Grocery Shopping Part 2

I went grocery shopping at Walmart with the boys again today. You might ask why I would do such a thing. Perhaps it was because I am not overly clever. Shopping there alone is something I clearly should not do. It may, in fact, be something I simply cannot do. Desperate times call for desperate measures, however, and I ran out of milk this morning, and Daniel was down to one soother, and I needed baby wipes. So we went.

It started out as such a pleasant trip. I got the boys and myself ready with very little trouble. I got the diaper bag stocked up. I even remembered the list this time! So far, so good.

There were no tears in the car. There were no tears getting into a cart. I was in a good mood, and not in a hurry, so we stopped at Timmy’s for a treat: a cookie for James, a French Vanilla for mommy. What a lovely day so far.

In the baby section, we found Daniel some soothers. James asked for some as well, but I explained that he didn’t need one because he is now a big boy. He was okay with that. On the way to the wipes, he saw a rattle like Daniel’s, and wanted to get Daniel a second one. I said we didn’t need a second rattle, but James was so insistent on getting the baby a toy that I caved, and got Daniel a toy that James helped pick out. How sweet! Then we got the wipes, which are always a couple aisles further into the store than I remember.

I wasn’t going to buy a big box. They don’t fit into the cart around Daniel, and I can’t carry them and Daniel up the stairs at the same time. I thought about buying the small pack, only 100 wipes, but that doesn’t last as long as you’d think, and when 100 wipes are $3, but 400 wipes are $9, it makes sense to at least buy a small box. I only saw the sensitive skin kind, but that’s fine. He’s a baby. He can be coddled a little bit.

The rest of the shopping went fairly well. I didn’t find the ice cream I wanted, but I did get James’ chicken nuggets, and James made many people smile as he told everyone we passed that we came to the store to get chicken and ice cream.

At the checkout, James tried to touch and take everything. I had to wrestle gum away from him, candy away from him, the debit machine away from him, and my wallet back from him. Still, we’d made it. I had two very heavy bags, but we were done.

It was going so well that I popped into Dollarama for a few things as well.

And then I got home. It was nearly noon by this point, so I turned on the oven, and started putting away the groceries as it preheated. I put away the yogurt, and the milk, and the veggies, and the french fries, and James’ nuggets. Then there were only small items left. Wait, wipes aren’t a small item. Where’s the box?

I didn’t leave them in the car. I only got two bags of things from Walmart, not two bags and a box. Did I pay for them, then leave them there? My good mood evaporated. As I double and tripled checked the hallway for the wipes, I imagined having to go back, find the cashier, and ask, “Do you remember me coming through earlier? Do you still have my box of wipes?” How embarrassing. And it was lunch time. James, Daniel and I were hungry. I thought maybe I’d just call, tell them I’d be there in an hour, and after we’d eaten, bundle the boys back into the car, back into a cart, and back to the store. That would be a fun phone call. “Did a dumb-dumb leave a box of wipes there? Yep, that’s me!”

I considered pretending nothing had happened. Was I really going to go through all that effort for baby wipes? 400 baby wipes. Sigh. Yes, it was worth going back. I wondered if the phone number would be on the receipt. Wait, were the wipes on the receipt? I checked. Double checked. Triple checked. Checked a couple more times. No, the wipes were not on the receipt.

At this point, I was thoroughly confused. Did I forget they were in the cart, walk out with stolen wipes, and leave them in the cart when I returned it? No, I checked to make sure the cart was empty before taking it back. Did the wipes fall off the conveyor belt, and no one noticed? Unlikely. Did the lady behind me put the divider too far ahead and end up with my wipes mixed in with her stuff? Also unlikely. Where did they go?

I remember getting the wipes. I went to the aisle, which is always further back than I think. I did the math, and picked a small box. I decided sensitive wipes were fine. I picked out wipes! Wait, I picked out wipes. Did I pick up wipes?

