A Gumball for You and You and You

My children often ask for some change so they can get a gumball out of the candy machines at the exits of stores.

I rarely have any money on me as I am accustomed to paying for everything with a debit or credit card.

The other day when we were exiting the grocery store they asked if they could get a gumball. I quick answered “no” because as per usual I knew I didn’t have any quarters in my purse. I then stopped and remembered I had a dollar bill in my wallet. I walked across the length of the store over to the customer service desk. I waited in line. I asked the lady behind the counter for 4 quarters in exchange for my dollar. She gave them to me and then the kids and I walked back across the store to the gumball machine.

I did this because I remember.

I remember being a little kid and going to The White Store with my mom. It was a clothing store in our town. It was kind of a fancy store.  The smell of new hit you when you walked in. The floors were carpeted in a plush dark green. The walls were papered with gold and cream stripes. All of the clothes hung perfectly organized and straight on their racks. The mannequins wore perfectly assembled outfits fit for a glamorous girl ready to go to work or out for the evening. In the middle of the store was an elaborate glass showcase filled with beautiful jewelry. The store clerks were always eager to show you a tray of rings or help you find the perfect bracelet.

I hated this store. It was so boring to me to have to walk around and look at clothes. It was torture to have to be quiet and not run around. Admittedly, we did not shop there too often. It was only when they were running sales or someone in the family needed something for a special occasion.

In my eyes there was only one good thing about an outing to The White Store. I always knew on the way out my mom would let me get a gumball from the little red machine sitting in the entrance way. I remember the gumballs had the word FORD printed on them in white. I always wondered why. I remember always hoping I didn’t get black and more times than not I ended up with black. It tasted like black licorice. I would have rather had the purple one with the grape flavor but I never complained. I was just happy I got to turn the crank and hold my hand out waiting for the gumball to roll down the tunnel.

So that is why I walked across the store to retrieve some quarters for my kids. I hope someday they remember the times their mom gave them each a quarter so they could turn the crank and watch the gumball travel down the chute and then place a gumball so huge in their mouth that they could barely close their lips around it. I hope they remember they got the good ones; the purple with grape flavor.

1984 My Dad and I all set to go to the Father/Daughter dance. I'm wearing a dress from The White Store

1984 My Dad and I all set to go to the Father/Daughter dance. I’m wearing a dress from The White Store

The Cranky Lady Got Lubbed

Yesterday my shopping list included: milk, kid shampoo, Rit dye, band aids, carrots, diapers and fabric softener.

This kind of list screamed for Wal-mart. I avoid Wal-mart as much as possible due to their lackluster customer service but with a list like this and only wanting to make one stop…. off to Wal-mart my almost two-year old and I went.

My son, Cesar and I made our purchases and approached the check-out. The light indicating that the check-out lane was open was on but no one was standing there. As we pulled into the lane the middle-aged cashier woman came around the corner huffing with her head down and immediately began swiping our items. There was no customary, “Did you find everything today?” She did not smile or say a word. I instantly knew this lady was NOT having a good day.

My son is the happiest and most social child out of all my children. He is the one I will be most worried about when it comes to white vans and offers of candy. He views all people as potential friends and likes everyone!

My son said “Hi” to the cashier. She said nothing back. He kept saying it over and over. He was trying desperately to make eye contact with her. His eyes were shiny with glee. He was wearing his biggest smile. Still the lady would not reply to him. My son is also persistent and I wanted to tell her just to say “hi” to him because I knew he would not stop until he got a response.

When the lady finished bagging our items and ringing up our total she said, “I’m sorry I didn’t say hello to your child. I’m NOT a kid person. I think it’s because I’ve never been a mom that I don’t like kids. I also think I’m cranky because I’m hungry. I don’t mean to be cranky with you but I think I just need to get some food. I got yelled at earlier today by a mom because I didn’t say “hi” to her kid either. I told her I was sorry, I’m just not a kid person.”

I just sat there listening, smiling and shaking my head. I was caught off guard. I didn’t know what to say. I thought about saying something rude but sympathy was more what I felt for her rather than anger. There was more than hunger coursing through her veins. So I just nodded and put my bags in my cart.

I started to walk away and Cesar looked at the lady and said, “Bye!! See Ya!!! I Lub you!!!

