren't the only things to surprise me at Meijer today. I was also surprised:

1.) By how strong I am. Seriously, I basically haul 4 different level weights around all day. Sometimes I move them in and out of a moving shopping cart, just to keep things interesting.

2.) That the frat boy in the yogurt section let us go around the corner first and didn't seem irritated at all. His passing comment that "you must be ripped, that thing is as big as a barge!" was actually fairly flattering.

3.) That 3 different people, including a cashier, tried to give Super Toddler a penny for the horse while she forlornly pet his flank and kissed his nose.

4.) By the grandmother over in the pharmacy who told me that "you are so lucky, they are adorable!"

5.) That my children are so easily bribed. Today's shopping trip only cost me 3 candy Easter eggs and a penny ride on the horse that I didn't actually have to pay for. Cheap dates.

6.) By the man buying Lotto tickets who found and returned Super Kindergartener's hat. Losing his place in line to do so.

7.) By each and every store employee who asked me if I needed any help. Pretty sure there were about 7 of them.

8.) That Super Baby waited until we got home to create his first ever blow-out diaper. It was massive and would have created quite the messy scene. The boy's timing continues to be perfection.

9.) That the friendly t-shirted man in the parking lot hollered at us that "this doesn't look like snow, now does it?" Upon my reply that "I certainly hope not," he replied that "it might be worth it, if the kids enjoy it."

10.) By the gentleman that helped me unload my groceries into my van and then returned my cart for me.

11.) By each and every stare at my crowded cart that ended with a face-splitting smile. Bonus points to the older gentleman who winked at me and told me that my "parade float" made his day.

12.) That the woman who called me a saint was so kind to us that Super Toddler decided to hug her upon our departure from the store.

All in all, lots of surprises at Meijer today. Some more pleasant than others. Let's hope for that tomorrow because I forgot to get about half of my list........

Basically, life is a fairy tale; there are trolls and there are fairy godpeople. All you can ask is that you run into more fairy godpeople. Today, we were pretty weighted in the fairy godpeople direction; way more win than Waterloo. 

If Napoleon had had this one at Waterloo, things might have ended differently....