Grocery Carts, Granola Bars, and Gratitude

Yesterday as the littles and I were pushing our overloaded buggy out of the grocery store with two of us carrying additional bags that wouldn’t fit, I saw him.

The young guy.  With two bottles of water and a snazzy brand of high protein granola bars or some such.  He was in the self checkout lane.

For just a second I zoned out.

(partially because it took great effort on ALL of our parts to get our cart moving with purpose in the right direction and we had made the mistake of stopping to readjust our load)

I wondered if he’d ever find himself one day apologizing to the cashier every. single. time. he approached the checkout conveyor belt with his full cart.  I wondered if he’d feel guilty putting someone through ringing up ALL THE THINGS he had taken so long to painstakingly find, only to get up there, remember three things he’s forgotten, and decide it’s just not worth going back for.  I wondered if he’d watch closely to make sure his littles weren’t reading the trashy headlines on all those magazines on display.  (There’s just some questions you don’t want to answer quite yet. If ever.)

I wondered if exhaustion would ever overtake him to the point that he’d drive straight up to the drive thru window at the place on the other side of the grocery store parking lot, with a van full of FOOD, to order supper because the trip through the store with the littles was more than enough work for one day.  And it all still had to be unloaded at home.  And put away.

I wondered if he’d ever map out how to place all those bags of food in his vehicle, so the freezer stuff could be put away quickly but the other things not so much, as in maybe a couple of bags stay on the floor in the kitchen for a day or two, just because.

I watched him ringing up his few items, and I wondered if he’d ever use a self checkout again, later in his life, except for maybe when he is picking up items for his wife who asked him to pick up some personal things on the way home.  Or when his children beg him to let them “do it,” causing the supervising cashier to have to come over and clear things out or fix the system a total of four times during the transaction.

I thought about where he might be headed, and I wondered how long those bars would last him.  I knew the average on my cart–this not even being a full-fledged stock up trip–and I’d be back before him I was pretty sure.

For just a moment, I wanted to walk out the door with what he had and let him push this stubborn cart across those bumpy things right outside the door taking care not to fling anything off the top or bottom of the buggy.  I wanted to leave without my arms full of food, keys, wallet, receipt, and just go.

Granola bars and all.

And then I realized that if my hands were empty, my heart would be too.  As my littles helped me unload the buggy, first clearing the floor of the vehicle of all their STUFF THAT THEY ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE ANYTIME WE LEAVE THE HOUSE to make room, and then stacking bread here, chips there, frozen stuff at the front so it could be unloaded first…..I looked at them and all the food and assorted things it takes to take good care of them, and I was humbled and near about knocked to my knees with gratitude.  I am sure that young fella has a good life.  I hope he was headed somewhere to do something good that would bring him joy.  But my life?  I’m lucky.  I have children who put up with my wackiness as much as I put up with theirs.  We’re able to afford providing food and shelter for them, and we enjoy little extras too.  We tend to get along well with each other, except when someone touches someone or goes in their room WITHOUT permission.  (Also spying on each other when playing with friends is frowned upon.)  But other than that, we’re a pretty decent bunch, and I’m quite fond of all, individually and collectively.

Some of my favorite sounds are when my oldest walks through the door, home from college, and Miss Sophie’s tail starts wagging and our Princess’ and Cooter’s tales start wagging and all the laughter and games and music and impromptu dancing ensue.

I wouldn’t miss that for all the quick self-checkouts and snazzy granola bars in the world.

This is my season for full buggies that are hard to push, hour long grocery store trips, and bags of groceries on the kitchen floor.

And for now, that’s a beautiful thing.

Love to all.


By Unknown photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Today I went to the grocery store with Cooter, taking only one thing into account.

We needed food.

The three things I didn’t take into account were:

1–It’s Saturday.

2–It’s the day before SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. (that was me yelling with the special effect echo right there, in case you missed it)

3–They were grilling some good smelling ribs outside the grocery store to sell.

So, to say it was crowded would be an understatement.

So I won’t say it.


But I will share what Cooter said as we were leaving.  “Mama, this is what you call ‘rush hour.'”

“Really?” I said, holding back my laughter.  “Why?”

“Well, everyone’s getting ready for the BIG GAME.  Am I supposed to watch the BIG GAME?  Have you ever watched the BIG GAME, Mama?  Wait, who’s playing in the BIG GAME?”

(And yes, his voice did boom all announcer-like every time he said those two words.)

“Well, it’s the Seattle Seahawks playing the New England Patriots.”

“Oh well, I’m for the Seattle Seahawks, yes.”

I nodded and said, “Good.”

“Wait, who’s playing the other team?”

I laughed and teasingly said, “The Seahawks are playing the other team.”

He laughed too.  “No Mama, who are the Seahawks playing?”

“The Patriots.  The New England Patriots.”

(And to show you how packed the store was, it took us this entire conversation to get to where we were parked.)

As he got into the car, he said, “Yes, okay no, I don’t think the Patriots need to win.”

“Me either, buddy.”  (Long story, but yeah.)

“You know why?”  he asked me as he buckled himself in.

As I unloaded the cart, I absentmindedly asked, “Why?”

“Because England has no business playing football.  That should definitely NOT be their national sport!”

I laughed out loud and made a mental note to focus on a little more geography in our homeschooling.  SOON.

