The first day of school for my 5th grader and 2nd grader of this new school year. This is the first time my 7 year old has used an alarm clock, and we set it for 7:00 AM. He is a heavy sleeper (read sleepwalker and pee-er), so naturally I was worried he wouldn't wake up at all. In the room next door, my 10 year old daughter argues because - being the early bird person she is - she wants to get up at 6:30 AM - and despite the fact I set it at 7:00 she sneaks and changes it to 6:45 every time. (We have been through this a lot, but I am not sure this is something I have a right to complain about.) After tucking them all in bed, I realize that the school supply lists for both of them clearly specified that ALL PENCILS MUST BE SHARPENED. I search all over for one of my many pencil sharpeners (my favorite being a plastic dog in which you stick the pencil in its mouth and turn the tail as a handle.... but all I end up finding is a random spiderman party favor pencil sharpener that makes odd flat headed pencils. I sharpen all 24 pencils and clean up and put everything away, at which point I realize I have carpal tunnel in my wrist.) I go to bed not even close to early, but hope for the best... I had made up my life-saving lunch items basket* ahead of time, so I was ready for the morning... (more on this idea later).
Anyway, I wake up 10 minutes BEFORE my alarm goes off (I love that), and go to my 7 year old's room just in time to witness him fumble with the alarm clock. (My 10 year old is of course already dressed, has already eaten breakfast, and fed the cats, and is on the way to feed the bunnies outside.) The morning goes off without a hitch, (no yelling or spilling of cereal or "I HATE this shirt!" - well ok that did happen once, but they are happy, and they are on-time and excited to go to their school! I take the 1 year old with us to drop them off at school since the 2 year old and daddy are still asleep.
I have a productive day with my 2 year old and 1 year old at home, and surprisingly get a lot of cleaning done. I have a nice lunch at home with my husband and the toddlers, and soon it is time to pick up the older kids from school.
Their first school day had been a good one, and I told them we had to do a couple of errands.
I took all four children with me to the court house to turn in some documents, and after making it up stairs, through metal detectors, airport style security scans, and up an elevator (all the while telling the children that if they were patient they could use the coin-operated candy machine), waiting in line for our turn, being told we had to step to a different window, and finally being told we had to come back in a few days because an official had not turned in HIS documents yet, we put money in the candy machine only to find that it never gives you candy, and never gives your money back. AND THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED - the courthouse candy machines are crooks. We shake the machine to no avail, then find another candy machine on the first floor. My 10 year old shakes it before she even puts her money in because she wants "to make sure" and I am reminded of a mafia type character shaking down some poor shopkeeper. I glance over nervously and wonder if we will get in trouble with the armed guards. (I briefly contemplate going on EBAY and getting a coin-operated candy machine for our house. I could always fill it with nuts AND candy, so they never knew what they were going to get, and that way it would encourage them to put lots of quarters in and then that could be like their piggy bank.) Finally, all three kids have their candy and we head out to the parking lot.
We arrive at the grocery store, and traipse all around the store searching in vain for certain organic food items. We completely search the "natural and organic foods" section, and there are none of the advertised items. These are items they advertised in their own fliers. We ask one person shelving bread if he knows where they keep them, but he says he doesn't work at the store. We see a woman wearing a uniform shirt from the store, who is apparently shopping for herself, and she says that she doesn't know where anything is. We ask another lady stocking the spices and she says to ask the person we just asked. I spy an "in charge" looking lady standing near the notoriously "simple" self checkouts, and so I ask her, but she says she has no idea where anything is, and that we should check with customer service (at the other end of the store). Upon arriving at the customer service desk we wait in line and are informed that they don't actually carry any of the items they advertised. I asked why and they said "we just don't." I asked if their two other locations in town carried any of the organic items that they were advertising (basics items by Organic Valley, etc.) and he replied, "no, we don't really do too much of that organic stuff around here." I say, "ok, I guess I will go shop at Safeway."
At this point, my children are tired and whiny from over an hour of going back and forth through the aisles. They say they hate the store (just as they recently said about Walmart) so I take them to the car, and solemnly promise them that I will never bring them shopping at Family Thrift Center again. (I promised this same thing about Walmart after having a similar experience there.) There are some stores that are just TOO big. I can take these stores on myself, but it is not worth it to subject the kids, since frankly they view it as torture. These stores have become so big that they no longer hold any value to the kids, they just get frustrated because they can't find what they want, and I take so long to find anything I need. It is always mind-boggling when you see 22 checkout lanes and only 4 open (with 10 shoppers waiting in each of the 4, their carts piled so high that it appears they are participating in the old-school style shopping spree games where you stuff random items into your cart as fast as possible because it is all free.) In my mind I reminisce about how when I was a child, my sister and I thought it would be the neatest thing to do that kind of shopping spree. I go home with my 4 children and make dinner, reminding myself that grocery shopping is best done alone, or with one child - who can be a runner - they love to go get one thing and it is easy to keep track of. When you go with many children you end up with items in your cart you know you never put there... food items that resemble plastic monsters, random magazines with cakes on the front cover, and endless chocolate bars. (Oh wait- I put the chocolate in the cart.)