Tag Archive | grocery shopping

Not quite right


One topic of conversation that never fails to generate lots of laughter at our parish moms’ group is the hilarity that often accompanies growing vocabularies. Kids really do say the funniest things, and the reason they are funny is because the children uttering the slightly askew words or phrases are completely innocent of the meanings of their mispronunciations.  Heaven knows our tribe has had, and continues to have, its share of anguished English, with occasionally uproarious results.  For example, all of our children have had a dreadful time properly pronouncing the word, “sit,” which is unfortunate because that’s quite the oft-spoken word around here.  So far, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Baby Guy have all managed to holler, “shit, shit SHIT,” at a sibling who refused to remain seated in a chair or shopping cart.  It is, I believe, a law of nature that small children will only do this when there is a large crowd of people present, each member of which is ready to extend a glower at the (apparently) cursing child.

Mr. Man’s current bon mot is “snake” for steak, while one of his buddies has finally mastered the pronunciation of “truck.”  Bugaboo, who has always loved to sing, used to proudly belt out “Jesus Wants Me for a Zombie” to any audience, and Beanie once reduced the entire checkout section at Wegmans to helpless laughter by pointing to those helium-filled objects that are the objects of most small children’s desire and loudly asking, “Mommy, wan’ some big boobs pease?”  I will never forget the sweet, octogenarian lady who turned to my little girl with a merry smile and said, “Sweetie, so do I.”  Then there was Bugaboo, who strikes up conversations with anyone who stops to say hello when we go shopping, responding to the question of an elderly gentleman who inquired of her what she was helping Mommy find at the big store one day with, “My Daddy needs some new panties.  He uses the potty, you know.”

Then there was the beat-all that emanate from Beanie.  My stock answer to the “I wants” used to be, “Hey, Mommy wants a Maserati, but that’s not happening either.”  One day, Beanie was striking out on all fronts with her “I wants,” and when I employed my standard reply, she burst into tears, wailing,  “I don’ WANNA mommysnotty!”  It took me almost ten minutes to compose myself enough to call my husband to relay that one.

Mr. Man is a huge fan of all the Bill Martin, Jr. books.  The example above is the only one that still has a photographable cover.  After a dinner that involved four pasta-coated faces, followed by a rowdy hour in the yard, Mr. Man wandered upstairs, grabbed a stack of books, and clambered into my lap for some storytime.  I absolutely love that he calls Baby Guy over to join him when he decides it’s time to read.  At any rate, we read through several of his favorite board books; when we had finished his initial selections, Mr. Man meandered back to the bookshelf to choose a couple more, since he didn’t have to take turns with his sisters and Baby Guy hasn’t yet figured out how to crawl while carrying a book.  Seizing his favorite (and the best-known, I suspect) Bill Martin title, he ran back to me, waving his trophy in the air and merrily shouting, “BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW!”

I couldn’t help it.  I laughed so hard tears squirted out of my eyes.  When I recovered myself, two little boys were sitting in front of me, staring at me with puzzled smiles on their faces.  Gathering both boys and the book into my lap, I started up a rhythmic chant of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” until Mr. Man was saying it correctly and clapping his hands to the beat — which had the bonus effect of getting him to clap his hands every time the phrase “chicka chicka boom boom” came up in the book as we read.

It occurs to me that moments like those are the ones the Lord sends to remind us that teaching and learning are both pretty enjoyable if I have the right attitude, and that the proper response to making and correcting errors is taking the moment to recognize the humor in our mistakes.

Incidentally, I’d love to read any stories of mangled language any of you care to share.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for laughter, for Your blessings who are learning to speak, and for the abundance of ways You have provided for them to learn new words through books, music, and playing with friends.  Remind me to always keep a light heart when correcting them for even serious errors, and to teach them to enjoy the moment of levity when they realize a mistake.  Please, Lord, teach me to enjoy that same brief laugh when I err, as I often do, and to make my corrections with good humor and gratitude for the opportunity to fix my errors, so Your blessings will see that, while we’d rather not make mistakes, we will because we are not You, and You will grant us to wisdom to laugh at our own folly if we ask it of You.

Color our world


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.

Here’s the song reference.

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.