As I was about to take the cart back to the corral, I heard him say, “You know what should be the national sport for them?  You know what they should be playing instead?”

“No buddy, I don’t.  What?”

“QUIDDITCH!” he yelled, kicking his legs and laughing gleefully.  “QUIDDITCH IS WHAT THEY SHOULD BE PLAYING INSTEAD OF FOOTBALL!”

And so there you have it.  The Zoo Crew’s Super Bowl predictions.  Not only should all balls at the BIG GAME be properly inflated, but there should apparently be three of them.  As in Quidditch.  Because those boys from England, that’s all they should be playing.

Giving thanks for the laughter and wishing you all a SUPER day, whether you watch the game, just the commercials, or nothing at all.  Make it SUPER whatever you do!

Love to all.


Running Out of Stuff

I am out of eggs. And butter. Do you know what that means?

Besides the fact that I need me some chickens to babytalk to? And to pick up a cow on the way home?

I cannot make a pound cake.

That spells trouble around here.

Having the eggs and butter does not guarantee that I’ll make a pound cake.  But having everything I need to make one at any given time, that’s important to me.  I live in the South.  It’s what we do.  At any given moment, I might need a pound cake to take to Someone for Some Reason.  (It’s rare that one gets made and stays here for eating.  Ask my poor family.)  Thank goodness I had enough to make the one for my Neighborfriends who made their final move to their new home today.  But then that was it–I was completely out.  (And my Neighborfriend is the one whom I have borrowed eggs from, and canned tomatoes, and–oh dear, I am in trouble.)  Oh the shock to my system!  It is time to be getting myself to the store.  Post haste.

Mama made great pound cakes.  Daddy liked to have a thick slice for breakfast with a big helping of peanut butter spread across–you’ve got your eggs, your dairy, and your protein.  Win!  She even baked them in the summers, but only really early.  My Aunt reminded me of this today, and it made me laugh.  My Mama was “old school” about some things.  Even after we had central air conditioning, Mama refused to turn the oven on in the summer unless she absolutely had to.  She didn’t want to “heat up the house.”  So if she wanted to bake a pound cake, she’d put it in the oven before 7 a.m., and “well, if I’m going to heat up the house for one, I might as well bake two.”  And so she did.

And you know why Mama could make up her mind at 6 a.m. to mix up a pound cake? Or two?

Because she didn’t run out of things!

My Mama had a system that was just about beyond reproach.  She kept the sales papers for the week on the stool beside where she sat at the kitchen counter.   On the other counter, she kept a stack of calendar pages from her Mary Engelbreit Page A Day calendar.  She used these for all sorts of things, but especially for her grocery list.  And she didn’t play around at it like I do.  When she was almost (not completely, ahem) out of something, she wrote it down on her list.  She compared prices and, making them stay true to their word, had Wal-Mart price match for most things, saving herself numerous trips.  She had grocery shopping down to a science.  I wish I had asked her more questions and paid more attention.  But no.

I have gotten some better.  I do try to shop ahead.  Which often leads to three jars of Duke’s Light (the BEST!) mayonnaise in the pantry and no mustard to be found anywhere.  Sigh.  Or everything to make the Crunchy Corn Medley except the water chestnuts–hello, where do I think the crunchy is coming from?  Or the sour cream for the pound cake, but *sniff* no butter or eggs.  It’s kind of how I roll these days.

I thought maybe meal planning would help.  And it did, somewhat.  But Mama didn’t plan meals and then go shopping.  She shopped the sales and then planned what she would cook.  (Have I mentioned we were raised on sale…..with a coupon?)  And Wednesdays at Publix?  For the penny specials?  She was there.  And if it wasn’t something she could use, she found a good home for it–whether her church’s food pantry or the Backpack Buddies of Bare Bulb Coffee or the mission at Daybreak Shelter in Macon.  Nothing went to waste.  She was so good at buying meat on sale, packaging it so she could cook her meals later and then freezing it.   Her organization was something to be envied.  Oh, and earlier today? When I was lamenting my extinct gallon zip-loc bags, so I could freeze my sad bananas to make banana bread another day?  Never would have happened at Mama’s.  Pretty sure there’s some extras up in the top of her cabinet now.

Oh dear, I'm really not sure.  I'd better go check.  *sigh* I'm really not very good at this.

Oh dear, I don’t know.  I’d better go check. *sigh* I’m really not very good at this.

So I’m off now to make my grocery list.  I’ve pulled the sales papers and picked a spot to keep my list AND a pen.  (I do NOT need an excuse not to write it down immediately.)  I’m going to try to do this Mama style.  So I won’t run out of such things as butter and eggs again.

But if you see me on the side of the road trying to load a cow in my van, just keep driving.  You’ll know then that my efforts to shop ahead didn’t work out, and I need to keep the source around all the time.  Well that and the fact that I really want to babytalk me some chickens.  And hold baby goats in my lap…..and let my littles ride a donkey….. *sigh*  I like to dream big.  Head in the clouds.  No wonder I run out of stuff.

Oh you are a sweet baby, aren't you, little Sweet Pea?  Yes you are.  Oh my.

Oh you are a sweet baby, aren’t you, little Sweet Pea? Yes you are.  Oh my.  It’s already started.  And this is just a chick we met at the Fair last fall.