Oh, bother. I don’t remember actually picking the box up off of the shelf. I don’t remember putting them in the cart. Is it possible I stood there staring at wipes for a few minutes, and then just wandered off without them? I think it must be.

I guess I don’t have to call Walmart and tell them I’m coming back. That would have been embarrassing. Instead, I’ll just blog about it, and let all my friends know how dumb I am. Yeah, that’s totally less embarrassing.

Why do I have a blog again?

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Kettles

When Jon and I got married, we were given a bright green, whistling kettle. It has seen a lot of use over the years we’ve been married. I love tea. I love hot chocolate. When I’m sick, I use the kettle to make hot water with honey and lemon, and when Jon’s sick, I’ll use the kettle to make him instant chicken noodle soup. It’s a very useful part of our kitchen.

It was given to us by a friend who had thought about giving us something to use for baking, but changed his mind. You see, the three of us baked a cake once. It was back at Redeemer University College. I did most of the actual baking, and the boys were going to ice it.

The cake was not a rousing success. The oven had a hot spot, and the very center of the cake burned on top. We cut off the burned part, but then we had a small crater in our cake. Jon and our friend decided the best course of action was to fill the hole with icing. Why not? Everybody loves icing. My part done (badly done, but still done) I gave them my icing recipe, and went off to…I don’t remember any more. Study? Write a paper?

A little while later, they came asking for the recipe again. They’d forgotten. I reminded them. A little while later, they came asking again. So I told them again. Then they came asking again, and I went to investigate.

The cake hadn’t cooled. Instead of filling the whole, the icing had melted into the cake. There were three batches of icing soaked into that cake. You could see the icing rising up the sides of the cake pan, yet the top was still not iced, never mind the hole being filled.

So after that mishap, our dear friend decided to steer clear of helping us bake. However, he still wanted to get us something for the kitchen. So he got us a vibrant green, whistling kettle.

A while after we were married, we were also given an electric kettle. It has not seen much use. The green one is so much more fun. But, the electric kettle has an automatic shut off, and with two kids, and a husband sleeping through the day as he works nights, the harsh scream of the old kettle was getting to be too much. If I don’t catch the kettle immediately, it lets rip a sound I’m sure the whole building hears. I have my hands full most of the day, at usually at least one person is sleeping. So I pulled out the electric kettle.

I was having a rough  morning. I thought a relaxing cup of hot chocolate would be nice. Daniel was fussing, James was about to go down for a nap, but with the automatic kettle, I could start the water boiling, and get back to it once James was in his room, and Daniel was settled. I filled the kettle, plugged it in, and flipped the switch.

So simple. So easy. So convenient. So close to boiling before it blew a breaker. I forgot that outlet was on the same circuit as the air conditioner. You know, the green kettle might wake the dead, but it doesn’t shut my lights off.

 

Grocery Shopping

Since having a second child, grocery shopping has become a juggling act. First, there’s the timing. With a four month old, the key is to head out right after a feeding to have the maximum amount of time to get things done. He doesn’t have a steady schedule at the moment, however, so the plan is always: get dressed, get toddler changed and dressed, have clothes laid out for baby, pack the diaper bag, wait for baby to get hungry.

While waiting, the diaper bag has to be packed. Do I have diapers in two different sizes? Do I have wipes? Do I have a change pad? Do I have extra clothes for James? Extra clothes for Daniel? Extra clothes for me? After all, you never know when the baby might spit up, or who it might hit. Speaking of spit ups, do I have bibs? Burp cloths? Do I have toys to keep James busy? Do I have Daniel’s rattle? Do I have Daniel’s soother and James’ drink? Do I have James’ sunglasses? No, to that last one. I always forget the sunglasses. And then, after all that is in the bag, do I have my phone, wallet, and keys?

As soon as baby wakes up, the clock starts ticking. Get him fed, get him changed, get him dressed, toss him the car seat, and get everybody out the door!