Rolling, rolling, rolling


Yesterday brought a flurry of fun to our humble abode, as Beanie had a soccer game and Bugaboo had a Daddy date at the roller rink.  Since neither of these events required a departure time before 10 a.m., it seemed like a good morning to make pancakes and sausage for breakfast; while I was cooking, the girls decided they needed to phone a couple of relatives and invite them to join their adventures.  Beanie called Nonno and Deedaw, and was delighted to learn that they would, in fact, be attending her game, which would give her a five-person cheering section, since Baby Guy and Mr. Man were in our traveling contingent.  Bugaboo had to leave a message for the uncle she tried to reach, but in all honesty, she didn’t seem all that disappointed that she would get Daddy all to herself.

After breakfast was eaten and appropriate attire was donned, Beanie, the boys and I headed off to the local high school where a saintly woman teaches tiny people the fundamentals of soccer.  The sky was clear, the sun was warm, we had a double stroller, crackers, and water bottles, and were ready for a morning of fresh air.  When I left, my husband was cleaning off the rollerblades he hasn’t used since at least 2002 while Bugaboo helpfully dusted his knee pads and chattered excitedly about learning to skate.  It took me a minute to get her attention so I could give her a kiss goodbye.

Mr. Man was far more enthusiastic about exploring all the leafy green growing things in our front yard than getting into the van so we could get Beanie to her game on time, so by the time he was buckled into his car seat with a very stern admonition not to ever push the button that closes the van door when Mommy’s body is blocking the door, we were running tight on time.  Thankfully, traffic was light, but we still had a bit of a dash to get to the field, me sprinting with a double stroller filled with squirmy little boys, Beanie clinging to the side of said stroller and trying to keep up a stream of chatter about everything she saw while running.  We got to the field with about ninety seconds to spare, and I had a little pep talk with Beanie while Mr. Man and Baby Guy raided the diaper bag for snacks and toys.  It went a little something like this:

“Are we going to keep our eyes on Coach Jackie and the big girls today?”
“YEAH!”
“Are we going to do what Coach Jackie and the big girls ask us today?”
“YEAH!”
“Are we going to have fun with our teammates?”
“YEAH!”
“Are we going to stay on the field?”
“YEAH!”


This picture is from her first game.

Beanie has a great love for the giant orange watercooler the coach and her assistants bring to the games.  She likes to hug it, and finds the little pushbutton tap fascinating.

“Are we going to use our water bottle instead of hanging out with the watercooler?”
“YEAH!”
“Yay, Beanie!  Look, there’s your team with Coach Jackie!  Run run run run run!”

After a quick hug and kiss, thirty-eight inches of high explosive sprinted off to join her teammates.  She overshot them by about fifty feet, being caught up in the utter joy of a full-bore sprint on a sunny day.  Luckily, she remembered what she was supposed to be doing, and hurried back.  For the first half of practice, she did a stellar job of following instructions and staying with her team.  After the mid-practice water break, though, she had a little trouble sticking with the program, and I was grateful for Nonno and Deedaw’s arrival so I could herd her back into the field of play a couple of times.  She did manage to kick a goal, and to kick a ball out of the goal, but she wore out with about five minutes of soccer time to go, and decided to play at being Spider-Man on the goal netting instead.  Since Beanie has two months to go before she turns four, I count that a success.

In the meantime, we had borrowed a full-sized ball from the hoard in the middle of the field, and Mr. Man had a gigglingly good time playing a little soccer with Nonno — who coached my husband’s soccer teams back in the day.  Deedaw sat neat the stroller and Baby Guy, laughing at Beanie’s enthusiastic efforts and Baby Guy’s intense interest in the grass.  By the end of practice, grandparents and grandchildren were pretty tired, so we shared a round of hugs and kisses, then parted ways.  After a quick stop for lunch, we headed home to get the boys a much-needed nap and await the return of Bugaboo and Daddy.

Beanie was pretty tuckered out, too, so we piled a couple of pillows on the couch and snuggled up to watch the season finale of My Little Pony.  She curled up behind my legs, hugged my calves, and whispered, “I love you, Mommy.  I’m glad I get you all to myself,” before sighing happily and hugging her pillow while she watched Twilight Sparkle save Canterlot.

