Posts tagged moms
Ideas for happy family grocery trips

Wanna talk about something mundane with me today? How about grocery shopping? No? Doesn't float your boat?

When I tell friends that every Sunday (it used to be Monday) night you can find my family doing the same thing, they think I'm a little wacky (perhaps deservedly so). Especially when I tell them we're spending our time at the grocery store...all five of us...together. We've been doing family grocery trips for the last decade or so, adding new family members to the dynamic as they entered the world. :)

Here are my thoughts on how to make it work and even make it fun. I'd love to hear your tips!


I am not an ultra organizer. I do, however, try to put together a list, look through sales flyers, clip a few coupons, and have a rough idea of a menu before we make the trip to the store. I've taken the family on thissojourn without doing this and, well, it's not pretty. So I find a little up-front work is super helpful. We also engage everyone in contributing to the week's meal ideas (my daughter's 1st grade class made a cookbook of kids foods that has been very helpful with this). We talk about what items are on sale and how to best spend our family dollar.



This excursion does not work without a willing and energetic partner. My husband is the driver (of the cart) and the one who can instigate fun as necessary. Hang from the cart like it's the monkey bars? Sure! See how many containers of apple juice you can pick up? Yes. Daddy's here for support. Momma's job is sticking to the list and offering treats. My job would stink (I mean, I'm not the funster parent here) except I get to talk with each kiddo about something extra yummy just for them. Sharing is optional on these treats.


Every Sunday dinner is spent dining in at our grocery store. We come with our giant bag of canvas bags, our refillable water jugs, sippies of milk/juice (we're quite a site). Our store has a second level for dining and the kids love to look out at shoppers or down at the parking lot activity. I find it helps keep everyone's appetites in check as well to start off with full tummies.


We know every attendant at the deli. Why? Because our store has a policy of offering free cheese slices to children. And for my bunch a free slice of cheese is a great big slice of Heaven. Many of these women and men have now greeted and gifted my children since their infancy, and we, too, know about their children and grandchildren. Community always helps.

Once your children reach a certain age, let them in on the budgeting, too. We have our oldest bring her calcuator or Ipod and keep a running total of our expenses. Are we near our budget? Did we go over with a certain item? What's her prediction for the final total? It's an awesome way to teach, and it keeps all of us accountable to our budget.


Since we embrace the full family-ness (chaos and all) of the trip, each child helps to take items off of shelves, put them in the cart, and scratch items off the list. We typically pay with gift certificates purchased through my children's school, and each child even gets to practice paying for the bill by handing one certificate each to the cashier. Everyone helps to bring the goods into our house and put everything away. It's become a point of pride to see who can carry more bags and I'm all for it.

Honesty here: some trips are a challenge. We've had Sunday evenings when I wonder why the what(!) did I think this was a good idea.

But mostly I enjoy the ordinariness of it all. We are a real family with tired, fussy, fun, and quirky days and I'm happy we can share the amazing and the mundane together.

What do you think? Are you for the full team approach? Or does a quick trip through with no kids work better for you? Or something in between?


Happy Kiddos: Leave it behind

A few weeks ago, as we were shopping in a larger office supply store, my husband spotted three glittery calculators in the clearance aisle. It is important to note that these were three different colored calculators in desirable shades for each of our three kiddos. When he offered to purchase these sparkly presents (calculators can be educational, too, right?), they were thrilled.

I wasn't really sure why they were so excited about...calculators. Granted, my daughters, 5 and 7, are intrigued by numbers and solving problems. But I comparison to other toys and electronics, what would these simple machines have to offer?

We hopped in the minivan to venture back home. And that's when the imitations started.

C, my 5-year old, buckled herself into the backseat and put her calculator up to her ear. I heard something along the lines, "Oh... uh hum... sure...I'll call you." In the rearview mirror, I spotted M (7) typing away on her device and pretending to swipe to the next screen and enter her password. L (2) was kicking his legs and asking me to find a new game for him.

M continued to look down at her screen as she jumped out of the minivan, walked up the stairs, took off her backpack. She said something that I couldn't understand as she talked down into her phone, I mean calculator.

I'm not the most perceptive person at times. But I got it.

And I know they weren't even trying to point it out to me.

But I got it.

