Well Played, Gelato.

I tell ya. As soon as you say anything about your kids, they do the exact opposite and prove you a liar.

Gelato found his feet today. AND he can scoot/squirm about 2 feet forward in order to get a toy. AND he was pushing up on his arms fully straightened. AND he was sitting straight up (against me). So yesterday, when I posted about how Hula Girl could do all those things at his age and he can’t? Yeah. Me=Liar. Well played, Son.

Also, can I just recap today so y’all can feel jealous of my life? For realz, I am having such a great day.

5:45 Gelato wakes and Jonathan goes to hold him until it’s time for him to nurse

6:00 Gelato is talking all cute and happy so I decide to go nurse him early so we don’t have a weird beginning of the day

6:15 Gelato falls asleep nursing; I decide to hold him until it’s time to wake him for the day to officially begin- it has been a LONG time since I held him while he slept

6:55 I wake him, finish his nursing session, and take him to see Hula Girl and Jonathan

7:10-7:45 Gelato, Hula Girl, and I hang out in the living room reading books and playing with toys together

7:45 Hula Girl starts eating her breakfast while I put Gelato down for his nap

8:00 Hula Girl and I eat more breakfast together

8:30 Hula Girl and I go outside to play in the snow (we threw snowballs, made a snowman, and ingested a TON of filthy snow- meh)

9:30 Hula Girl and I come inside and I put her in roomtime

9:45 I nurse Gelato then put him in independent playtime while I switch the laundry

10:00-10:40 Hula Girl, Gelato, and I play and read in Hula Girl’s room together

10:45 I put Gelato down for his nap while Hula Girl works on cleaning up her toys

11:00-11:30 Hula Girl and I talk and she goes BERSERK while I clean the kitchen, do the dishes, and make lunch (another post on this!)

11:30-12:20 Hula Girl and I enjoy a long lunch while we play and laugh and sing and talk

12:30 Hula Girl goes down for her nap

12:45-1:55 I nurse Gelato and play with him and discover that I am a liar (see above)

See? What a fun day. Now I have to go chop veggies and bake cornbread for tonight’s dinner (turkey and black bean chili). Mmmhmm, I’m loving life right now.

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Hula Girl- 2.5 Years Old

Where to begin? My girl is great. She is absolutely delightful, yet her behavior can be absolutely and jaw-droppingly frustrating at times! What can she do? She’s 2.5! Every moment is full of excitement, drama, and emotion! Every new discovery is the coolest thing ever! Every disappointment is utterly heartbreaking! Every scrape, bump, bruise, or fall, real or imagined, induces the worst pain she’s ever known! And, oh! When Mommy says no… 

Since we only do yearly visits for well-checks now, we’ve only got rough estimates on her growth. She weighs 32.5ish pounds and she’s 36ish inches tall. That puts her between the 75th and 90th percentiles for weight and at the 50th percentile for height. I have all her monthly heights marked on the inside of a closet door, and she shot up between 27 and 28 months, but since then she’s only grown a quarter of an inch.

Here’s the typical rundown:

Current Schedule (you’ll notice this is pretty much the same as it has been; we adjusted 30 minutes earlier for DST):

7:00 out of crib, milk, get dressed (maybe)

7:15 go downstairs, play while breakfast is prepared

7:45ish breakfast

8:15ish play indoors (project, reading, toys, whatevs)

9:30ish roomtime

10:30ish play outside

11:15ish play while lunch is prepared (she usually runs around singing and being silly)

11:45/12ish eat lunch

12:30ish nap

3:00ish snack and roomtime

3:45ish sibling playtime (closely attended by Mommy)

4:30ish help with dinner and free play

5:15ish dinner

6:ooish family time

6:30ish bedtime routine

7:00 in bed

Eating

Hula Girl has stopped eating. Today, for example, she ate one piece of French toast, a 1-inch chunk of cheese, 1/4 cup of corn, 10 or so Cheddar Bunnies, 4 bites of macaroni and cheese, and 10 bites of mushrooms. That’s it. All day long. I’m not sure what’s up with her, but she’s been low in the appetite department for about a week now. She won’t even eat her all-time favorites, like clementines and Bunny Grahams. Weeeeeeird.

