Adventures in Mothering

Today I realized something. It is not always the going out by myself with four kids that is difficult, it is coming home.

Without adult back-up, merely exiting the van goes something like this. I grab as much as I can carry and dump it on the dining table. I open the first passenger door and children flood out while I nag them to “please carry at least one thing in for crying out loud!”

Then I get the baby. Nine times out of ten, she’s fussy and cries at the door until I’ve brought everything else in. Then I try to contain the post-outing clutter. Somehow we all manage to create a massive trail of stuff when we come in. It’s why I usually decide to stay home.

Today’s adventure started with an email from my friend and gardening expert Julie. She goes above and beyond to help me with my first garden.

This morning she emailed that if I went to Menards TODAY, I could get an extra 15% anything I could fit in a brown paper bag.

We were already committed to driving 30 minutes SE from us to a home school co-op function. Going to Menards from there would be 25 miles North of there, through Wichita and all those stop lights.

Excited about the prospect of stocking up on seeds, etc. I knew we had to do it, but as the day wore on realized I’d be nuts to attempt it.

Going anywhere with these kids feels like a Herculean effort!

But after co-op, the children were in pleasant spirits so I made the decision. “Kids, we are going to Menards!”

My bag was so full it actually began to burst during check-out. Thankfully the checker counted the things piled at least 3 inches over the bag’s top.

35 minutes later, we pulled in and managed to do our necessary shopping plus some and head home.

It was that point things began to crumble. The urge to pee hit me hard. Kids began to bicker, baby began to fuss.

30 minutes later and 3 total hours of being out, we pulled in. I made a mad dash for the potty. It’s amazing how fast I can run in fashion boots!

It was 5pm on the dot.

That was followed by unloading the van and bringing stuff into the house where I had to wade through coats and hats my kids just threw on the kitchen floor as they marched in.

I got everything in and preheated the oven to make a pizza for the kids.

My 3 year old refused to use any toilets while we were out and soiled her undies while I was lighting the wood burning stove to warm our chilly home.

While she was on the potty, the one year old did a big number two in her diaper. The big kids started yelling at me how smelly it was. Aw, thanks….

Miraculously, I got the fire going in record time and was up changing the diaper and getting both little girls in the bath.

Pizza went in the oven.

My Brown Bag
I got everything into one bag, barely.

My 9 year old came to my rescue and briefly watched the girls in the bath while I ran around like a crazy person hanging up coats, putting purchases away, doing some dishes, clearing the table, and finally changing into more comfortable shoes.

15 minutes later the girls were out of the bath and everyone was eating and thanking me for pizza.

I forgot during the rush about a fun and spontaneous purchase from Menard’s clearance section. Leather, wool lined mittens. A pair Uber Warm Mittensfor my husband and  pair for my Dad! I got them for less than $5 each!

At some point I glanced in a mirror at myself and laughed out loud as the first thought that came to my mind was Christopher Walken. Had I really gone out looking this? HA. Yes.

imagesMy Walken



The children finished and I did dishes while my own stomach began growling quite fiercely with hunger. But my mission was clear: finish dishes, empty the dishwasher, get a movie on, put them to bed.

It was 6pm. One hour of fast and furious post-outing activity and I felt like I’d run a race at top speed.

The children did not starve to death. The van was emptied, baths were given, dinner was served, and TV time had.

My garden will be packed with more varieties of squash than I care to mention, thanks to the bag sale at Menards.

Children are now sleeping. Need I ask for more?

It’s all in a day’s work.

Mommy Goes Out

Because we live in the country and I rarely go through the effort of looking cute just to stay home all day, I get pretty excited when we get to go out.

When my 3 year-old and 5 year-old see me in my bathroom, in a nice shirt applying make-up and styling my hair, they ask where we are going and my daughter runs for her shoes screaming “we are going out!”

Here is my mistake. In my excitement to go out, which means running errands with Daddy’s help, I forget that going shopping with 4 young children is NOT FUN! I must get amnesia in between outings because I find myself saying to my sweet husband things like “hey honey, on Saturday, let’s go see the chiropractor, do Dillons, I’ll run into Natural Grocers, we can hit Sam’s, maybe the kids can have their hair cut. It will be FUN!”

Some of it, I’m sure, is our own failure as parents to rear children who behave and quietly obey us while in public. Or maybe we are home so much that my kids simply forget how to behave out and about in society.

At any rate, we had everyone dressed and fed before 8am. With my chiropractic appointment at 9:15am, we were off to a great and happy start. First we returned books to the library and made a quick stop for coffee, a treat for mommy on Mother’s Day Weekend.