Then we get to the store, and there’s the issue of buggies. I’ve learned where it’s easy to shop, and where it’s nearly impossible. Sobeys’ buggies have a child spot to put James, and a big enough buggy for Daniel, and still another small place to put groceries. It’s splendid. Metro has big buggies meant for two children who can sit upright. I can put James in one side, put the groceries in the other, and put Daniel in the back part of the buggy. It works well enough. Zehrs has carts big enough for me to fit James, Daniel, and a big box of diapers!

Walmart is not so kind. There are carts with a special infant seat, but I’ve never tried one. You see, those carts are never in the parking lot buggy returns, and I’m not going to try to get an excitable toddler into the store, across a busy parking lot, while carrying a car seat in the crook of my elbow. And if I have to carry Daniel inside in the car seat anyway, why would I need the buggy with an infant seat? So, back to Walmart’s regular carts. I can fit James in the child part at the front. I can fit Daniel in the buggy, but he takes up almost all of the space. I can fit small things in beside him, tucked here and there around him. So I can kinda shop, but after the groceries are bagged up, the bags don’t fit in the cart. So you see, it’s a whole big deal trying to shop now.

I mentioned to my mother on the phone last week that I was attempting a grocery trip, and she offered to come. Help with groceries? Yes, please! We’ll go to Walmart, and with two adults, we can have the kids in one cart and the groceries in a second cart. This will be possible!

I got everyone ready. I had grandma on standby for the next feeding. I got the bag packed. I got the baby fed, grandma called, the kids in the car, grandma picked up, the kids in one cart, and a second cart ready to go for groceries! This is how I conquer grocery shopping with children!

I forgot the list.

The Parable of the Sower

There is a parable in the Bible that I’ve heard many times. It’s the parable in which a man sows seeds. Some seeds fall on the path and are eaten by birds. Some fall on rocky soil, grow up quickly but with shallow roots, and wither just as quickly as they grew. Some seeds start growing, but are choked by thorns. Some seed lands on good soil and produces an astounding crop. The seed is the word of God. The soil is each person’s heart.

Usually when this parable is discussed, the kinds of soil are gone over in great detail, and people are asked to consider what kind of soil they are. Thorny soil, too full of other concerns to trust in God and live for Him? Rocky soil, that accepts God’s word at first, but doesn’t have room to grow in a deeper relationship with Him?

Other times, we’re encouraged to keep sharing our faith, as good soil is out there somewhere. Even if we share our faith and it’s not well received, keep sharing with others. This is also a good message.

I feel like there’s another part to this that is less often discussed. We’re asked to examine ourselves, and encouraged to tell others about Jesus, but I think it’s not often enough that God’s part in the story is examined. After all, God is the only one able to change the soil conditions.

We’re told that we tell others about God, but His Spirit is the one who enables a person to believe. I think that it’s important to remember that while our hearts may be full of the thorns of other concerns, God can help us find the peace to hear Him. We may be rocky soil and not develop a deep relationship with God, but God can call us back to Himself to try again. We may have others tell us God isn’t real, or important, and thus have the seeds of faith stolen by birds, but God can resow that ground when we’re more ready to listen. God can make any heart into a willing and believing heart.

We can try to keep our hearts open to God, and we can keep telling others about God, but it’s God who makes the seed grow.

Where’s The Beef?

We got burgers for dinner again. Last time was an unhappy experience, so we picked a different restaurant. We went to Wendy’s, where we normally have a wonderful experience. The staff is friendly, our order is almost always perfect, and the service is fast. Today was the exception.

In their defense, 2/3 orders were fine. James’ burger was perfect. Just pickles. Jon’s was close. They remembered to leave off the tomato, but they forgot the extra pickles, lettuce, and onion. Since extra veggies come at no extra cost, not getting them is hardly cause for complaint.