Sleeping

Naps are getting better again! And so are nights! So, she’s actually falling asleep within 15-30 minutes of bedtime and waking around 6:30. So, about 11 hours of nighttime sleep. Then she is actually taking her full 2.5-hour nap (and sometimes even extending that nap a bit!), so we’re back up to the 13.5 hours of sleep each day! Yahoo! She has a much better attitude when she’s well-rested. And she rarely gets sick. Booyah. As a side note, she has 3 out of 4 of her 2-year molars in. I think this is greatly contributing to her improved sleep.

Behavior

Can we say “testing”??? I’m going to leave it at that.

Attitude

Hula Girl’s overall attitude is happy-go-lucky, chipper, gleeful, and fun. However, we are starting to see her protesting (with a very annoying WHINY voice) several times each day. We’ve handled it by telling her that we can’t hear her when she whines. Then I will  tell her she can try again when I count to ___. So I count to that number, veeeeeeerrryy sloooooooooowwwwllllyy, and then tell her it’s okay to ask again with a “big girl voice”. That does the trick. After reviewing several of my posts on her monthly development, I have come to realize that even though these little annoyances seem like they last forever, they’re really over within a month or two, so I have no reason to be concerned. Just consistent! 🙂 I have a feeling Hula Girl is going to be even better at counting by the end of December!

Language

Kid can talk. And talk. And talk. And sing. And talk. And tell a story. And talk. And tell me every single little thing she’s doing and thinking and saying and singing and worrying about and wondering about and wanting and deciding all day long. Oh, and she talks a lot, too.

Her enunciation is getting very good. She still says /y/ for /r/ /s/ and /l/. She still says /t/ for /k/. Therefore, she “YOVES TUPTATES!” As evidenced by her mini Christmas tree, which is covered in pink, purple, and silver glittery balls and-yes-cupcakes. I can’t believe they even make these ridiculous ornaments. But when I saw them, I knew they had to belong to Hula Girl. They scream Hula Girl, in fact. I digress.

Interests

Hula Girl’s interests are diverse. Her very favorite thing to do, still, is to read. As soon as she gets downstairs in the morning, she crows, “Yet’s Yead a Booot!” As soon as that one’s done, “Anunna Booooot!”

She loves talking about her family. She will ask me where Grammy, Grampy, Great-Grandma, Ama, Papa, Nay-Nay, and Daddy are all day long. In fact, I have answered that question so many times that now I ask her where she thinks they are. And guess what!? They’re all on the moon right now. And the moon is white because it’s covered in snow. So there ya go.

Marriage has been a topic of interest lately. As previously mentioned, Hula Girl has a special ornament that she has declared the ornament from her wedding day. She has also decided that when they get old enough, she will be marrying Gelato. I’m thinking it’s because he’s the only boy she knows who’s not taken. 🙂

She is still very eager to help her little “Bo” (bro). She is very compassionate and always wants him to be happy. He is. She makes sure he has toys and that I change his diaper frequently.

Hula Girl received a keyboard from our landlord for Christmas last year. (I just realized it’s been a year since we got that thing; those batteries sure last long!) She loooooves to play music on that insipid, obnoxious, LOUD toy! It will play a number of familiar tunes, like “She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” and “Polly-Wolly-Doodle”. Of course, Hula Girl thinks it’s utterly important for me to know exactly which song is playing at all times, so as soon as any new song starts, she runs to wherever I am to inform me of the title of the song. As if I’m not the one who taught her.

Christmas. What kid isn’t obsessed with Christmas from Thanksgiving on? Fortunately, she’s just excited to have Santa wake her up in the middle of the night so she can pet the reindeer. Yup. Who needs presents? How disappointing it will be when she realizes that Santa likes to operate in stealth mode.

Quirks

Still loves those fuzzies… though not as much as she did before the caterpillar incident of 2012.

Has taken to biting her fingernails (and her toenails). Any ideas on breaking this habit? It’s horrible- she will bite until she bleeds.

Related to the above, she no longer likes to wear socks. This is truly weird for her.

Whenever she’s trying to get her way, she will tell me something like, “I’m going to go get a book so we can read, okay?” All the while she will cock her head to the left and nod it quickly and keep her eyes wide open. It’s very comical. I must nod my head a lot to try to get her excited about things. I will say this: I don’t add “okay?” to the end of my statements. She does that on her own. 🙂

Gelato-4 Month Update

Yep, they all said it would happen. The second child syndrome- Mom wasted all her energy on documenting and fawning over the first child’s “firsts” so the second child has no pictures, no dates, and no mementoes to prove he even existed apart from big sib. Well, Gelato, you are not the exception to the rule. Sure, I have some great shots of you throughout your life. But they’re basically all of you doing the exact same thing- lying on your back and looking up. You just do it so cute!

