Posts tagged shopping
Pennies for Love: Wonder and Wander Together

It's two weeks until Christmas. Well, less than that now...and the clock is ticking! It feels that way sometimes, doesn't it? Like you have to make every last minute count in order to prepare for the parties and gift giving and travel...

Two weeks before Christmas last year for us: hustling and bustling with children activities and lots of work, with absolutely no shopping complete.


In some ways Christmas snuck up on us. I know, it's the same time every year, but we were so immersed in the daily stuff that planning for something even two weeks away seemed luxurious and frankly, impractical.

My husband and I had our social and professional calendars booked. When were we going to have time to shop for Christmas? In exhausted exasperation, we added a date for shopping after his office Christmas party. 

On the evening of the office party, we donned our holiday duds (and even smelled good!) and we whisked off together, wonderful babysitter safely watching over the den for the duration. At the cocktail reception, we mingled with couple after couple, making conversation about one another's holiday plans. "Are you ready for Christmas?" we heard over and over. 

Funny enough, whether we were caught by surprise or not, it was coming - Christmas was coming. In the din of jovial conversations, I remembered the wonder of the season. I was struck by the silly and temporal nature of my worries as I explained over and over that we were behind on our preparations. You know how sometimes hearing yourself say something makes you realize just how ridiculous you are?

That we hadn't (gasp!) shopped for Christmas.

And although I was stressed by all that I had to do, I felt a glimmer of hope that no matter what was still left in boxes or unchecked off the list, Christmas was still coming. Christ's birth would still be celebrated - and in full force at our house.

I watched my husband explain to his colleagues, in good humor, how we were going out AFTER the party to begin our Christmas shopping. He joked about our hot date at Toys R Us in the late hours of the night.

And I started to lighten up and embrace the adventure.

We left the party, laughing together. 

At 9pm, we were the best dressed shoppers at the toy store. With barely a soul around, you could hear our heels and dress shoes, as we meandered the aisles - he pushing the cart and me with my arm wrapped through his - strolling and talking about our life together, our children, and the joy of the season.

It was that moment right before you turn over the snow globe, when everything stands still just for a little while.

We slowed down the world and remembered the family we have built and the love that we share.

All the gifts were purchased. Checklists completed.

And Christmas did in fact come.

And it's heading our way again in two weeks. Take some time to wonder at the Glory of Christmas and wander with the ones that you love. You might have to take late night strolls through toy aisles to do so, but that's okay. Schedule in some tree light gazing together. Or cuddle close over cups of hot chocolate.

My husband's office Christmas party is this Saturday? Guess what we're doing after? This year it's intentional. No stressing... just looking forward to time together thinking about each other and the life we've made.




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?