About an hour and a half later, Bugaboo and Daddy returned home, bearing a week’s supply of milk (four gallons, if you were wondering), a container of my favorite Wegmans sushi, our one working camera, a blue glow stick, and gigantic, if tired, smiles.  Bugaboo burbled on about her great skating adventure while I mouthed to my husband, “Did she actually skate?”  He nodded yes, I did a quick visual check to make sure there were no bandages or plaster casts on either of them, then settled in to hear the account of Bugaboo’s day out.

Apparently, I had no sooner left with the rest of the tribe than Bugaboo informed Daddy it was time for them to leave as well.  She has picked up my tendency to want to be five minutes early for arrival or opening times, so we don’t miss anything and have time for disaster management if needed.  Off they went to the skating rink, where my husband discovered he was the only Dad on rollerblades, but far from the only Dad accompanying his little girl on her very first roller skating outing (he also shared the useful information that during the little-kid open skate, adults can be on the skating floor in their socks to help little wobblers along, which bodes well for Mr. Man’s chances of learning to skate soon).  The Saturday morning skate is a Disney-themed event, with the result that the attendees are mostly within a couple of years of Bugaboo’s age.

Having acquired a pair of rental skates for Bugaboo, Daddy proceeded to switch out Tink sneakers for boots with wheels, and helped our oldest daughter carefully walk across the carpeted walkway around the skating rink itself.  She figured out pretty quickly that all she had to do was walk on these strange contraptions, and she would move forward.  While she is still a little shaky about the idea that she will keep moving even if she doesn’t immediately take another step, she definitely had a good time, managing a couple of complete circuits of the rink.  She even managed to use the potty without removing her skates.  Not too shabby for a not-quite-five-year old.  My husband apologizes for the lack of pictures of Bugaboo actually skating, but he was busy holding her hands.  He has his priorities in the proper order, methinks.

At any rate, after an hour or so of learning to skate, Bugaboo complained the rental skates were tight on her feet (she inherited wide feet from both of her parents), and asked if she could take her skates off and go to the play zone.  Since Daddy did not realize there is a separate charge for the play zone, he helped her off with her skates and sent her off to play.  She merrily climbed, slid, and bounced until another little girl stopped her with the admonition, “You’re not supposed to be in here.  You don’t have a wristband.”  A third youngster took the admonisher to task, “Hey, that’s not very nice.”  Bugaboo, however, seeing the wristbands on her two playmates’ forearms and noting the lack of one on her own, came down from the netting into Daddy’s waiting arms.  He hugged her and told her he was proud of her for following the rules when told about them, and apologized to her for not knowing she needed a wristband.

After that, they headed for the snack bar to get a little lunch.  Bugaboo opted for a slice of pizza and a small bottle of water, while Daddy had a hot dog and a big bottle of water.  Apparently, while Bugaboo was in the play zone, Daddy reacquainted himself with the joy of rollerblading, and had managed to work up quite a sweat.   Since Bugaboo was tired of skating and Daddy wasn’t sure how to get a wristband for the play zone, they decided to head out in search of further adventures once they’d eaten their lunches.  My husband asked our eldest what she would like to do next, and, without hesitation, she replied, “We could go to Toys ‘R’ Us and I could point out what I’d like for my birthday.”

That’s actually kind of a ritual around here.  While our kids don’t watch a lot of TV, they do watch enough that they see ads for lots of toys.  We’ve taken the time to explain to them that advertisements are designed to make people want to buy things, and that what you see on TV isn’t necessarily real.  I actually did a “proof of concept” them on this about a year ago — they saw an ad for those “Sham-Wow” things and thought they looked like a lot of fun, and since they kept insisting they HAD to have them, I ordered a set.  Reality quickly dawned on them, and they haven’t really trusted commercials since. If one of them sees a toy she thinks looks like fun, she’ll usually ask for a trip to the store to inspect it and see what it actually does.

Off to the toy store they went, Bugaboo explaining to Daddy that she understood no purchases would be made that day.  We now know what her little heart’s desires are, and, as usual, it’s an interesting mix, with everything from a Strawberry Shortcake scooter to an Optimus Prime helmet making the list.  After the toy store, father and daughter went to Wegmans to restock our milk supply, pick up a surprise for Mommy (the aforementioned sushi), and get a small container of macaroni and cheese for Bugaboo, who was hungry again.