Plus, you haven’t really done much else yet. I am not going to make this a compare-you-to-your-sister post, but let me just remind the readers: by 4 months of age, Hula Girl was proficient at rolling both ways, grabbing on to toys, playing with her feet, and was well on her way to crawling and sitting up. Little Man, on the other hand, has rolled a grand total of maybe 10 times in his life (always front to back), can hold toys that are handed to him (actually, he did work for and grab onto a toy today during tummy time), doesn’t know his body exists beyond his hands and ears, and slumps over like a little ol’ grandpa any time we try to sit him vertical. 🙂

That’s not to say he’s not reaching age-appropriate milestones. We had his 4-month checkup yesterday and he actually tested at 5 months 3 weeks according to the pediatrician’s development “test”. I circled yes for everything up until “pushes body up with arms fully extended” and “swallows purees off a spoon”. Poor little guy. He hasn’t even had a chance to try purees- he never will! We’ll always have to circle no on that one! (We will be using Baby-Led Weaning again with him.)

Gelato is 16 pounds 4 ounces, up 4 ounces since I took him about a week ago. That means he’s actually on trajectory to double his birth weight by 6 months. Wowza. He’s in the 75th percentile for weight. He’s 25 inches long, in the 50th percentile, and his head is back up into the 50th percentile as well. Basically, he’s growing along his growth curves nicely.

He is healthy in every way. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, chest, hips, skin. Check, check, check, check, check, check, check. The doctor noted that his top two teeth are definitely moving down through the gum; it’s only a matter of time until we see those little pearly whites. I will be sad, again, to see my baby get his first teeth. I just adore those gummy baby smiles so very much, and once they get teeth, it’s like they grow up SO much SO fast and the sweet infant days are gone forever. I think my heart just shed a tear in preparation for Gelato’s first tooth breaking through.

I really am hating having him grow up. It is flying by so fast, too fast. I remember just being so darn bored with Hula Girl because she couldn’t DO anything at this stage. But now that I have a toddler who does it all, I am rather enjoying the do-nothingness that comes with the infant stage. I am SO glad this boy isn’t light years ahead of his peers. Who needs to roll when Big Sister just fetches toys for you? Stay still, Little Man, there’s no rush.

I will, however, be glad to have a 12-hour sleeper sometime. I definitely took that for granted when Hula Girl was the only little munchkin boppin’ around the house. 12 whole hours to rest, relax, enjoy my husband, pig out on popcorn and ice cream (without having to share it or do “duck-under-the-kitchen-counter-while-she-sits-at-the-table-so-she-can’t-see-you-take-a-bite-of-that-cookie” maneuvers), and sleep.

This boy’s sleep is taking a LOOOOOONG time to iron itself out. But we’re getting there. Right now, we’re basically doing this schedule (within 30 minutes)

  • 6:30 wake, nurse, lay in Mommy and Daddy’s bed laughing and squealing and talking
  • 7:30 nap
  • 9:30 wake, nurse, independent playtime, possible sibling time, read books, some tummy time
  • 10:35 nap
  • 12:30 wake, nurse, tummy time, outside time (unless it’s FREEZING), lots of physical activities
  • 1:40 nap
  • 3:30 wake, nurse, sibling time, read books, hang out
  • 4:40 catnap
  • 5:20 wake, family time
  • 6:00 bath, lotion, jammies (all with Daddy)
  • 6:30 nurse
  • 6:45 bed
  • 10:00 dreamfeed (I take him out of his crib and nurse him without waking him)

SOMETIMES he has a middle-of-the-night feeding… other times he sleeps until our waketime in the morning. I can’t WAIT for this to get consistent.

