March 11, 2021

celebrating international women's day with the parking lot lady

With temps in the mid 60s, I did what one does in 2021. I made a reservation for the zoo. FIVE days in advance. Who's organized? I reserved two adults, which doesn't cost extra because of my membership. Plus my little guys.

I thought maybe Delilah would join me. When I invited her tried to rope her into being my second set of hands, I reminded her of my NO FLIP FLOPS ALLOWED rule. 

*I can't locate the post about Delilah coming with me to the zoo 2 yrs ago wearing flip flops. Before we left the parking lot one broke. I was like I'M JUGGLING A MILLION KIDS AND THE WORLD'S BIGGEST STROLLER AND YOU CAN'T EVEN WALK INTO THE ZOO? Zoo staff stapled her flip flop. Day saved. I wasn't really angry, it was more of a cry-laughing incident. 

Delilah texted that she hoped to come, but alas that day ended up being too busy for her. 

Let's pretend I'm offering special, front row seats to a fabulous event . . . when in reality we'd chat but it'd be lots of "Do you wanna buckle that kid into the stroller or hold this one up to see the rhino?" Hmm, why don't I have more friends?

Anyway, I needed to be on my A game- my time stamped entry was for 10:40 am. Running late is my special talent. I had to be there on time.

I was shooting for an earlier entry, but even when planning in advance -time slots were taken. I wanted to be back for naps. I have a NO SLEEPING IN MY VAN rule that is fairly hard to enforce from my perch in the front seat. (sleeping in the car can give a toddler a dreaded 2nd wind). Nothing like steering with my toes as I stretch into the back seat to tickle/gently slap/lick kids in the face to keep them awake as I grumble about Delilah's absence under my breath. Kidding. 

Driving with knees is safer than toes, and I'd never grumble about Delilah's real life responsibilities. Oh, and I don't lick the babies . . . duh, covid.

I may've focused more on my rearview mirror than the road driving home as I called to the guys, begging them to stay with me as if they were about to lose consciousness after losing a lot of blood. 

The night before the zoo, I was drafting yesterday's post. I was dissatisfied with it, thus grouchy. It was a hodge podge of stuff I'd written a while ago and never posted. (I am seeing those of you who didn't read it making a mental note not to bother, it's not THAT bad). My hands were tied though. Tank needed me to proof some of his scholarship essays that are due soon. Ed needed me to do something for him via email too. 

So, now that I have a few minutes I'm redeeming myself with my zoo adventure. 

The morning went off without a hitch. I didn't initially plan to attend Mini's college planning zoom at 8:15 am unshowered and sweaty. I rolled with it though, as a tradeoff for squeezing in a workout. Then I fed/bottled a tot and a baby. Hopped up and down off the couch next to Mini as needed to deal with littles, dirty diapers, and listen/give my two cents to her counselor. I put the baby down for a nap, and went out to the garage to load carseats in the Great White. I could write a whole post on these new fangled carseats but I won't - just know that my kids are lucky they didn't later find me tangled up in straps in the very back of my van unable to free myself. 

That's it. It's official. I've turned into my mother incorporating 'new fangled' into my vocab.  

I showered, packed food, diapers, cups, jackets, zoo pass, and started loading tots 15 minutes before go-time. That is my new secret:  load 'em early. 

We arrived at exactly 10:40. I knew they'd have a grace period, but still. Who's proud of me? I unloaded my quadruple beast of a stroller, got three tots and one baby buckled, clipped lunch sacks to the handle, stuffed a bag of diapers in the weak excuse for storage. Tucked extra coats into the huge visor thing. I heard upper 60s but it's hard to convince oneself that it's going to actually BE that warm. 

What I'm saying is, I haven't lost my 'get out and do things' touch.

A woman stopped me before the beast's momentum reached the no-turning back point.

Parking lot lady:  Are you doing this on your own? Wow, you're amazing. 

Me:  (Looking over my shoulder, who me?) Oh, um. Thanks. We won't stay long. (famous last words). The big stroller helps. It's an adventure.

We chatted. She lives near me. Her husband used to teach at my kids' high school. Her house backs up to the golf course where my kids caddy. She wished me luck and started to walk away. Then she came back.

Parking lot lady:  Do you mind if I take your picture? I'd like to put it on my little Facebook group - just my neighborhood friends. I think it's the month of the woman. I want to share you as a strong woman.

Me:  Well, in that case I guess I should flex.

She snapped a photo of me flexing next to my monster stroller and my four littles. Poor Delilah missed a chance to be famous on someone else's FB page. I pointed out to her that the word across my sweatshirt (synonymous with fierce) happens to be my last name. She enjoyed that nugget of info.   

The day continued to be wonderful. A couple asked me if the 3 boys were my triplets. Translation:  they thought I was young enough to have given birth two years ago. Day made. The animals seemed to know we'd arrived, showing us all their special moves. Like the rhino who stood near the edge of his enclosure (such a close view) and chewed on a stick.
This was so cool. Look how close?

