Saturday, March 24, 2007

3/24/07 Gabriel and Julian go to the mall

A confluence of several events put us at a most unlikely place this afternoon: a mall. And Vallco, at that, my alltime least favorite mall!

Those events were:

1) Dave had to work this afternoon
2) Katrina woke up early from a nap
3) Julian never took a nap
4) I got to (had to) sleep this morning, then went to the Y and ran while Dave played with Katrina, putting me in great shape for the afternoon
5) The Smiling Frog closes at 4 on Saturdays (which I found out only after getting everyone out of the car, argh)
6) It is well past time to get the boys new shoes and sandals anyway.

Even more shocking than me taking three kids to a mall on a nice Saturday afternoon was that it was actually a good experience. Imagine that!

First, as soon as we entered the mall, we came across a small corner store that hosts a model train club, which is open two Saturday afternoons a month, and it was open. The boys loved seeing the model trains and tracks and all the equipment. Incredibly, they cooperated about leaving when it was time to go.

Next, we found the Howard's shoe store very quickly and easily. I was impressed with the setup, which has a big column in the middle of the store with a circular bench around it -- plenty of seating and perfect for trying shoes on kids. The guy there was a huge help, measuring the boys' feet and giving me good direct advice on sandals and regular shoes. He had a helper go back and get shoes, talking to me all along, so the usual dreadful wait while someone rummages around in the back was eliminated. It was effective: we left with 4 more pairs of shoes, and $192 fewer dollars, in the space of under 15 minutes. But, the guy was right that now, especially at Gabriel's age, they're much harder on shoes, and don't outgrow them as fast, which is exactly why I'd decided it was time to take them to a real shoe store. They also got Silly Putty gifts from the shoe store, which they both loved.

Then, we passed by Mrs. Field's Cookies. Always a big hit with me.

Finally, since Vallco is half-deserted, I didn't mind the boys being rambunctious and running in the empty hallways, and didn't feel like I had to lecture them constantly about not running, shouting or pushing each other. The other day at Whole Foods, at the meat counter, a woman caught my attention and informed me the boys were fighting. As I tried to deal with them, the butcher had a question for me, and I was being completely torn in two directions. After I was done at the meat counter, I kneeled down and talked sternly to the boys about the rules, but to little avail. It's especially stressful at Whole Foods, which is always crowded and has narrow aisles. Not to mention I'm always carrying Katrina at the time too. So today at the mall having nice wide empty halls, and no streets or parking lots as we went from place to place, was something of a relief. Unfortunately for Vallco, what I liked best about it was its emptiness, not usually a good thing for a mall.

Katrina was practically not a factor at all on today's excursions, calmly watching everything from her perch in the stroller or in my hip carrier. Just like Gabriel as a baby: get me out of the house, I got places to go, things to see!

Too bad I thought I'd forgotten my camera at the mall today, only to discover later I had it in my purse all along...argh!

I got some photos of the boys playing out back in their new sneakers anyway.

The next step in our day didn't go so well. I called Dave at work and suggested we go straight to Outback for dinner, since I had everyone in the car anyway. It was only 5:45, we might get there before it gets packed....nope! We checked in for a 25-30 minute wait!

Since I had to nurse Katrina anyway, we decided to stick out the wait. (I hate waiting at restaurants, especially with the kids.) Nope -- boys too rambunctious, running and getting out of sight or too close to parking lots, not listening, etc. Bail!! I'd looked forward to not cooking and cleaning tonight. At least we had some nice fresh pork chops from Whole Foods -- hard-won chops at that.

We saw a neat sight this evening east toward San Jose: a blimp. It was pretty far, but I think I saw GoodYear on it (not sure though). The boys were fascinated, and watched it from our bedroom balcony until it gradually drifted out of sight.

Later, when they were playing out back with chalk, I was floored to see that Gabriel had drawn a blimp in chalk, along with his and Julian's name with the graffiti-like touch of arrows (Zeke would be proud). He explained that he put the lines under the blimp so it wouldn't fall when it landed.

Believe it or not, this is the first thing I've ever seen Gabriel draw of his own volition. He was very proud and insisted I take a picture of him with it.

I found a great way to get some "me" time in tonight: skating. Yes, I went back to the mall after all kids were in bed, where the ice rink is, and tried to practice. The Saturday night public session is mostly little kids (shouldn't they be in bed?!) and socializing teenagers, but I was able to get in a decent skate. If nothing else, all the people flying around me forces me to learn extra control.

Running, shopping, dinner, skating....a packed, but good day, which is about to be topped off with a nice warm bath.


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