During the coffee drive-thru, my Little Little (#3) unbuckled and climbed around the van. I started to feed edgy but smiled and we resumed our outing. I mean, come on, I looked so cute and had make-up on!

Next we stopped at Natural Grocers where I went in alone since the The Baby(#4) was asleep. It was fun. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes despite a deep yearning to let my family wait in the van so I could slowly stroll up and down each aisle, stopping at the aroma therapy section for, yes, aroma therapy.

On the way to stop number 4, The Boy (#2) began whining, about everything, but mostly not wanting to get adjusted by our chiropractor. So we said fine, The Girl(#1) could go in with me. But by then #4 was awake and wanted Mommy so we all went in and they all stood there and watched me get adjusted. At the front desk afterwards while I expressed to the receptionist my longing to get my nose pierced, my kids #s 1-3 discovered the bowl of candy and forgot they were humans in polite society and turned into shrieking maniacs hungry for sugar. They don’t get candy at home.

Stop number 5 was Dillons, a grocery store. In an attempt to divide and conquer, we got two carts. # 1 pushed my cart as I had #4 in the sling. #2 whined his head off about not being able to push a cart and # 1 went out of her way to put #2 in the way of the her grocery cart causing a scene in produce. My husband had #3 in his cart and stared at the scene with his lips pursed so tightly together they turned white.

About that time, the stress began to eat away at my nerves. Something happened where I was unable to think. A buzzing began in my ears. We were in the way, my kids were loud, #1 wanted to ram #2 with her cart. We pressed on. From there we split up, I with 1 and 4 and my husband with 2 and 3. I can only imagine the cartoon my Best Friend Jamie would come up with for the scene.

But this comes pretty close. At least, I had that expression on my face and wondered if I was every going to get laughing wrinkles.


When we met to check out, my husband said he could not find tortillas and I claimed the store had no juice aisle! Once again, we split up to find the items. I was about to find the intercom and say “some one please bring me whole wheat tortillas and some white grape juice or I’m letting the kids loose in the store!” Also, fyi, always shop at the same store where you can find the juice blindfolded.

There was a Great Clips next door and we decided to get a bang trim for #3 “seeing as we are already out.” This turned out to be the most pleasant stop. #1 also wanted her hair cut and I nursed #4 while #2 played quietly on is tablet and was actually seen laughing. I calmed down, the urge to get in the fetal position subsided and I finally finished the cup of coffee that was purchased over an hour ago.

Onto the final stop, Sam’s Club. My husband thought it would be fun to shop and then buy the kids lunch at the little Deli. It’s so cheap and the kids love their pizza. In the 10 minutes it took Brent to stand in line to order food, my kids and I drew an audience. It was a woman at the table next to us.

She stared unabashedly as I scolded #2 to stop touching #3. #1 would not stop talking about how difficult it was to choose between a chicken sandwich or slice of pizza and could she “get the sandwich but also eat some of #2’s pizza?” Then #1 would yell at #2 who was almost shoving #3 off her side of the bench proclaiming he was saving room for Dad. The woman watched me grab my son’s hand, lock eyes with him in a cold hard stare as I said “SIIIIIIT DOWWWWWN NOWWWAAA.” I no longer tried to appear the cool, calm Be-Like-Jesus example that I know I really should be for my kids. I could feel the woman judging my every move.

I know better now than to judge tired mommies.


At that moment #4 made the lunge for my left breast, hungry for her lunch. I turned my back to the kids but could still see with the eyes in the back of my head that #2 was now standing on the bench “making room for dad,” so I shouted “#2! Switch places with #1, all of you sit and be quiet! And by the way, NO ONE is getting frozen yogurt.” This worked because they thought I was just saying it, that if they started to behave at that moment, they’d still get ice cream.

I will save you further details of my children eating their lunch and then most of mine. I felt tired and longed to crawl in my bed and pull the sheets over my head.

On the way home, we stopped at a playground because after all of it, we still adore our children and wanted them to enjoy the playground.

Upon arriving at home, hours after we left, #1 and #2 miraculously became friends again and played outside for an hour while #3 played quietly with Barbies in her room. #4 napped and I cleaned.

Tonight, my children will fall asleep after fighting sleep. Before my husband and I lay our weary bodies in bed, we will look at our children. We will not see anything but angels! Sweet, innocent, lovely angels! And just like that, amnesia will set in.


Happy Mother’s Day!