I pulled my usual . . . stayed longer than intended because we were having a great time. Pushed the envelope. The dolphins were the last stop and strollers weren't allowed in. I released my guys and held the baby. We waited in line to get in. To innocent bystanders I was a completely sane person who enjoys herding cats. Only we know the truth. 
All my dolphin footage is videos not photos, but you get the idea.

I count having just one guy fall asleep in the car a success. He still napped at home . . . and I laid in the sun for a bit on my deck in shorts and a tank top during nap time.  

What's your recent life-is-good day? Or who's wrestled with a carseat lately? Has anyone randomly asked to post your photo to their FB page? How much better is this post than yesterday's?  


Anonymous said...

I had a life-is-good sit down visit with a young friend just this week. It was my first in-person visit since December 26th. (I looked it up.) Said young friend had stopped by the day before on his way to work and dropped off eggs - both chicken and duck eggs. So I baked muffins for his family and he stopped by the next morning on his way home to pick them up. He's a firefighter/EMT, thus the 24 hour shift.
4 littles and the zoo? That probably wouldn't qualify as a good day for me. You are indeed a wonder! And fierce! And probably only a little jealous of my over abundance of alone time. Have another life-is-good day! KS G'ma

Kari said...

Man, you are not making me miss having little kids or car seats or the zoo. Kidding. ;)

The weather has been amazing. Ellie and I have been going on walks at the forest preserves daily. Two miles each day and when we pass the same people over and over, I keep saying to her, "umm, that means they are doing 4 miles! WHO DOES FOUR MILE WALKS?" Don't judge me. I am out of shape.

But you are fierce for taking those kids out. That is HARD work. And I know your last name. :)

Kara said...

I have not had the joy of wrestling with car seats since 2010. Sure, there were booster seats after that, but those are a lot more user friendly.

I haven't been to our Zoo in years. We used to have a membership, because it was easy to throw the kids in the car and make a day of it. Even if we never got beyond the petting zoo, who cared? It was on the membership. There are two loops at the Zoo, and we rarely ever made it to the side that had the big cats and the rhino. One time we did get over there, the male tiger was feeling quite frisky, I guess? But long story short, we got peed on by the tiger. It stank.

Ally Bean said...

You're not officially your mother until you add *thingamajig* behind the words 'new fangled' so you're good there. As for anyone asking to post my pic on FB, that has never happened so you're in a whole different world there. As for the photo of the little guys staring at the rhino, it's priceless.

Pat Birnie said...

This is amazing! I am truly impressed that you take those littles on outings. Their families are so lucky to have you. My daughter babysits several two year old and last week she sent me a video of them playing in some sort of homemade slime mixture - cornstarch & water in a basin on the kitchen floor. I raised 4 kids but don't have the same patience with other people's kiddos. As for the carseat, when I take the grandkids the parents are required to strap in the car seat. Laughed at you tickling, singing etc to keep them awake - I've done it many times!! Nothing sadder than a wasted nap in the car.

Note on yesterday's post - I can also identify; I'd come home from a Sunday morning long run & get the kids out of bed to clean the house with me. I'm not going to shower before I clean! I heard "Mom you stink - go shower please!!" many many times.

Charlie said...

Gosh Ernie, how do you do it! Even taking 2 toddlers out for the day (when they aren’t yours) is stressful enough, but 4 kids??? I am very impressed that someone asked if they were yours though! I have 2 step-grandchildren (18m and 4yrs) and no one has ever asked me if they’re mine :)

Ernie said...

KS G'ma - So glad you got a visitor and some eggs. Bonus. I've never had a visitor show up bearing eggs. The muffins sound delish. Back in normal times when the weather was nice, I was out and about quite a bit. We did story time at the library or parks or the zoo or a forest preserve with a great nature center. I used to coordinate my outings with my friend who also babysits. It was a win/win - the kids had a blast and she and I got to catch up. Hoping those good times start up again. I wouldn't mind some alone time now and then. ;)

Ernie said...

Kari - I've always enjoyed the zoo. It was one of my first dates with Coach. I have pictures. I was wearing navy and white wide-striped shorts/overalls by esprit. Guess what makes a tall person look taller?

I took that big butt stroller on a 2.25 mile walk just before lunch today with the baby twins and two tot boys. We had to do hoods up because it was a bit windy, but it was beautiful to be outside. Nothing like fresh air to knock these kids out. Anyone notice a theme here? We also saw my parents. How exciting that spring is on the way!

The kids were well behaved at the zoo and no one lived up to my real last name. wink, wink.

Ernie said...

Kara - Love when a kid graduates to a booster seat. These updated carseats seem so easy because they clip onto tether brackets in the car. I could not figure out how to lengthen some of the tether straps and almost lost my mind and every one of my finger nails.

When the kids were younger, most hot summer days were spent at the local pool. The non pool days were zoo days. Yes - that membership is perfect. We brought friends, etc. Always fun. We were never peed on by a tiger. Did they charge extra for that amazing 'experience'. So gross. In the children's zoo, they asked for volunteers. We learned that they wouldn't take kids in sandals. My kids started wearing serious sneakers and they were often picked to help groom the horse, etc. So fun. My albums are full of zoo pictures.

