1. It's a trip you look forward to, usually kicked off with joyful family singing or DVD Disney movie playing in the car.
2. You pull into the parking lot and notice just how packed it is, and for a split second, you think "Oh no" but then quickly shrug it off by telling yourself it's always like this. Which is true, it is.
3. You enter the venue holding hands with one another and smiling with excitement.
4. Upon entering, you are overwhelmed by the bright colors and happy displays everywhere. Oohs and ahhs can often be heard by you and yours.
5. You start down the path feeling upbeat and prepared. After all, you have a plan and a budget, and this is going to be awesome!
6. 15 minutes after arriving, you are a quarter of the way through your budget. You think--again--"Oh no", but then quickly shrug it off by telling yourself that it's not so bad. You'll make adjustments and all will be okay.
7. 25 minutes after arriving, you are less joyful than before, slightly annoyed by the throngs of people who apparently cannot see you at all as they barrel through, and then you hear one of your children crying that they're hungry while another tells you LOUDLY and in a panicked voice that they have to poop. Bathrooms seem miles from where you're standing. Great.
8. 3 hours after arriving, you estimate you are at about 110% through your spending budget. Your feet are swollen and sore. You have miles to go before you reach the end.
9. You exit the venue at a sluggish and distanced pace from one another, overstimulated by the bright colors and happy displays. Muffled grumbles can often be heard by you and yours.
10. No matter how happy you are when you arrive, you leave exhausted, irritated, poor and with more stuff in tow than is reasonable. Every.time.
And a little extra special something unique to IKEA: the battle of the all wheel shopping cart. Seriously, how could the same folks who came up with all of that amazingly simple yet functional and aesthetically pleasing furniture come up with the idea of the all wheel shopping cart?!? Not useful at all AND an incredible way to suck all of your energy reserves...to push a cart.
Everyone in the store winds up looking like either a sad, wounded animal or like a bad parody of the Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. You'd think it would get easier once it was loaded down a bit with all the stuff you put in it, but no--it gets WORSE. By the time we get to checkout the only thing that calms us enough to keep us from completely snapping on the poor checkout person is the smell of their cinnamon rolls. Well played, IKEA, well played.
Drunk on the aroma of that delightfully tasty spice, our contempt is quelled. We then, instead, concede our defeat and shuffle on out in silence to load our cars to maximum capacity. Except for the person in your family in charge of pushing the cart. That person's not shuffling. That person is silently crying and muscling the cart with their arms while their poor legs are spinning out in the opposite direction. Damn all wheel shopping cart.
But it was fun, no really... fun. Can't wait to go back. And I totally will--often.