The boys were still sacked when the traveling party came home, so after we had shared stories of our respective adventures, we decided to read stories to the girls with the Capitals game on, muted, in the background.  By the time the boys awoke, I had started dinner and Daddy, exhausted, was napping on the couch.  After a hearty dinner where everyone, including Baby Guy, had seconds of something (he is developing a serious addiction to spinach with ricotta), the ambulatory members of the tribe boiled out the back door for a post-meal romp in the back yard.  Baby Guy, in the meantime, decided to play tug with Smudgie (thankfully, he is the gentlest of giants), since Bo was on guard duty with the other three tiny people.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, in the very beginning of the book of Your love letters to us, we read of the vastness and majesty of Your creation.  Your blessings explored as many parts of it as possible today, from the sun and wind to the beasts and plants You created to feed us to the simple joy of a canine companion.  You called the little children to come to You, and we are trying to teach them that whenever they pause to greet another person, admire the brightness of a sunny day, or appreciate the taste of their food, they are approaching You with a prayer of thanksgiving for Your great bounty.  Thank you for these days of wonder You have granted us with Your blessings, and for allowing us to recall the simple faith and joy of our youth through their eyes.  Please help us teach them that when the world is too complex, returning to the simple things created by You brings us closer to each other and You, and You will fill our hearts with happiness when we love You and each other.

My girl wants to potty all the time . . . not.


As much as I love being out and about with the tribe, I truly loathe days when I have more than one lengthy errand to run.  While it’s fun to sing silly songs (oh, please, click the link, but put down your drink first) in the van with the tiny people, and while we all love compliments from strangers on their cuteness and general good conduct, it greatly diminishes my face time with them when I have to visit both a big-box store and a grocery store in the same day.  It also interferes with meals, naps, and storytime, which is sort of the holy trinity of keeping the peace in our humble home.

We are also currently attempting to get Beanie potty trained.  Of our four, Beanie is the only one who ever got to be “the baby” for more than a year; what’s more, she shares the habit with her sister — and both of her parents — of becoming so absorbed in things that interest her that she completely detaches from the world around her.  That particular double play has made getting Beanie to consistently answer calls of nature by using the pink princess potty that plays (so help me) “Trumpets Voluntary” that she picked out all by herself, or the Tinkerbell ring for the big potty that she also picked out all by herself, an exercise in frustration for all involved.  Timers, candy, bribes, stickers and about three dozen other tactics, including me putting her on the pot and insisting that she stay there until she eliminates have all proven fruitless.  She uses the potty when she’s not doing something interesting, and poops in her pullup if she feels like she’s not getting enough attention (she will actually tell you this if you ask her).  We’re at about a 70% success rate now, and believe me when I tell you that is a leaps-and-bounds improvement.  Days when we have to be out for a significant amount of time, other than at a relative’s house or playgroup, usually result in setbacks.

We had to visit a local discount retailer this morning, one that I genuinely loathe, but which happened to be the only place within 50 miles where I could procure some supplies I desperately needed to get our pantry semi-organized.  Bugaboo was also in need of a reasonably priced tee-ball glove, and Beanie needed shinguards for her rookie soccer season.  Last year’s experience taught me that if one is in need of sports equipment for little girls under 40 inches tall, one is well-advised to get the equipment before sending in the registration forms.  Luckily, we were able to get in and out pretty quickly, and made it home before Beanie needed to use the facilities.  I sent the girls off to the potty as soon as we got in our front door, heard two potties flush while I was changing Mr. Man and Baby Guy, and figured I had it made.  Moments later, as four sweet little faces were busily being stuffed with baked potato soup and warm bread (Baby Guy is a potato freak in good standing), the aroma that is familiar to parents worldwide wafted across the kitchen, prompting the also familiar query, “Okay, who stinks?”

“Beanie does!”  Bugaboo helpfully offered.  “I can smell her from here.  You should probably tell her it’s not nice to poop in her pants.”

Lord, have mercy.