The lady’s face froze. She stammered out a “Bye.” Then she wrangled out a “Did he just say he loved me?”

I looked at the lady and I said, “Yes, he just said he loved you!”

She smiled with tears in her eyes and said, “You have a real cute kid there.”

I thanked her and walked away.

My not quite two year old served a very important purpose yesterday. I think he made that lady a “kid person” for at least a minute and he let her know she was loved.

I Lub You!!!

The Grocery Shopping Festival

There was a time in my life when, if someone gave me the choice of amputating my arm or going grocery shopping, I very likely would have picked the amputation. No one ever made me this offer so I continued to grocery shop.

Grocery shopping was overwhelming even before kids; with all the choices and sales, but once I threw kids into the mix it was downright awful.

There were the typical fights about who got to sit in the cart and the constant nagging on my part for all the parties involved to stay out of the way so I didn’t run anyone over. When my son was three he hoisted himself up to look down into a meat case and fell in. Yes, only his kicking feet were viewable as the rest of his body lay on a clump of packaged hamburger deep down at the bottom. There have always been many dinner suggestions as we stroll down the aisles…either things I don’t want to make, don’t know how to make or things we can’t afford. My favorite expeditions were when my now 5 year old son was 2. He wanted me to steer the cart so I hit every gray tile that was sporadically spread around the store. This was not an easy task unless you wanted to zig ten feet one way and zag 3 feet another way. I wasn’t going to do it and it always ended up in a screaming, howling tantrum that led everyone in the store to just stop and stare. I knew they all thought I had denied him a box of cookies when in fact it was over a GRAY SQUARE.

There’s a grocery store in my town called Festival Foods that offers a free supervised play area. You can drop your kids off and pick them up when you’re done shopping. In theory, it sounded great but when I went there the prices were higher than Wal-mart or Aldi. Our family of five lives on a monthly grocery budget of $300-$350…so every penny counts. They had coupons at the door but it seemed a daunting task to read the sales and scavenger my way through the store. They have an amazing produce, meat and bakery section so I usually only shopped there when I needed some good meat or their delicious croissants.

Festival Foods Grocery Store

That is until I discovered their website! Every Sunday they post their new sale items. All you have to do is click on any of the items you want and it automatically makes a shopping list for you that is printable and well organized. By only buying the food that is on sale I have managed to keep us in that $300-$350 monthly budget and get quality food. No, we are not eating like kings on this budget but we get plenty of healthy things like fruit (grapes were recently $.29 lb.), vegetables (sweet corn was $.10 an ear this week), dairy products (butter was $1.29 this week) good quality meat (fresh chicken breasts for $2.48 a pound) and our cupboards are overflowing!

Everyone at this store is really nice too! Not like a forced customer service friendly either. They are sincerely nice. They smile. If you can’t find something they actually bring you to it instead of pointing. They stop and chat with you. They remember my name and my kid’s names. These are the kind of people you wouldn’t mind sitting down and having a cup of coffee with. (I’ve considered making voodoo dolls for some of the store employees I’ve encountered at other shopping centers!)

The beauty of it all lies in the supervised play area called Tot Spot. Now when I announce that we’re going grocery shopping the kids scream with delight! They love it there and all the girls who work in the play area are really good with the kids. My kids are especially fond of Mandy who plays games with them, taught them how to play dominoes and today let my almost 2 year color with markers for the first time in his life. She sat with him and taught him how to put the caps back on!

Iris, Bency and Cesar in Tot Spot

My husband and I used to utilize this service on Friday night and call it “date night.” We could stroll the aisles in peace and talk to each other without interruption. That is until my husband became a liability and began sneaking packages of Oreos and beef sticks into the cart and I would find his face pressed against the glass containing the king crab legs.

Now I do my grocery shopping during the day when he is at work. It is safer this way. I get the groceries on the list, get some quiet time to myself and can relax knowing that I don’t have to worry about one of my kids knocking down a display or getting run over by my cart! Today if someone made me the offer to amputate my arm or go grocery shopping I would definitely pick grocery shopping! Thank you Festival Foods for making my life so much better!

Close to the front parking for moms with infants. How nice is that? I love all the little details they’ve put in to make this such a great store!