He is in the middle of a wonder week. I have definitely noticed it for the past week or so. He has been waking 45 minutes into his naps and has not fallen back asleep easily. This is common during this stage, but it’s hard on me when I am trying to keep things normal for Hula Girl while balancing his needs as well. It’s extra hard because Gelato will not fall back asleep with ANY kind of help- he will not be rocked to sleep, he will not sleep in his swing, he will not take a pacifier. So it’s either let him talk/play/cry in his crib until the next feeding time or get him up early and hope we can adjust somehow. We usually opt for the second choice  because I can’t emotionally hack it when I have to listen to him crying and Hula Girl whining (another post, coming later tonight).

Nursing is going well regardless of his crazy sleeping habits. If I am not sure he’ll be  hungry enough to eat in the morning (due to eating in the early hours, close to our waketime), I just have to get him as soon as he stirs and nurse him while he’s drowsy. Then he’ll eat.

Also, I am still doing a partial elimination diet. I tried introducing wheat and soy a couple months ago- that didn’t go too well. His arms and legs got some eczema. However, I’m not sure if it was diet related or if it was because we had just switched his soap and lotion (we switched back). Anyway, his skin is all cleared up again (has been for a month) and so I decided to try introducing something else. This time I tried dairy. I had lasagna (with rice noodles) on Sunday night, and so far things seem to be going fine! I’m going to eat some cheese again tonight and if he’s still doing okay by the end of the week, I’m going to get myself some yogurt this weekend so I can munch on that next week. If dairy goes smoothly, I will try the soy again. I will keep wheat for last. I am very excited to eat something terribly delicious again soon, though. Like cheesecake. Mmmmm.

Anyway, let me share something else with you. I may have written it somewhere in a previous post, but even if I have, it’s worth restating. My friend Jennie once posted on her blog something that her mom said. It was something like, “As a mom, you will love your daughter so deeply it will hurt and then some. But you will have a crush on your son.”

OH.MY.GOODNESS. It is so true. I have the biggest crush on this little guy. Perhaps it’s because he looks so much like his Daddy? Maybe it’s because he has the qualities I have always admired so much in others (mild-tempered, easygoing)? Maybe it’s because he’s just so darn sweet? I don’t know what it is. But I cannot tell you just how much happiness is squeezed into my heart whenever I’m with that baby boy. It doesn’t hurt- it just makes my heart feel glad. I am so thankful that God allowed me to feel that way about this child- what a blessing to rejoice SO MUCH in someone five or six times daily!

He really rounds out our family, and I think all of us have little crushes on him, even Hula Girl. Several times a day, I hear her saying, “I just YOVE [Gelato]!” Melt.

Huzzah for the State!

Once upon a time, there was a handsome young lad named Jonathan. He dreamed of becoming a therapist so he could make a small difference in this hurting world. Young Jonathan had a little wifey, who worked hard as a teacher. Neither Jonathan nor his wife had a lot of money; they lived a very small life so they could stay out of debt as much as possible. In fact, due to all their scrimping and careful planning, they were able to pay off his wife’s student loans during their first two years of marriage, on a teacher’s salary and Starbucks hourly wages.

Jonathan decided to pursue his dream by attending Denver Seminary and earning his master’s degree. In order to do so, he set out to borrow quite a bit more money. Two years later, he graduated. It was just after the birth of their baby girl, so Jonathan quickly found a job where he could use his degree and support his family on just one salary. His wife’s dream of being a stay-at-home-mom came true.

However, due to his relatively small salary and their relatively large student loans, Jonathan and his little family continued to live small. They drove old cars, they didn’t buy new clothes, they never splurged on anything. Jonathan and his wife cut their own hair and learned to live on $80 per week for groceries. Mind you, they did not really mind this lifestyle- simplicity suited them. How much more enjoyable their lives had become because they were able to focus on the things they truly loved- reading, spending time together, gardening, and so forth. Every little “extra” seemed like a big deal to them and they were able to enjoy small gifts that much more. They were not in want.

Then one day Jonathan learned about a special program run through the government of his state. He learned that he worked in an under-served area, and that he was eligible to apply for a student loan repayment program which would possibly pay off all his student loans given he agreed to work in an under-served area for three years. He applied and he and his wife waited and prayed and asked their family and friends for prayers as well.

And then on December 7, 2012, the 4-month mark in their son’s little life, they learned that Jonathan’s student loans will be paid in their entirety by the state government program. Jonathan and his wife have that entire chunk of change that they have been putting into loan repayment every month to spend elsewhere. Effective immediately. And all the people in the household rejoiced, singing, “Huzzah! Huzzah for the State!”

