Tuesday, August 28, 2007

why i must work

After having not played tennis for almost a year, I bid Charlie farewell Sunday morning at 7 AM so that he could rejoin a group of neighborhood guys that get together and "hit" every weekend. He said he'd be gone a few hours, probably home in time for lunch.

Although I've taken care of all four children, by myself, for several hours on a few separate occasions, this was to be the first time that I would be taking care of all four children, by myself, from the break of dawn.

Considering the morning shift is the hardest time of the day, because everyone is waking up - breakfast needs to be prepared - all four children need to eat and get dressed - I need to eat and get dressed - and Henry usually nurses nonstop from 8 AM until 11 AM - it's not an easy job.

Especially since I don't drink coffee.

In return for this grand gesture of being a mother taking care of all four children, by myself ... Charlie promised that in return, I could go to the mall and complete shopping for the linens to the "big beds" that we are transitioning the triplets to, later this week.

Provided I don't come to my senses and instead install steel grates on the top of their cribs to keep everyone in for another three years.

It has been several months since I've done any kind of shopping and after sorting through the children's clothes last week, I was aghast at how lean their wardrobes had become. Although Elizabeth can still fit in a size 2T, Carolyn has hit a growth spurt and shot up 2-inches since May. She is now comfortably fitting in a size 4T, a whole size larger than her once was bigger brother.

The majority of clothes they've been wearing for the past few months are hand-me downs and as much as I appreciate saving a buck when I can ... I'm long over due for color coordinated clothing on my offspring. Besides, I've come to accept that there is something about Fall and the migration of kids back to school, that awakens the shopping giant within me.

The children were calling for me seconds after Charlie walked out the door. I quickly got dressed, throwing on the same pants I had on from Saturday and brushed my teeth. I then got the triplets up - changed their diapers - got them dressed, and started to make breakfast, all the while nursing a ravenous Henry.

While I was cooking oatmeal, I looked outside and watched the blue sky turn dark gray before it began spitting drops of rain. Moments later, it was pouring. It never rains in San Diego in August. At least I don't remember it ever raining in San Diego in August, and I've lived here for 13 years. So that must make me some kind of meteorological expert.

Another 20 minutes later and Charlie walked back in to the house dripping wet.

That concluded his Sunday outing.

Now, it was my turn.

Skipping my morning shower because I had no time to spare, I loaded up Henry and took off for the mall. By this time, the rain had stopped, the clouds had cleared, the sun was shining, the baby was sleeping, and I was leaving a house where three children were in the midst of huge temper tantrums and oatmeal was caking the walls and floor.

All was good in my world.

Except in my haste to leave before Charlie changed his mind, I forgot to put on deodorant. Or, brush my hair. Or change my pants that I had been wearing the day before and which were spattered with spit up. And something, unrecognizable, that the children had wiped on my leg.

I may not have looked that good, but I was feeling great.

Arriving at the mall, I made a quick detour in to The Children's Place. This wasn't a scheduled stop, but the sign out front advertised "SALE!" so I couldn't not look.

Nine pants, four skirts, twelve shirts, three belts, three sweaters, six pajamas and a Halloween costume later ... I left The Children's Place.

The good news - I saved 10% off my purchase because I opened a charge account.

The bad news - 10% didn't even cover the sales tax.

More bad news - my cell phone battery died, so I couldn't call Charlie and inform him of how adorable our children were going to look as we head in to the Spring of 2008 and how he might need to pick up a second job.

I skipped to the car, dropped off my goods, nursed Henry - changed a diaper - and skipped back in to the mall. Because I was planning to purchase bedding for the full bed we're converting one of the girl's cribs to later this week, and PBK was on the opposite side of the mall from where I had parked, I decided to bring our double BOB stroller that was in the car. Henry could catch a ride (outside of the Bjorn for once), and I would have cargo space to transport my purchases.

A few years ago, I never would have imagined that I would get so excited about purchasing something for someone other than me. But when I walked in to PBK with a $50.00 rewards check in hand, I felt like it was my birthday.

I absolutely adore that store. I adore it so much, I wonder if there isn't a 12-step program out there for people like me.

Walking in to the high quality children's furniture-linen-toy mecca of the world, I was stopped by a sales associate that commented on how tiny Henry looked in such a great big stroller. She laughed when I told her that my primary purpose for transporting him in the stroller was so I could have the space for toting merchandise.

