Hi there. Come on in, let me take your ticket. Go ahead and have a seat in the Way-Way-Back Machine, and we'll start our journey shortly.
Everyone comfortable? Okay, here we go.
It was September of aught-six. I was most of the way through my Master's program, spending two and a half days a week in sunny San Diego, California for lab classes. I had recently taken up jogging...again...when the Fates intervened and cried, "Yea! It is written! Thou shalt jog NO MORE." (Yes, the Fates are like Shakespeare meets The Bible. Just go with it.)
Everyone back? That was fun, wasn't it?
The better part of the day today was...well...significantly better than what would go down in the afternoon. (Pun not intended, but embraced.) We went to the library in the morning for a playschool "big group" meetup. (Post and pictures here.) The kids made sock puppets and played with instruments and had a grand old time. Eleri was right there with the big kids, playing along when she could, hanging out and exploring the room when the big kids were busy with their craft project. The morning actually started out relatively warm, weather-wise. Which was surprising, given the forecast for snow, but not unwelcome. We hung out at the library until about lunchtime.
We're having friends over this weekend, making crab cakes from scratch. None of us has ever made them before, but we've got a promising-looking recipe and an adventurous crew, so it should be a lot of fun. After our library time, the kids and I headed to the grocery stores to pick up some ingredients. There's this international supermarket nearby that I've been meaning to check out for a while, and I thought they might have some good, fresh crab meat there, so that was our first stop. It was kind of a crazy place. Very crowded, and they seemed to be in the process of restocking just about everything. There were pallets everywhere stacked high with goods. Over in the seafood section - which was extensive - we perused live crabs and lobsters (no thanks), tanks full of catfish and tilapia and eels, and a bunch of other kinds of fresh fish on ice. Soren saw some fish bodies peeking through the ice piles and asked, "What are those snakes doing?" He also insisted he wanted to "taste just one of those ice cubes," repeating this request several times even though I assured him that no, no, deargodno, that ice was not for eating. At one point we passed what appeared to be the fish heads section - a couple of different varieties of fish heads, stacked in a bin at the end of one of the coolers. I don't remember the first type (cod, maybe? mackerel?) but the other was monkfish. And the heads were HUGE. Easily as big as Eleri's head, if not bigger. Wild.
Anyway, all through the store, we wandered, trying to find crab meat, but between difficulties with reading labels and the general crowded/cluttered atmosphere (never mind the effort required to look like I - Whitey McWhiterson - and my (equally pale) children had not wandered into the store by mistake*), PLUS the fact that Soren was hungry and crabby and growing more and more impatient with every passing moment, I never did manage to find what I was looking for. My choices seemed to be live crab (no), crab legs (still too much work, no thanks), or canned crab "with spices" that somehow included wheat gluten products and would therefore not meet the dietary needs of one of our guests. So we left, regrouped, got lunch, and tried our luck elsewhere.
*I really don't want anyone to take that the wrong way. What I mean is that I felt pretty out of place, but the desire to not look like an idiot is very strong. So I kept trying to walk all casually and confidently, as though I knew exactly what I was doing, knowing all the while that I was totally not pulling it off.
When we got to Trader Joe's, the wind had picked up, and hoo-boy was it an icy one. I was regretting my decision to forgo a sweater when I'd gotten dressed in the morning, even though when we left the house it had been a lot warmer. Anyway, we managed to get what we needed - plus a heap of other groceries for the coming week - and headed home. It was still really cold when we got home. I steeled myself, then hopped out of the car, bundled Eleri into the backpack-carrier, grabbed 3 heavy bags of groceries (and library books), released Soren from his car seat, and started to hustle us all down the sidewalk toward the lobby. I thought it would be easier to just take the elevator instead of the stairs, given the heavy load of groceries and the fact that a certain boy tends to get all whiny and draggy about going up the stairs in the afternoon. So we were hustling, Soren giggling about how silly we were, kind of half-trotting through the cold.
And then, as toddlers do, he tripped over his feet. Stumbling into my path. My momentum didn't have any hope of being slowed by the fact that he kind of stopped once he got in front of me, so we all went a-tumbling down. And since I was carrying those bags, I couldn't really get my hands out in front of me in time to break my fall (despite the fact that it all seemed to happen in slow motion). I did get the heel of one hand down, but it was too little too late, and once again, my face took most of the impact. Specifically, my upper lip and two front teeth.
There was kind of a stunned silence for a couple of beats after we all fell. Then Soren started crying, and Eleri started crying (though thankfully she only had a slight bump...it would have been a LOT worse if I'd been carrying her on my front, rather than on my back), and I realized that I'd chipped both my front teeth. And only a few months shy of 20 years after I'd done it the first time! (9 years old, bike accident, Mother's Day)
Soren was okay. He'd skinned up an elbow and a knee just a bit, but nothing was bleeding. Eleri was okay. I didn't even notice the bump on her head until after we'd been back inside our apartment for a while. I was starting to bleed rather a lot from my mouth, but I managed to get us all picked up, shaken off, and herded inside in short order. The real trick was keeping my mouth covered in the elevator so as not to freak out the little old lady riding up with us, and even that wasn't so difficult, since she was easily distracted by Soren, who was making polite conversation.
I'd been saying just yesterday that I really needed to get around to finding myself a dentist here and scheduling an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I didn't expect to be making an appointment quite so soon, but I suppose the Fates are just funny that way. I'm bummed that I'll be spending tomorrow at the dentist instead of at the barn, but I'm glad none of us was hurt more seriously. And really, if it's a choice between me eating cement and one of the kids doing it, is there really any question about which option I'd choose?