We’re gonna start looking for a new car this weekend.

Don’t worry, we’re not rushing into things with the car. We’re not absolutely desperate, but if you looked at the cars we do own, you might think we kind of are. But we know what we’re looking for, and a ballpark figure of what we want to spend. We’ve been planning since, oh, June or so, so we’ve done a little bit of research. Now the fun begins!

If you know of anyone looking to get rid of a 2011 or newer Toyota Highlander, or you know where to get a good deal on one, please let me know. 🙂

She’s a Girly Girl and this Proves It!

So, you all know that Hula Girl is a girl with an obsession for fuzz. Yes, she still collects fuzz and balls it up and rolls it around on her top lip. She still puts it on the table while she eats. She still sets it on the side of the tub while she takes her bath. Haha!

Anyway. We had a pretty funny experience yesterday that just proves that my fuzz-loving little girl is truly a girly girl.

She and I were in the living room cleaning up all her books. Mind you, we never really have to clean up toys- she only ever wants to read books. When given the opportunity to choose her activity, it’s always books. Books, books, books. (And she rubs her fuzz on her lip while we read.) I asked her to go over toward the Christmas tree and pick up a book over there. She was in a mood and started to tell me no. I told her it’s not appropriate for her to tell me no. She said, “Yes, Mommy.”

The next thing I knew, she was wailing. I thought perhaps she was starting a tantrum about the books even though she had just changed her attitude. Then she came scuttling across the floor toward me with an absolutely terrified look on her face. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “The fuzz moved!” I was like what?!

She took a few deep breaths to calm down, sniffled a big sniffle, then, with giant tears rollling down her cheek, she said, “I touched a bug.”

Now THAT is a fuzz.

Now THAT is a fuzz.

Boom.

She sure did. This lil’ guy was crawling away from our Christmas tree. As soon as we touched him, he curled into a ball. How freaky would that experience be for Hula Girl? Think about it from her perspective: she sees a giant prize fuzz on the floor and goes to scoop it up to rub it on her lip. Then it moves in her fingers! No wonder she was terrified! Bless her poor little fuzz-loving heart.

I saved the little guy by tossing him outside in the bushes. It’s not too very cold here yet. But I doubt he’ll make it to butterfly-hood.

UPDATE: I am preeeeety sure this dude is gonna die. He’s a “banded woolly bear” and is generally frozen solid all winter long. Poor little thing defrosted in my living room. Kind of gross.  

Hospitality Update

So remember this post, where I talked about Jonathan’s and my excitement about hospitality and church attendance and so forth? Well.

We went to church on Sunday. It wasn’t perfect.

Gelato actually napped around church pretty well. He woke early that morning so we were able to just go to the early service without disrupting his first nap. He missed his second nap but fell asleep in the car seat on the way home, and then when he woke from that short nap I moved him to his crib and he fell asleep for another 45 minutes, which put us at the proper time for his next feeding.

Hula Girl stayed in the nursery with very few problems. They didn’t have to page us out of the service, but when we arrived to pick her up, she was crying. They told us that she had just had a truck taken away from her by a little boy. On the way home, she told us that a boy had kicked her. Maybe he didn’t just take the truck? I can’t imagine that she’d be making that up- I don’t think she’s ever seen anyone kick another person (not in books, and definitely not on TV or videos- you know that’s not the way we roll). So I’m not sure about that one.

The service itself was fine. Except. Um. They didn’t do Advent. ?!?!?!?!?!?!

I emailed the pastor last night in order to find out why. I haven’t heard back. I know it’s not a denominational thing- I made sure to look it up and found lots of other churches in the same denomination that were doing special advent things- wreath lightings and so forth. Maybe it was an oversight? 

But it really bothered me. The first Sunday of Advent focuses on Hope. We have such great hope of salvation through the coming King! We ought to be reminded of that hope because, really, it’s what brings the joy to our hearts! Why celebrate Christmas if we have no hope? All I wanted to do was to have a little hope. 

Anyway. I will let you know what the pastor says in response to my email. 

On to the other topic of that particular post. The Toddler Christmas Extravaganza.

Yeah. I handed out invitations and made a few phone calls, expecting about half of the people to decline. Well… they all accepted. My count right now includes 4 infants, 11 toddlers, 2 preschoolers, and 15 adults. Whoa. Can I just take a moment to congratulate myself on my foresight? I scheduled this thing to last for an hour. I figured that’d be all Hula Girl could handle. Turns out it’ll probably be all I can handle!