My pal, Jennifer Cooper over at Classic Play wrote a post on Friday that hit home:

"Yesterday I started an experiment. I’m trying to see if I can go a week without my kids seeing me use the computer. This means, no checking email, facebook, instagram, etc when they’re around. Perhaps it’s the social scientist in me (what’s left anyway), but I’m curious to see what effects, if any, this has on the kids or me. I know modeling can play a role in parenting, so I’m curious about it."

She in her good humor recounted her successes and failures (go read it :)).

I work from home half of every day, and I always feel the need to have my phone next to me to hear the ding of a recent email or the tone of text. But if I'm being honest, and I think I have to be, I also love having the opportunity to check in with friends and beatiful words and images, too.

It is my wide eyes and not the top of my head, looking down at a screen, that I want my children to remember as their mom's expression. It is my nasal laughter and the pitch of my voice, that I want them to hear and not my impatient bark or hurried response.

I'm trying Jen's experiment this week (and likely for weeks to come) to keep the electronic check ins to necessity - and I won't pretend that I don't know what necessity means.

Rachel over at Hands Free Mama is a great inspiration. Check out her thoughts on living for what matters.

She posted this gut-wrencher from Professor T. Ripaldi, and it's the kind of quote I can't not share with you (proper use of a double negative here for me).

When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life, childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live – a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question, ‘What are you going to be?’ ...

How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other … adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him for, after all, life is his and her journey, too.

Would you like to join in the experiment, too? I have a feeling I'm going to need some buddies to help me move along!! :)

How do you keep your electronic attention span in check?

Happy Kiddos: Where we are

That's my little one, or I should say my oldest daughter, M. She's really into trying new styles with her longer hair, and this is her beautifully designed and executed side bun. She accomplished this smooth styling on her first try.

She has since tried it five, six, ten, maybe even twenty-five times with no success. Sometimes the ponytail bubbles or she can't hold all the layers tight as she wraps the holder around the mound of hair. Other times she thinks she has it all wound just as she wants it, only to step down from the stool and have it all fall out.

And as much as I get frustrated with her for spending so much time on something I consider an unnecessary concern for a seven year old, I had the opportunity to be in her shoes these last 24 hours.

I'm writing this with my Z pack of antibiotics next to me as I battle through a third round of strep throat in three months. I have never had strep prior to this year! M is upstairs sleeping off a bad bout with a gastrointestinal bug that dehydrated her and kept her out of school for a couple of days.

I like my challenges to be neat and tidy. I like it when there's a clear solution to a problem. I like to move quickly to resolution.

Illnesses, your own and more poignantly your children's or loved one's, remind me that life is not about everything fitting neatly into the bun. Life is messy and complicated and tragic and annoying and beautiful and unbelievably amazing all mashed up together in a great big bowl.

As M was struggling to calm her nerves and stomach pains last night, she asked me to rub her feet. As a baby she'd always loved having her feet massaged, and I have many rosy mental pictures of her smiling baby face, enjoying the snuggles.

But she's a big second grader now, and she's independent and already letting me know where she does and does not want my help.

But for one night I was allowed to sit on her bed and rub her feet again. I got to watch her perfect face fall asleep and peek over as her little sister, all curled up under her covers, slept soundly unaware that anything was amiss.

I knew it was one of those moments I'd treasure because it felt so fragile, so fleeting, and so precious.

I had plans and I had lists of things to do that just didn't happen, and instead I now have a warm memory of my slumbering little girls and an unexpected moment of grace.

And I have an appreciation for all those happenings that don't fit in my neat and proper bun.

And I'm grateful.


Mommy and Daddy School: Bookclub Reads


Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive and interested in last week's post on my daughter's bookclub. This evening we celebrated our second (and maybe final for the summer) meeting, and it was again such a joy to be with these young minds and senses of humor.

Our read for this month was Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. She's a magical woman who offers children cures to their greatest (parent-identified) ailments, such as picky eating, sibling fighting, and selfish behaviors. We rated our book (it scored a little lower than the Chocolate Touch), made simple folded books to house our own cures, and sculpted some of the objects used in the story.

For those moms and dads interested in starting up a club for your 6-9 year olds, here are 9 reads we considered...easy to moderate level chapter books that have a great theme for discussion/crafting! :)

The Chocolate Touch

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle

Stuart Little

The Lemonade Wars

The Magical Miss Plum

Ramona Quimby, age 8

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Charlotte's Web

Do you have any great chapter books to add to the list? I'd love to see your top reads!