This "story" took place yesterday and it has taken me 24 hours to decide if I really wanted to put it in hard copy form...haha! I've come to find that life with one lil' tyke isn't so bad. Or maybe I've adapted or have come into the super powers of a mom of one. So I continue to take opportunities with my nieces to explore the super powers of a woman that goes out in public with multiple children. Yesterday we went to the mall. I had it all planned out...Auntie's are aloud to serve soft pretzels for lunch, so that would be first on the agenda and although our family isn't huge into Santa, a picture with him could prove to produce an epic heirloom. As we were driving there we chatted about how some kids don't get gifts for Christmas and I asked them if they would like to pick out a gift that we could donate to one of those kiddos...a good giving lesson to make up for the junk food lunch, right? Needless to say, we were one jolly bunch cruising down Rt. 30 in my sister-in-law's mini van jamming out to some Beiber Christmas tunes.
The real adventure started when we had to park 5 miles away because the mall was an absolute zoo and when I decided to make the unwise decision of bringing the "big girl" stroller for Haven. Why I didn't just stick with the handy, dandy key fit caddy in all its lightweight, easy to maneuver glory I'll never know. I suppose because Haven is 9 months old and I was feeling the need to let her "spread her wings" and sit in the upright position and absorb the over stimulating mall atmosphere. Now don't fear, I did know how to open the stroller, but the straps to hold her in...well that was another story. So in she went, unstrapped and covered with a blanket because I had forgotten to put her coat on when we left. Typically she stays in her carseat so she's an snug as a bug, but now in the advanced super stroller she was an exposed little bug in the open arctic breezes. Malia grabbed one side of the stroller and Noa grabbed the other. I felt like I was pulling a sled rather than pushing a stroller, but we made it inside. No random runners, frozen babies or forgotten items in the van.
This was a sure sign that we needed to move on, and needless to say Haven was still not strapped in. But we were off to Kohl's to pick out a toy...bellies full and ego's in check. As you can imagine we spent a great deal of time in the toy section...the girls scoping out every shelf and changing their minds each at least 5 times before making the difficult final decision. I had explained before we left that we weren't getting gifts for them because they would be getting lots of presents next week and although Noa grabbed and held tightly to the ugliest little stuffed turtle the entire time we wandered the store I had decided to stay strong. But as we turned the final corner of the toy section, Malia's entire world went into slow motion. She had laid her eyes on the Cinderella Wedding Carriage set. She first gasped, then ran, hair blowing behind her, slid onto the floor and with both hands clutched the box. Her big green eyes sparkling as she looked back at me and shouted, "I love this Auntie Carey". My mother's mind kicked in with explanations about how today we were shopping for other less fortunate children but before I knew it "Auntie mode" kicked into high gear and I was searching for a good excuse to buy it for her and make her entire day when all of a sudden I remembered I had never gotten her a birthday gift. I'm usually pretty good with that, but they had been away, I had been busy and just had never gotten anything for her and in that moment I knew why. She had found her perfect birthday gift from Auntie. She was practically in disbelief when I told her she could get it for her birthday and bless her heart she thought she was going to have to wait until next her next birthday,a special type of niece lay-away program I presume, so when I told her she could open it when we got home she practically fell to the ground. Noa lucked out and scored the bugged eyed turtle and Haven was just relieved that mama caught her as she was dangling out of the front of the stroller ( I knew those straps were a good idea) while waiting in the check out line.
Our last stop was to get a picture with Santa. Unfortunately, when we got to his Park City Residence he was on a Cinnabon break. Figured he needed to keep jolly. So we waited in line. Waiting in lines is not fun with a baby that needs a nap. Antsy is not even the right word, but it will have to do. She was antsy...still happy as Haven usually is, but antsy. We were not giving up. We had made it this far and she was wearing her overpriced reindeer shirt that I had found at a boutique in Washington, D.C. Mama was getting her picture. There were about 5 other kids ahead of us. You know the unhappy boy in his Christmas tie and patent leather shoes, the newborn that doesn't even fit into "real" clothes yet who was adorned with every ruffle, bow and sequin possible, and the teenagers that had skipped school that day and were getting a picture with Santa to post on FB. It was finally our turn and as I sat Haven on the big guy's lap I almost couldn't help but whisper..."You smell like beef and cheese. You don't smell like Santa". I think I had been mistaken. While on break I believe he was at the Thai BBQ joint rather than Cinnabon. Yuck. The girls were all in place and Haven couldn't do anything but stare at Santa. She didn't cry she just stared. The minimum wage "Santa's Helper" shook a few jingle bells but I knew that wasn't going to cut it...so since I had already made a fool of myself in the middle of Park City earlier, I decided to be pegged as a full on head case. I grabbed the puppet from Santa's other "helper" and started jumping up and down like a wild person. Haven would look at me but only for a second and do you think that photographer could hit the button when she looked? Nope. Only about 10 times did he hit the shutter about a second after I had her attention. I'm now sweating and close to asking Ryan the elf if I can take the picture. Oh but wait...now the flash isn't working and the elves can't figure out how to fix it...so Santa must get up and become the camera repair man while my gang is fading, including me. At that point I didn't really care if Haven was looking, if Noa pulled Santa's beard or if Malia decided to wander out of the picture...I just urged them to "snap". Of the 5 shots they took I found an acceptable one. Malia looked like such a big girl, Noa was making one of her classic crooked smiles (her black eye only added to the charm) and Haven well it wasn't her award winning photo moment...she was rocking her reindeer shirt and I knew there would plenty more holiday photos taking place in the next few days ;)
And that was my day...and if you could see me sitting here typing you would catch a huge smile on my face. And to keep in the tradition of Buddy the Elf, you might ask, "Why are you smiling like that?" and I would say, "Because smiling is my favorite." How true. If you never did anything you would never run the risk of being clumsy, embarrassing yourself or leaving with a lighter wallet...but when you get out there and take on the world you mound up memories, light up the eyes of little girls and learn to laugh at your self.