Yesterday was sort of an odd day, but it did involve a lot of sleep,which was a definite plus. We’ve had a lot of early morning thunderstorms this week, which has led to the tiny people waking too early and snarking their way through days. I’ve had my share of cranky moments, too. The boys slept until almost 10:00 (this is rare — Beanie and Bugaboo are generally up by 7:00, while Mr. Man and Baby Guy usually make their presences known by 8:00), and by the time they awoke, the girls had giggled their way through several art projects, several stories, and an interesting round of make-believe starring Bugaboo as Camomod, the Flying Hero Girl (the name is her own creation) that I had to interrupt to tell my oldest daughter that she was not permitted to practice her flying skills by jumping off the headboards of the beds.
Once Mr. Man and Baby Guy woke and devoured pumpkin butter sandwiches and bananas for breakfast, it was time to head for the grocery store. Armed with a list that was longer than it strictly needed to be (Grandma and Grandpa will both be here today, so I wanted to have a few extra dinner ingredients on hand), a pocketful of coupons, and a bottle for Baby Guy, I challenged the three walking children to a race to the van. For the first time since Mr. Man learned to walk, I didn’t have to herd any lollygaggers after I buckled Baby Guy into his seat, so I’ll have to remember that tactic.
The tribe was delighted to discover that their campaign for a car cart was successful, and there were a couple parked directly in front of the store. After a brief dust-up over who would get to share the car portion of the cart with Mr. Man (Bugaboo prevailed, and I explained to Beanie that whining and screaming in the parking lot will not procure her heart’s desires), we were off. Beanie’s annoyance at being denied the second steering wheel was assuaged by my assurance that since she was walking instead of riding, she would get to be the big girl helper and put things in the shopping basket.
We entered our neighborhood grocery through the produce section, which is always a fun place to be with the tribe. Mr. Man has been working on the names of colors lately, and Bugaboo was cheerfully quizzing him on the colors of carrots, peppers, and bananas as I perused. Beanie carefully selected a bag of dark green avocadoes, inquired about the quantity of bananas we had at home, and needed a little help getting the five pound bag of carrots into the cart. Once the cart was about a quarter full with fresh fruit and vegetables, I looked at the next item on my list, which happened to be pudding cups.
I do not normally buy pudding cups, but there were a few factors in play. Factor one: I had coupons which reduced the price of each pack of pudding cups to about thirty cents. Factor two: our grocery store has weekly features where, if you buy a certain number of items on the list, you get twenty cents per gallon off a gasoline purchase, and pudding cups were one of those featured items this week. Gas is still close to $4 a gallon here, and my van has a twenty two gallon tank. Factor three: we do a lot of picnicking in the spring and summer, and pudding cups are nice to have on hand for lunches in the park. Factor four: the food bank is looking for dessert items, and pudding cups fit the bill and the budget. Four factors, four wins, eight packages of pudding cups. Stewardship comes in sweet, small, preservative-laden packages sometimes.
Beanie literally jumped for joy when I informed her that she had the awesome responsibility of picking out the eight packages of creamy goodness since she was, after all, my big girl helper. Pudding cups of every flavor went flying into the basket, and somehow, she managed to take requests from Bugaboo (caramel) and Mr. Man (CHOCKWIT!!!!!). I was delighted that she even remembered that the puddings with the blue label were “Grandma’s pudding,” and carefully selected a package of sugar-free cinnamon pudding, with an admonition to me not to forget to give it to Grandma (Grandma has diabetes, but enjoys a nice pudding cup from time to time).
As we proceeded down the canned fruit and juice aisle, Bugaboo convinced Beanie to trade places with her, so Beanie could ride in the car and Bugaboo could be my helper. While they were trading places, Bugaboo informed me that Mr. Man had removed something from one of the store shelves and was refusing to replace it.
There are rules governing very small children and objects removed from grocery store shelves when I still have a couple dozen items on my shopping list. First rule: check to see if the object is breakable or openable by the child. If it is, replace it with something else of a similar size, weight, and color that is on the list anyway, which cannot be opened or broken by the tiny person. Second rule: remind the child that we have to pay for whatever is in our cart at the end of the trip. Third rule: if it’s something I was planning to get anyway, thank the child for helping and remind him or her to ask before rendering any further assistance.
Fortunately, Mr. Man had acquired a plastic jar of unsweetened applesauce, which he loves almost as much as hot Italian sausage. He cradled it gently in his wee hands all through the store, and briefly surrendered it to our smiling checkout lady, holding it up to her with a hopeful, “Pay take home eat?”
Baby Guy’s milk lasted just long enough for us to complete our selections and pay for our purchases (one of these days, I’ll post my standard grocery list as a help to any readers who struggle with grocery budgets; we feed our family of six on under $400 a month, and each meal includes at least one serving of some fresh produce item), and we headed for home with plenty of food and everyone chuckling over Mr. Man and his applesauce. Groceries were stowed while the tribe demolished the lunch we’d picked up at the store; after that, Mr. Man and Baby Guy were ready for a nap.
Unexpectedly, Bugaboo was ready for a nap about an hour later. She hasn’t really napped since just before she turned 3, which is why we have “quiet time” while the boys are sleeping. Reading, TV time, or quiet crafts (or the balance of seatwork, sometimes) can fill those two hours, but only on very rare occasions do either she or Beanie actually sleep.
Beanie took a quick snooze, too, but Bugaboo’s nap was of the three hour variety, so Beanie got a lot of “I have Mommy all to myself” time. We read her favorite stories for a while, and then she asked for some paints. It irritates her when her colors get muddled, so she’s been practicing cleaning her brush with water and a paper towel between colors; she’s also determined, for reasons known only to her, to figure out how to paint a completely straight line. For about an hour and a half, she adorned big sheets of paper with her practicing, presenting each one to me with a chirpy, “I made this just for you!” and receiving my smiling, “You do lovely work, sweetheart. Thank you for thinking of me when you make something beautiful.”
I love my job.
Today’s prayer: Lord, we know how important and beautiful the rich array of hues in Your creation are because, in the beginning of Your creation and the beginning of Your book of love letters to us, You made the rainbow as a sign of Your promise. Thank You for the healthy eyes You have given us to see and appreciate them, to admire the beauty of Your handiwork, and thank You for Your little blessings who delight in them. Help me teach them that every shade You have made is a reason to celebrate, that there is beauty and purpose in every hue in the heavens and on earth, and to see the blooming of flowers and the browning of leaves as parts of the glorious rainbow of Your promise of Heaven if we walk in friendship with You. When we err, as we will do, give our eyes the grace to see the colors around us as reminders of that promise, calling us to wholeheartedly seek the happiness You promise us we will find through earnest repentance and return.
And thank You, Lord, for the days of simple pleasures and the grace of a heart that sings with joy at the simple knowledge that You are.