Then we got to my burger. It was supposed to be no bun, no cheese, no mayo. It was substantially taller than usual. It took me a second to realize I’d gotten Jon’s extra veggies. That was fine. I can eat a big pile of lettuce. But then I saw they had put cheese on my order. I don’t like cheese on my burger because the hot beef patty will melt it to goo, and with no bun to sop up goo, the burger ends up a mess.

Oddly enough, the cheese was not melted. It was still a pristine, square-shaped, cold slice of cheese. That’s because it was not touching a hot beef patty. There was no beef patty. My burger had no burger. It was just a big pile of veggies with a piece of cheese stuck in the middle.

I checked about three times to make sure I hadn’t just missed the burger. There was a lot of lettuce to search through. Then I told Jon, as I started laughing. How does that happen?

Jon pointed at the door, and said, “Take it back! Take it back!”

I got in the car, drove back out to Wendy’s, and tried to keep from laughing out loud as I explained my problem to the employee at the front counter (who had originally taken the order). She was confused, went back to the till to see what she’d rung in, then confirmed that I’d brought my burger back because there was no burger on it.

“How does that even happen?” she asked.

Another employee came out from the back to see what was happening.  She had the same reaction, and as she disappeared into the back she called to the first employee, “You should tell the manager about this, because that’s really weird!”

The first employee apologized for the mistake, then disappeared into the back, and I heard various exclamations of, “How? That’s weird! What happened?!?” A minute later I was given a new burger with a second round of apologies.

I checked this burger before I left, and as I walked back to my car, the manager leaned out the drive-thru window and asked if I’d like a free large Frosty for my trouble. I accepted. She apologized for the …ahem… “veggie burger” I’d been given. At least we could laugh about it.

Normally I don’t like taking things back, but this time I did. Sometimes you can live with a mistake, but sometimes you have to walk back into a Wendy’s and ask, “Where’ the beef?”

 

Lunch

We got take-out for lunch. It proved to be a mistake.

I took the baby to go get lunch with me, and left Jon and James at home. The employees at this particular  place (which shall remain nameless) know us fairly well, and came over to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the baby. We caught up a bit while they got the food ready. When the corner on one bag of food ripped, it was promptly double-bagged, and when I tried to pick up the baby, the bags of food and the tray of drinks all with just two hands, one employee insisted on taking the drinks out to my car for me. So far, so good, right?

Then we get home and start unpacking the food. We pulled out James’ burger. It was supposed to be just pickles. There were no pickles on that burger. The poor kid got no pickles, and even worse, the only thing on the burger was ketchup. Jon tried to wipe off the sauce as best as he could, as James sat there sadly chanting, “Me no like ‘chup.” I considered going back. Was that enough to justify going back?

Then I opened my burger. It correctly came without a bun, but I had asked for no mayo, and there, on top of the lettuce, was a big ol’ glob of mayo. With no bun, there’s nothing to suck up the mayo. It’s just a sloppy, greasy mess. I again considered going back. Two out of three meals were wrong.

I checked the receipt. The receipt said ‘only pickles’ for James’ burger, and ‘no mayo’ on mine. I had ordered it correctly. It had been rung in correctly. Why, oh why, was it such a mess? Jon asked if I wanted to take back the burgers, as I scraped mayo-slathered lettuce off of my burger, and James refused to eat his burger – or the half of his bun that had ketchup soaked into it.

I did want to return it. I really did. But I didn’t. As bad as eating that burger was, it was preferable to getting the food and receipt back together, driving back to the restaurant, waiting in line, and then being the customer that says, “I asked for no mayo and I asked for no ketchup, and this is slathered in gross stuff.”

It’s one thing to go back up for a kid’s order when you’re still in the restaurant. I could walk ten feet up to a counter and say, “Can I get a different bun, and some pickles for my kid? He’s only two, and he’s a little picky.” I have a harder time saying, “I was so upset at having mayo on my burger that I drove all the way back here to get you to remake the whole burger, because there’s mayo everywhere, and though I’m an adult, I refuse to deal with my own problems.”