I changed the Beanie, made sure everyone ate enough lunch to avoid a mid-afternoon clamor for Pez, Cheez-Its, or pretzels, put the guys down for their nap (a nap Mr. Man never took, as he has recently discovered it is infinitely more fun to jump on his mattress than to sleep thereupon), poured the girls a little more milk, and settled in on the couch to do my mid-day weather check.  The day was sufficiently warm that I thought it might be advisable to spend a little time at the park this afternoon . . . and then the Weather Channel broke my heart.  Snow in the forecast for Sunday.

I love snow.  I don’t mind driving in it, playing in it, or shoveling it.  What I do mind is dealing with panic buyers at the grocery store the day before snow is forecast; I’m assuming that their pathological fear of frozen stuff falling from the sky momentarily erases the concepts of good manners and common sense from their brains.  The combination of a grocery store replete with snow-panicked people and four children under the age of 5 is one of five things that absolutely terrify me; the other three involve literally going to Hell, falling into a sinkhole, getting Zizi mad at me, and being stuck in a scene from an Indiana Jones movie.

Sighing, I realized that we would be making a second trip of some length when Baby Guy awoke from his nap, and called my husband to advise him.  He agreed that while it would have been nice to be able to go shopping en famille Saturday morning, it wasn’t going to be worth the hassle of having to get all of us out the door at the crack of dawn to avoid the madding crowds.  After popping a Veggie Tales movie in for the girlies, I sat down to make my list.  As luck would have it, we were pretty well-stocked on frozen veggies and nonperishables, but our fresh produce, meat and fish supplies were nearly exhausted.  This was not going to be a quick trip, and there was going to be a conflict with the kids’ dinnertime.

I sent Beanie off to the potty twice while Baby Guy was napping.  Bugaboo decided to follow her both times, and both times reported to me that Beanie had, in fact, made deposits in her little potty and that it probably needed to be cleaned.  Hearing Baby Guy on the monitor, I shoved a handful of granola bars into my purse as I shook our youngest’s bottle, grabbed Mr. Man’s sippy cup, then tore down the stairs, calling over my shoulder as I leapt, “As soon as Baby Guy eats, we’re leaving, so put on your shoes and GO POTTY!”

I heard little feet scampering all over the upstairs as His Royal Fatness slurped down his mid-afternoon meal, them little feet clumping, then the bathroom door slamming, then the potty flushing twice.  Okay, I thought, we’re set.  Kids in the van, me in the van, everyone has clothes and shoes on including me — let’s rock and roll!

After a quick chat with a neighbor, we were off.  Fortune favored us with one of the coveted car carts in a corral with a parking space nearby, so Baby Guy and his car seat were quickly installed in the top basket, Beanie and Mr. Man were belted into the car portion, and Bugaboo walked by my side, her pride in being my big helper mitigating her disappointment at not having a steering wheel with a functioning horn.  Luckily, I have the store layout memorized, so we managed to make unbelievably quick work of a seventy-nine item list; it took a little over an hour, which is almost miraculous at 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon in a store that is renowned for its prepared foods.  Bugaboo was her usual helpful self, Baby Guy obligingly smiled at everyone who passed our cart, I only had to disentangle Beanie and Mr. Man once, and they stopped their game of “who can grab the cart wheels” on only my second stern warning.

Unfortunately, I had been so focused on the shopping task at hand that I had completely forgotten to take the tribe to the restroom when we arrived at the store.  Consequently, when I was ushering the ambulatory tiny people back into the van, I was shocked to note that Beanie was soaked from her bum to her ankles — and oh, so fragrant.  Being without spare pants on this occasion, I made all possible speed back to the house.  She complained about being wet and smelly all the way home.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank you for a grocery budget that enables us to feed Your blessings wholesome food whenever they are hungry, plus have enough on hand for neighbors in need.  Thank You for the parents and grandparents who taught me how to make inexpensive foods taste delicious, and for the wisdom to teach Your blessings as those elders taught us — we eat what You have provided and give You thanks for Your bounty.

Lord, I need some wisdom, some patience and, perhaps, some grace.  One of Your blessings fouls herself as a way of getting extra attention.  I’m not sure what else to do, Lord, and I don’t want her to miss out on opportunities to play with friends her age.