Soon, she was showing me the wonderful Emma Dot Collection. The quilt, the matching shams, the throw pillows, the dust ruffle, the night light, the duvet covers ... and the assortment of sheets - solid hot pink, light pink gingham, light green gingham - that all went so well together.

So well that I couldn't make up my mind and ended up loading all three sheet sets on top of the BOB. Because what if I needed to change sheets in the middle of the night? Don't I need a back-up set of sheets??

Or two??

My sales associate, Grace, and I spent the better part of two hours together. We were looking at different combinations of fabric and furniture, and the next thing I know, we've wandered over to the clothing section.

Sensing that I needed some time to remember my credit limit browse, Grace made three separate trips to bring my linens (and every single accessory that matched the bedding) to the register. Meanwhile, I set about gleefully picking out coordinated outfits for our children.

As I was perusing, a well dressed woman approached me and cautiously asked if I was Jen. My first thought was that Charlie, who has a sixth sense about the financial damage I am capable of inflicting whenever I go shopping alone - particularly when I run out of the house wearing the clothes I wore the day before - had put out an APB once he couldn't reach me on my cell phone. In my mind, I was formulating a response for why it was critically important that our children wear beautifully coordinated outfits and sleep on the finest of linens.

In three separate colors.

With matching shams, throw pillows, dust ruffle and night light.

Instead, I met Christy - a woman who lives in San Diego and recognized me from my blog.

She recognized me.

Considering I've posted very few picture of myself and the last photo had the caption "Death Warmed Over" I think it is high time my sister-in-law Kathy, stop her idle threats of nominating me for "What Not To Wear" and call the producers, immediately.

If there is anyone who needs a fashion makeover - it's got to be me. These days, my idea of dressing up is wearing my black sweat pants with a button down shirt. But, I probably wouldn't be a good candidate for the show since my fear of flying is at an all time high and my fear of a 360-degree mirror is even worse.

I was dumbfounded and extremely flattered that someone, other than my mother and I, finds enjoyment from this little hobby of mine. And then, I was flabbergasted and extremely disturbed that I let myself walk out of the house looking like I had run away from three toddlers who were in the midst of throwing a fit and oatmeal all over creation.

As I was talking to Christy, I was admiring her neatly styled hair, pressed pants and shirt, sandals and manicured nails. Since Christy is the mother of 2.5-year old twins, if she can look that good - I should at least be capable of brushing my hair.

After another hour at the PBK, and in dire need of an intervention, I made my way to the cash register and checked out. My $50.00 rewards barely covered the cost of the throw pillows.

I was handed my bags and a receipt that was longer than Henry.

I put two bags on top of the stroller and two bags inside. Little Henry had to be evicted just to make room for my spoils and the strap from my diaper bag was used as a tether to hold everything in. There were bags underneath the stroller and I had a bag hanging from each arm.

While I walked through the mall, I could see people staring. Since Henry was strapped to my chest and not visible behind all the bags, I saw several people point and I could imagine they were thinking "That right there ... that's a person who is totally out of control. For goodness sake, she doesn't even have a BABY!"

When I arrived home and carried in the 10 or so bags from my day at the mall, Charlie lamented that he hasn't been clothes shopping for himself in over a year, we have been sleeping on the same sheets since the last millennium, and his shoes have holes in them. While I considered what he said, it dawned on me that this was the first time I've ever spent so much money (in a store) on something that wasn't for me. Or my husband.

Charlie added that although he is glad I went shopping, he doubts that he would have spent quite so much money. Apparently, my husband possesses more self-control and financial savvy than I do.

Or at least that's what I thought until yesterday.

On Monday, we went to a play date at the home of some fellow triplets. While we were there, we coveted spotted several toys that our children do not have. There was a playhouse and a large slide that our children swarmed for several hours. And then there were a plethora of ride on toys. And a swimming pool with jacuzzi.

At one point, Charlie pulled me aside and said that for our children's birthday, he'd like to see about buying a playhouse for our yard. He then added that in order to accommodate the playhouse that he has in mind, we need to break out our existing patio, re-route our sprinkler system, re-do the drainage and carve out a play area on our lawn with a bark base and railroad tie perimeter. We will also need to have a new patio installed with a built-in gas barbecue, fire pit, awning, and exterior stereo system ... so the children can listen to Veggie Tales, in surround sound, while they frolic in the yard and he cooks them hamburgers on "our" new grill.

