It all started because we were out of milk...

I decided on Costco, because I still prefer the over-sized carts for hauling 3 little beasties through the isles, and having Costco-amounts of milk on hand is never a bad idea at our house.

I thought to go before lunch and the afternoon nap - but Henry had a long nap this morning, and I wasn't about to wake him! So noon came and went, and by the time Henry woke up - I had three very hungry caterpillars; the older two more grumpily so.

So we did lunch. And naps.

And when the older two awoke from their naps, Henry was asleep again. So again, we waited for him to wake.

Finally, fed and changed, Henry was ready. So I began the Great Gathering In that must take place any time we leave the house. It usually takes me at least fifteen minutes to get all my kids and all their gear together and into the car.

This time, it took a whopping HOUR and fifteen minutes! There were meltdowns, great escapes, missing shoes that were found and then inexplicably lost again, socks that were put on feet only to promptly be removed again, a squirmy girl's hair to do, a very stubborn and independence asserting boy, and a little tiny that happens to hate his car seat with a very special kind of loathing.

Finally, with Daphne in one arm, Henry's car seat in the other, and a Wyatt attached to our little caravan with the tenuous threats of his mother, we made it to the garage.

I didn't have the keys.

There was no way I was bringing all kids back into the house with me where they could begin the antics once again - so I put Wyatt in charge of Henry (can you be such a grown-up big brother and stay here with Henry for a second?) and hauled Daphne back inside and into the basement with me where I did the where's-mah-keys dance until I remembered - I had asked Bill to put them in the basket in the window earlier when Daphne had set off our car alarm with the panic button on the keyring and he had dashed out to save the day.

Keys snatched. Back out to the garage. 3 struggling kids wrangled into car seats and latched into place. Sunglasses on. Ignition. Set into reverse gear.

Big sigh.

I looked at the clock - and almost gave up. Really? An hour and a half? And now it was so close to dinner time, I was about to have a grumpy boycott on my hands. Again.

So we were extremely naughty and went through the drive-through. I allowed myself some inner-loathing as I ordered nuggets and fries for my poor children, and a diet coke for myself.

Things were calming down, I thought. Then the gas light went on.

We drove to the nearest Costco and into their fueling station. Henry was screaming. Daphne was on "mommy, mommy, mommy" repeat.

Membership approved, card slid, pump ignited. I put the gas nozzle into my car, and pushed the handle in to begin fueling - ahhh! A full tank! I love that feeling! - and began the song/dance to attempt to calm Henry down.

"Mom?" Wyatt asked. "I need to go potty."

"Oh, okay! Can you hang on? We're just getting gas, and then we'll go in and you can use the bathroom."


The nozzle wouldn't catch. I kept pushing, wouldn't catch. wouldn't catch. I looked - tiny river of fuel down the side of my car, and a puddle on the ground.


I pulled the nozzle out and there was a little puddle of fuel remaining along the rim of the hole, and it was bubbling. Not fizzy soda bubbling. Rolling boil bubbling.

"Do you need help?" asked the Costco gas attendant. He came over, saw what my car was doing, and said, "well, that's definitely weird," and began to check my car. I don't know if this is a common Costco courtesy, or if this guy was just extra kind and helpful, or if he had a 2 month old at home and so could empathize with the sounds coming from my car - but I was very grateful. And his accent was adorable. Is it offensive to those with accents that I find them charming?

He tried to explain to me that sometimes there's air in the tank if there's a crack or a leak in the fuel line - but that he had checked and everything looked fine - and that he'd never seen anything like what my car was doing, before.

He kept saying that. "I've never seen a car do this, before."

Me neither!

He kept checking my car, trying things, and I kept checking Wyatt - who was holding out like a pro.

Finally, my Costco Gas Attendant Hero told me he felt that my best option was to take it to one of the two car shops in the near area. It had to be close, because - you know - I was out of gas and everything. he said, "Show them what it's doing and see what they say!"

I think he wished he could be there to see their faces.

I thanked him - but I had a matter more pressing than even my crazy-behavin' car!

I loaded 3 kids into a delightfully over-sized cart and rushed my boy into the bathroom. We then wandered Costco while I tried to reach Bill on my cell. We read books, looked at camping tents, watched the fork-lifts in the back haul pallets for a while...ever-treading that delicate balance between being entertained and having a meltdown.

I was grateful at this point that we had been naughty and had visited the drive-through. It was getting on toward the kids' bedtimes.

Finally got ahold of Bill - help was on the way! - and we hurried and did our grocery shopping while he (borrowing my mom's car) drove to get us.

We loaded the kids' car seats into my mom's car - with a once-again screaming Henry - a juggling act that took nearly twenty minutes. I fed Henry in the front seat while Bill ran in to Costco to get himself some diner - poor guy.

We took the van to a nearby shop. Transmission only. They recommended a place up the street. We took it there - overnight drop. We noted the open time and left our crazy van to fend for itself while we began the trek home.

I was wound so tight by this point that everything was making me jittery.

Which was when Bill said, "So...want to hear my bad news for the day?"

He had been pulled over.

After recovering from the blow of that news (and the $47 ticket), we laughed hysterically the whole way home. Everything was just so darn funny.

Except, perhaps, for Daphne in the back seat on "mommy, mommy, mommy" repeat.