Ernie said...

Ally - If I want to turn into the elderly version of my mother, I will start avoiding driving on roads that MIGHT have traffic. My mom turns 78 on Saturday. She is very spry and 'with-it' but the lengths she goes to to avoid possible traffic on local roads is unreal. :)

My google photos is overflowing with pictures of the kids I've sat for over the past 6 years. I can't bring myself to delete - even though they aren't my kids. My kids do enjoy looking back at the little guys and remembering who was a stinker or who had a crazy mama, etc. I post pictures on a FB group for the parents I sit for. I hate for them to miss out on all of our fun. They seem to really appreciate it . . . although that day they may've been eye-rolling a bit because I posted like 22 pics, but most of the posts were videos.

Ernie said...

Pat - I wondered if I was wasting my money when I bought this big monster stroller, but it makes the outings possible. It was a risk though because one year I might have a ton of little guys who can't walk and the next year the crowd might be thinner. Not gonna lie, I'm hoping to retire in another 4 years (give or take). That will make a total of 10 and I might be tired by then. (OK, more tired). The group of parents I have right now are full of gratitude and very easy going. That makes things so much less stressful. I do find that I am more patient with the kids whose parents are easy going and grateful and on the same page. Maybe I shouldn't admit that, but when they treat me well and appreciate what I do - it matters.

Nothing worse than a wasted nap - so true. My older guys used to be strategically placed in the car to keep the younger ones awake. Hey, after a day at the zoo I gotta get home and get something done.

So agree - the best time to do bathrooms is after a workout. Knock it all out of the way and then enjoy a shower in a clean bathroom.

Ernie said...

Charlie - This sort of makes up for the time when someone at library story time asked me if the kids I had with me were my grandchildren. And that was 2 years ago. AND - it was a woman that I worked out with at the health club. I wanted to say 'you've seen me workout - you think a grandma could pull that off?' I was stunned. The parking lot lady was surprised when I said my oldest is 22, when I explained that I was sitting. I must've been having a youthful looking day. Not always the case.

Suz said...

Car seats were always a challenge! I miss the days when I was a kid, just freeballing it all over the car. HA. That's how I broke my nose the first time. :)
YOU are my shero. So amazing that you take such good care of these kiddos AND give them a nice treat like the zoo. I would've stopped to take your pic too, you beast you. Delilah missed ALL the fun.

I think I share 'my life is good' stories all the time, so there.

I liked the last post. Whats the issue?

Ernie said...

Suz - Frequently when I drove my kids around in the Great White when they were younger and more gymnastically prone, I'd look in the mirror and see feet as kids flopped over seats to goof around or decide to switch seats. It was a free for all and I was constantly hollering to get buckled. Outnumbered, I was.

I do look forward to being able to get out and do more things and go more places with the little people. It's always fun. I feel bad for kids who are just stuck in a place all day while the folks are at work. There's a forest preserve not far from my house that has an awesome nature center. Think smaller scale zoo - as in woodsy animals that are stuffed and some turtles and snakes that aren't. It's a great quick alternative to the zoo because it's easier/smaller, etc. and it's free. I can't wait for it to open back up.

You do share life is good stories and your funny orthodontically challenged dog photos which makes everyone smile. Curly was just telling me that her BFF's dog only has 3 teeth left and now his tongue hangs out to one side and he always looks silly. I thought of Lillie's teeth - in a good way.

Ah, the last post . . . I suppose it was fine and all - I just wanted to have the time to write something else and I didn't get to, so it felt bogged down in old news and mismatched stuff. Apparently if you mention lice though, comments come rolling in. Take note, my friend. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ernie! This post is so good! I felt like I was right there with you even though there’s no freakin way I could wrastle that many tiny tots, stroller, etc. And when the nice lady came back to take your photo as Proof for Fierceness... I cheered. You are so fierce!

Also how lucky are the parents of your tots? The zoo day trips? Omg! The last time I went to the zoo, it was a surprise trip from my now husband. We’d just started dating and for some reason the zoo was absolutely perfect. Maybe bc it was mostly us walking from one huge natural habitat area to the next. Beautiful day. Pretty walk. Quiet conversation. Happy animals. Thx for sparking that wonderful memory for me.


Ernie said...

Maddie - I think anyone can take a bunch of tots to the zoo. It's not as hard as it sounds. I did let the boys walk for a stretch which was easier than getting them in and out of the stroller. I found if I held one guy's hand while I pushed the stroller with the forearm of the other hand, we could make slow progress. The guy that had to hold hands is the youngest of the 3 boys and was willing to follow any family which just wasn't exactly working with my plan.

Nothing like a day at the zoo.

Beth Cotell said...

I am impressed with your kid rangling skills. Plus you got a workout in prior to that, a zoom call and still had time to lay in the sun!

Ernie said...

Beth - Yes, I did do all of that in one day . . . but you must know that my house looks like a disaster and we were probably eating leftovers for dinner.