Heeeere are my plans!

Refreshments:

  • Christmas Tree Fruit Plate OR Red and Green Fruit Skewers
  • Gingerbread-Man-Shaped PB&J and Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches
  • Coffee
  • Spiced Cider
  • Eggnog (for the coffee or by itself-gag!)
  • Milk
  • Water

Activities: 

  • Decorate Cookies (the Main Event!)
  • Christmas Sensory Table
  • Ice Fishing
  • Christmas Matching/Memory 
  • Felt Board Snowman 

 Favors (Treat bags stuffed with):

  • Jingle Bell Necklaces
  • Christmas Matching/Memory Cards
  • Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods
  • Clementine
  • Christmas Stickers

Okay, so I was just reading through that list of food and I stopped to laugh because I can picture Jonathan eating scraps of sandwiches for lunch and dinner that day. What else are we going to do with all the trimmings after we cut them with the cookie cutter? Haha! Poor guy. Never knew he’d have such lovely meals when he married me! Soggy sandwich trimmings-Dee-lightful! 

Anyway, we’re expecting mayhem. Our house is tiny, and it’s supposed to be quite cold, so there will be no escaping to the backyard. Thank goodness Gelato has white noise in his room and he can’t even hear the vacuum when it’s running. ‘Cuz I’m betting on at least two or three tantrums and at least a WHOLE LOTTA LAUGHTER! What fun we’ll have. 

And the moms? They’re STOKED. Five of them came up to me right as soon as I walked in to the library today. They were all saying, “Sorry we haven’t RSVP’d… but we’re definitely going to make it! We’re so excited!” Turns out, I’m not the only one who feels totally trapped at home sometimes!

And I’m insisting on name tags.

Hula Girl’s Special Or-mee-nents

Two funny little scenarios from our day, both involving Christmas tree ornaments:

1. Hula Girl walks up to me and shows me a random ornament from our tree. Jonathan and I have had this ornament since the first year we were married, but it came in a bulk pack of silver shatterproof ornaments (read:inexpensive and not-exactly-high-quality). She says, “This is a very special or-mee-nent to me.” I asked her why. “This is the or-mee-nent I got when I got married.” I asked her who she married. “This boy who was a baby but now he is old. And this is our very special or-mee-nent from our wedding day.”

2. Hula Girl decides she is done with dinner and wants to feed the rest of her food to her stuffed owl (borrowed from the library). I told her that owls don’t eat people food. She asked what they do eat. I told her they eat moths and mice. I took a huge risk in telling her they eat mice-she loves mice. So she gets down from her chair, walks over to the Christmas tree, and starts “feeding” the owl her special collectible ornaments- all of which have mice on them. So glad she thinks that highly of them.

Haul out the Holly

Yep, another song for ya. Lucille Ball style. ‘Cuz Christmas just isn’t Christmas without terrible singing, creepy Santa masks, and ornamented spectacles. I apologize for the WB petition at the beginning of the clip. I’d also like to draw your attention to the last few seconds of the video, where the poster claims the video wasn’t popular because it was released after people lost interest in musicals. Yeah, that’s why it wasn’t popular. 

Anyway, I have had this song running through my head for the past couple of days, and I’ve been thinking about a comment conversation between Kristy and me. She and I were talking about how this time of year is supposed to be filled with joy and yet it is just filled with people rushing around. Kristy even commented that people seem LESS joyful at this time of year than at any other time.

I had to laugh at myself the other day when Jonathan and I were working on some decorating around the house (because, NO, of course we’re not done! We’ll finish decorating on Christmas). I was getting all flustered and frustrated because he was taking a long time to accomplish some task and I just wanted to move on to something else and needed his help. I ended up saying, “Come on! I just want to celebrate CHRISTMAS!”

Yesterday I was at Walmart (oh, you KNOW I loved it). It was 2:40, and I was due home to feed Gelato by 3. He had woken up from his nap early, so Jonathan was carrying him around the house trying to keep him happy. I was pretty stoked to see a line that wasn’t five carts long (unusual sighting at a Walmart on a Sunday afternoon just before the Bronco game). I happily joined the line and then realized that the lady in front of me had her cart filled with a thousand Yoplait yogurt containers, 35 bags of Fritos, enough pork’n’beans to feed all the relatives in My Big Fat Greek Wedding until they paddle back to Greece in their inflatable canoes, and about a gazillion boxes of Hamburger Helper. You got it- Extreme Couponer Alert!