When I mentioned that the money I'd spent yesterday was negligible compared to what he had in mind, he gave a deep sigh and said "Well Jen, everything I do - I do for our children."

Ah, but of course.

It's for the children.

Those little people that live in our house, eat our food, draw on our furniture, keep us awake at night, make small scale disasters everywhere they go ... and are the very reason Charlie and I will still be working when we are 80.

Thankfully, they bring us joy.

And since they've reached the SCREAMING phase, a bit of hearing loss, too.


  1. OK, now that was funny! Thanks for my morning laugh!

  2. i love your blog you crack me up!! you have such a way with words...i wish my blog was that funny... :0)

    i think i would recognize you too, Henry probably helped out a little.

  3. Thanks for a good laugh! Glad you had fun shopping... I LOVE the bedding you chose. I can hardly wait to find out what the sex of our second baby is so I can head to PBK and buy new bedding. :)

  4. As the mom of 2year old tins and a 9 month old, I can safely say I look like crap every time i walk out the door. The kids look good and I guess that is all that matters.
    Glad you enjoyed your much deserved day of shopping!

  5. I wish I lived in San Diego so I could run into you at the mall.

    What kind of bedding will William have? Can't wait to see pictures.

  6. You are an AWESOME writer and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I don't have multiples but I care for 6 children under the five and your blog keeps me going. :) THANK YOU!!


  7. That is SO CRAZY that you were recognized! You = celebrity!

  8. I don't even have kids, but I spend tons of money on my nieces. I can't imagine having 4 kids to spoil....i mean shop for. ;)

    I think it's time for a kid fashion show.

    Oh and I recomend ear plugs.

  9. I don't know when I found your blog - but I lurk on a REGULAR basis, because, well, YOU. CRACK. ME. UP!! It's these daily honest rememberings that will make this blog so special for your kids, well after they pass the screaming stage :)

  10. I can just picture you walking through the mall now, love it!

  11. You are truly funny. I read your blog almost daily and I always laugh. I am the mother of a almost 3 yr old and almost 2yr old (13 months apart) and I always look a wreck when I leave the house. The kids look good but I look like I have been through the ringer and after breakfast, cleanup and getting dressed I usually have been.

  12. Jenna-
    You know I only have one and I always look like crap... but Shayna looks great! Don't worry, if your kids are looking cute (as they always are), then nobody will notice how bad you look - that's my motto! ...unless you're a celebrity... oh, which you are, now!!! So, make sure you are looking good when you leave the house! You never know when the paparazzi will be following you, especially at PBK!!! LOL!

  13. Your writing cracks me up! Did you take a picture of her so you could post it in your blog?

  14. i can't WAIT to hear how the kids do in their new bed!!!

    i for one am not so brave...i got the crib tents. i was thinking i would transition before the baby was born, but i imagined being up with the baby and stoicly placing them back in bed a hundred zillion times a night.............

  15. Jen, I can't believe someone recognized you from you blog. That is HILARIOUS!!!!! If I would have came home from PBK with that much stuff, I'd be divorced. You know that, right? (You are a good man, Charlie Brown)

  16. Jen - thanks for the kind comments. I'm the "Christi" you met at PBK. It was a pleasure chatting with you (and Henry). I've actually been following your journeys (sounds a bit stalker-ish, sorry) since Carolyn's Boards. Your writings and experiences make me smile and I look forward to a new post daily. Maybe it's a form of escapism, I dunno. But I enjoy your blog none the less.

    I have to reveal that I had just come from Church, so the "well dressed" was probably because of that. I also wake up at 4:45 a.m. to shower etc before the kids even get up. Plus I only had one kid (daughter) that weekend because my son was visiting his Grandmother with his Daddy. I'm sure (know) I would have been much more frazzled with both kids. Plus I probably wouldn't have even been in that store with both of the kids. Waaay too overwhelming!

    My other secret is that I hate to iron so I try to find clothes that are wrinkle free and washable! I don't like going to the dry cleaners either.

    Now that I have totally revealed my secrets...

    And for your information, you looked wonderful. So what that you wore "yesterday's" pants. We Mommies don't care... as long as we get to get out of the house!!

    Christi (North San Diego)