Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Gabe turned 7 on Sunday and for his birthday he really wanted to go swimming. He also really wanted to go to McDonald's. We let our kids pick somewhere to go out to eat for their birthday and we usually get some good suggestions. Gabe picked McDonald's. Due to scheduling difficulties, only 8 of the kids made it to McDonald's with us. That didn't stop four people at the booth next to us from asking all sorts of questions about all those kids ... "Are all of them yours?" one lady asked. Julie broke it gently that they are all ours, in addition to the four who weren't with us, which makes 12. That prompted all sorts of conversation. We patiently answered the questions and our inquisitors eventually mosied out the door and we finished our excellently tasty nuggets, fries and hangaburgers. Then one of the guys in the group that was amazed by Julie's productivity showed up at the window holding his poodle. "This is my baby," he said through the window. Things like this happen all the time to us.

It wasn't until today that I managed to take Gabe swimming at an indoor pool in Williamsburg to satisfy his birthday wishes. The kids who wanted to go swimming included Gabe, Eli, Ezra, Olivia and MerriGrace. One problem, though. MerriGrace didn't have a swimsuit because she loaned it to Madeline, who had gone with Evie to a friend's birthday party that involved staying at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, which features an indoor water park. But good news abounds. Right next to the indoor pool we were going to is a shopping center that has JC Penney, Target, Kohl's and a Dick's Sporting Goods. We would find a swimsuit; I was sure of that. I just didn't realize it would entail going to all four stores. Ay caramba. We hit Penney's first. Alas, no swimsuits. In the second store -- Target -- we found no swimsuits. But Olivia doesn't have a winter coat and I found this little coat that made her eyes light up. Literally. She's 21 months old tomorrow and the girl has a clothes thing. How does this happen? Anyway, this coat was, well, I don't know how to describe it, other than fashionable. Her teenage sisters would wear it, if it came in their size, of course. But it wasn't really functional, from a warmth standpoint. She'd look good, but not necessarily feel good in a warm sort of way. So I put the coat back on the rack and we headed for Kohl's. To find a swimsuit. We walked in the doors and to our left were these mini-shopping cart type of things that are kind of like double strollers with a place in the back to put all the clothes. I put Eli in the front seat, Olivia behind him and Ezra stood in the place to put all the clothes. This elderly lady in a wheelchair was watching me and smiled sweetly. "Five children," she said. "Such beautiful children." I made a command decision not to say anything to this frail looking woman in a wheelchair about our other 7 children. I didn't want to be responsible for the shock it might cause her and any immediate health issues she may have experienced. So we rolled through Kohl's to the girl's section. No swimsuits. That's really shocking. No swimsuits in the dead of winter. We had hit JC Penney's -- no swimsuits. Target -- no swimsuits. And then Kohl's, only to find no swimsuits. Amazing, isn't it. I did find a functional pink "bubble coat" for Olivia that was really warm ... but she wouldn't put it on. Seriously. Is a 21-month-old girl imbued with some sort of fashion lens that sees a pink bubble coat and says, "Does Dad think I really want to wear that coat? Gross!" I bought it anyways and managed to wrestle it on her before we got outside in the 39-degree, windy and freezing afternoon. The girl was going to stay warm whether she looked good or not. And really, it is a cute coat. It's pink! With a little dark pink heart on it! And a pink hood!

Our last stop was Dick's. Surely they have swimsuits...right? I mean, sporting goods ... swimming ... that's a sport. Right? Yes, they do have swimsuits at Dick's. I'm happy to report that they do, especially considering it was the last option for us. They even have a swimsuit that fits MerriGrace. Or did. It wasn't cheap, but I was not to be denied. At that point I would've hocked Olivia's pink bubble coat to buy a swimsuit for MerriGrace so we could take Gabe swimming. I looked at a clock in the store ... we had left Gloucester two hours ago. Sigh. I managed to buy the swimsuit and within 20 minutes or so we were in the water. Gabe was happy. And best of all, Olivia didn't have to wear her functional pink bubble coat in the water.

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