I work in customer service. I cringe when I see a customer coming back with a product, because it’s awkward, they’re often angry, and they usually don’t seem to realize that yes, out of the hundreds of orders that are made a day, a few will be mistakes just because humans aren’t perfect. Still, if a customer brought back an order that was 2/3 wrong, I would not think badly of them for returning it. I would feel badly that their lunch was that messed up.

So why didn’t I return the food? Because I’d have to talk to the employees on front counter, and they weren’t the ones that made the mistakes. They were nice. They rang in the order correctly, double-bagged my order, and carried the drinks to my car. I don’t want to go cause a fuss for the people who did everything right.

And then there’s the wait. I’d be in line, rehearsing my order, feeling more and more awkward as my speech went from “You made it wrong and I’d like this remade please,” to “I’m so sorry I came back for this. I have pickles at home. And I could have given James bread. I’ll just go buy some lettuce, and fix it myself.”

Even if I’d managed to tell them I wanted my order fixed, then I’d have to wait awkwardly while they tried not to make eye contact with ‘the complainer’ as the people in the back of the restaurant remade my meal. It was after the lunch rush. There would be nothing to do. There would just be employees looking desperately for anything to wipe down or move slightly to keep from talking to me, and me looking at the menu board as if deeply fascinated by their nugget prices so that I didn’t have to look at them. Because, you know, if I stare at them, it looks like I’m just watching for new mistakes to complain about.

After talking it over, we keep our food, made the best of it, and agreed never to go there again. It’s just so much easier to cut out an entire restaurant from our lives than it is to deal with so much potential for socially awkward interactions, and unwanted condiments. It’s just so, so much easier to avoid the problem. As long as no other restaurants ever make mistakes, this will work out perfectly.

Faith

I was reading part of the crucifixion story the other morning. I’ve read it many times over the years. This time, something occurred to me that never had before. I know the story, and have heard many sermons about it, but my attention has always been on the ‘main characters’. I tend to focus on the last words of Jesus, on the betrayal of Judas, on the scattering of the disciples, on the three denials of Peter.

There is a ‘background character’ I don’t often think much about. Jesus was crucified with two criminals. One mocks him, saying, “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!” The other criminal has a change of heart. Instead of lashing out the person everyone else is mocking, he says to the first criminal, “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:39-42 HCSB)

I know I’ve heard sermons involving this second criminal. They usually talk about how it’s never too late to repent of sins and ask Jesus for salvation. That’s a good message. It’s one a lot of people need to hear. It’s never too late to turn to God. But that’s not what struck me this read through.

This read through I was struck by the faith it took to turn to Jesus in that situation. I don’t know anything about that man’s life, other than he was given a death sentence, and asked Jesus for help at the last minute. But look at the faith it took to ask. Here was a man who was less than a day away from death, asking for help from someone who was hanging on the cross next to him, also less than a day away from death.

I don’t know what this man’s expectations were, but everyone around them was mocking Jesus, who had claimed to be God, who had claimed a kingdom was coming, but was now dying. This man didn’t mock Jesus. Instead, he told the other criminal to have some respect, stood up for Jesus’ innocence, and asked for Jesus’ help. Even though it didn’t look like there would be a last minute miracle, he put his faith in Jesus. Even though they would both soon be dead, the second criminal still expected Jesus to fulfill his prophecies about a coming kingdom.

Jesus had defied death before. He has resurrected others. Maybe the second criminal had seen one of these miracles, or maybe he’d heard about them. Maybe he did expect to be rescued from the cross by a word from Jesus, or by an angel. Maybe he had figured out Jesus could vouch for him in heaven. Whatever he thought was going to happen, it took some amazing faith to look past the guaranteed death they both faced, believe Jesus was not wrong about a coming kingdom, and ask for grace he didn’t deserve with no time left to try and earn it. I don’t know if the second criminal understood what Jesus was saying about the kingdom to come, but he understood grace, and faith.