Since I try my hardest to be kind to all, and it frustrates me when people are rude to total strangers, I decided to stay in the line. I figured walking off in a huff, or even trying to surreptitiously check out the next-shortest line would make the clerk feel bad. It’s not HER fault that the Red Plum insert just came out. She was smiling an apologetic smile at me, and it would have been somewhat insensitive to just run away. So I smiled my “it’s-okay-because-I’m-patient” smile and pulled out my phone to check Facebook.

Then another lady, cart laden with party supplies, complete with piñata, pulled in behind me. She made some sort of comment about being in a hurry because she had to get home to set up before the guests arrived. You can probably see where this is headed.

Not only did Extreme Couponer watch the Sales Associate scan every single item (and check the price of each one while it was being scanned), but then she pulled out a prepaid debit card that had exactly $110 on it- she bought it last week, after all. Turns out the Sales Associate at the register is not actually supposed to be on a register after all. She’s a Floor person who got called to the front due to Excessive Couponers inundating the Regular Register Folk with heaping carts full of processed-flour-and-corn-syrup-laden-but-cheap!!! items. Anyway, the Sales Associate simply CANNOT figure out how to process the card. I mean, it says DEBIT right there on the front of the card, so the machine must be making a mistake when it tells the cashier to press the CREDIT button! She simply cannot press the CREDIT button- after all, the card says DEBIT. So it must be an error made by the Extreme Couponer on the customer side of the machine. She tells the Couponer to clear everything out and run it again, this time hitting DEBIT. Three times. Each time, the Couponer runs it through but the machine does not give her the option to hit DEBIT. It tells her to tell the cashier to press the CREDIT key. This is all too much for our Floor Sales Associate who has kindly but naively stepped up to the rigorous and taxing challenge known as “Customer Service”. So she calls in her Supervisor- a girl who is younger than me by about 8 years. Girl swipes the card, hits CREDIT, and moves on. “Oh, I just didn’t know I could do that! Thank you so much for helping me! I am so sorry that I didn’t realize that could be done! <slightly embarrassed laughter> I guess it’s just this old brain of mine! I keep telling my husband that things just aren’t working the way they used to!” and so on.

Now it might sound like I was annoyed. To be honest, I was. After all, I knew Jonathan was home with a fussy baby and Hula Girl’s nap end time looming. That’s enough to make any Mommy antsy. But I decided to keep on smiling that patient smile. After all, Floor Sales People can’t really be expected to know all the tips and tricks of the register. So I made polite conversation with her and found out that she was pretty flustered because the day had been crazy, what with the holidays and the Bronco game and all. She seemed to be somewhat timid and she kept getting distracted when the PSA Lady kept saying her name (PSA Lady was calling for someone else with the same name, but you all know what it feels like when someone calls your name, even if they’re not calling you). So, I gave her a little encouragement and wished her a Merry Christmas. She was going to need all the encouragement she could get, because Procrastinating Party Person behind me definitely needs a little Christmas.

Throughout the Couponing/DEBIT Debacle, as I was keenly interested in what was happening in front of me, I couldn’t help but overhear, “<mumble mumble shuffle shuffle beep beep> Hi. Yeah. Of course I am stuck in the long line. No I am not anywhere near leaving. Plus there’s someone else in front of me. No, the cashier’s soooooooo slow. I can’t believe she’s doing the register today. I mean, come on. Don’t they know that today is a busy day? Shouldn’t they put the fast people on the registers? Yeah and the lady is buying like all the yogurt in the store. I am serious.” Et cetera.

Luke 2:10-But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

Christmas sure isn’t about the decorations. It’s not about the wrapping. It’s not about the cider. It’s not about the holly. People need Christmas. Real Christmas. I hope Floor Sales Associate felt some Christmas from me. Isn’t it my job to bring Christmas to the world?

PS- Here’s a little shot of my peaceful Christmas with the family. Jonathan and I were snuggling with Hula Girl and we were reading Christmas stories together while sipping hot spiced cider.

Cider by the Tree

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