Thursday, August 27, 2009

HAPPY Meal?!?

Most people don't believe me when I say I can feed my entire family dinner at McDonald's for under $10. For those who doubt, here's the run-down: plain hamburger for me ($.89), fries and a side salad for Quinn ($2), a double and a McChicken for Carter ($2), ditto for Taylor ($2), and 2 double cheeseburgers for the little four ($2. The trick here is pulling the double cheeseburger apart- one burger and one bun on each side- and folding it up like a taco. The cheese helps stick it together, and... voila! Two "taco burgers!") Round this out with 8 small ice waters (free), and you have a van full of happy campers and a McDonald's store that officially hates you.

I used to to feel bad for ripping McDonald's off with my frugal (Okay, cheap) ways, but my McDonald's experience today completely absolved all guilt.

Tanner was at kindergarten (sigh) so I "only" had the triplets while running afternoon errands. It occurred to me that it would be much easier to throw lunch at them in their carseats than it would be to go home, laden with groceries, and put something together. As we pulled into the drive through, I made my first mistake: I actually looked at the Happy Meal menu instead of jumping straight to my more familiar friend, the Value Menu.

Hmm... I thought. I only have three kids with me today. It would be such a treat for them to actually have french fries and (gasp!) a soda.

And then I saw the featured girl toy: a miniature American Girl doll! It was as if I was 4 again myself- I was mesmerized by those perfect little dolls!

So I rationalized: getting an entire meal plus a drink plus an American Girl doll for $2.59 was a bargain! I excitedly ordered 3 little girl Happy Meals and was sure that this purchase would bring us a car ride of happiness.


Until today, my youngest children have been blissfully unaware that Happy Meals even exist. They probably don't even know that McDonald's serves french fries! They were simply thrilled to receive their meager little taco-burgers and ice waters. Boy, did I open Pandora's box!

When I handed the neatly-packaged meals to each girl, their eyes went round and large. They cautiously peered inside and their little mouths dropped. They couldn't pull everything out fast enough! Fries were flying, sodas jostling, and cheeseburgers falling to the floor. Food was entirely forgotten when they saw the toy inside. They were in sheer heaven! For like a minute. Until they opened the wrapping and saw that their "toy" was a book. A very small American Girl book with a teeny little American Girl doll sticker inside.

And then they realized that their books were all different, and that Riley got the American Girl with black hair when she has blond hair and that's not fair, but Sydney's American Girl had red hair so she didn't know who she should trade it with, and Bailey's American Girl was African American. And then they all wanted Addy, the African American girl, because her dress was yellow and she had stickers with quilts on it and she was "prettierest."

So I took their "toys" and told them they could have them after they ate their food. Five minutes of screaming later, they dug into their french fries and noticed that somebody had more fries in her bag than they did, and then there was more crying and counting of fries. So I pulled over and dumped out all the fries and redistributed them. And there was momentary food-induced peace until Bailey tasted her soda and yelled, "It's Sprite! I hate Sprite! I wanted cocoa!" (?) And then everybody wanted cocoa. And they all freaked out that they had "two breads" on their burger, and threw the top bun on the ground with disdain and made a ketchup-mustard-mess of folding their burger into taco formation.

By the time I got home, we were ALL crying and food was everywhere but in my childrens' stomachs.

All this "happiness" for a dollar more than I usually spend to feed our clan of eight! I think we were much happier before we explored this brave new world of fast-food options. Lesson learned: we'll unapologetically stick with our taco-shaped burgers and ice water, thank you very much.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Things I Never Thought I Would Say As a Mom (but, sadly, have):

1. "Sorry guys, but I already told you: You can't have lollipops until you finish your PopTarts."

2. "No! We do not flush somebody else's pee pee! Everybody gets to flush their own pee. It is a family rule."

3. "Carter, you HAVE to stop practicing that piano! You've been on that thing for like 3 hours... go outside and play already!"

4. "Taylor, I love it when you get creative, but for the rest of the day, you may not make anything that involves paper or scissors or glue or yarn or stickers or paint or crayons or markers. They are now off-limits."

5. "Hey, guys! No using the remote control as a weapon! And same goes for the telephone. We do NOT hit each other with technology!"

6. (at the dinner table) "Okay, we've had our fun but it's time to stop talking like pirates, okay? No more 'aaaaarghing' and calling each other 'mateys' and 'wenches', okay? No more pirate talk!"

7. (while playing pretend) "No, it's okay, guys. You can ALL be Quasimoto. Anybody who wants to can pretend they're Quasimoto. Nobody HAS to be Esmerelda."

Okay, so in my defense: A) They were eating whole-grain poptarts for a quick breakfast-on- the-go when the bank lady announced that she was sending through some lollipops for the kids. B) Never thought I'd have a family rule about flushing somebody else's pee, let alone make ridiculous comments to enforce the rule, but I potty-trained all four at the same time and they were very territorial about flushing. C) Carter plays the piano nonstop and, until we moved the piano from the family room to the office, it was very loud. D) I'm not one to stifle creativity, but Taylor's incessant projects can get very messy. You can only pick tiny yarn snips and pieces of tape out of the carpet so many times in one day... E) When the triplets were 2, it was like WWF at our house. Following one split lip too many, we actually had a list of "contraban" items. F) After watching Pirates of the Carribean with the big kids and having a pirate birthday party for Tanner, the pirate talk had been going on for hours and was driving this particular wench crazy. Aaaargh! G) For some reason, my little kids were obsessed with Hunchback of NotreDame, and Riley was in love with Quasimoto. Which meant that they ALL wanted to be him, and they walked around with their backs hunched and their faces squinched up, and tried to make somebody else be Esmerelda. Go figure!

But still...