Friday, March 2, 2012

Stacking Cups and Buying Milk

I hate grocery shopping.

There! I said it!

It is not as bad as it used to be.
Like, there was the time when The Monkey was little, and I had dragged all the kids to the store. We were almost done when we realized The Monkey had grabbed a bunch of stuff and had been teething on it all. We ate hot dogs (and buns) with teeth marks on them for the next week....

Or the time when Romeo was a baby. The Young Adult and Cookie Boy were small and seated in the toddler seats at the front of my ginormous cart. They were fighting and irritating each other the whole trip. I was so busy refereeing them, I did not notice Romeo, seated behind his brothers in the cart itself. He had been quietly, but busily, chucking items out of the cart, throughout the store.We got to play "Treasure Hunt"!

No, it is not like that, anymore. The three older boys are all big now, and do not fight (much) in the store. The Monkey is still a pain-in-the-you-know-where, BUT, I now own two babysitters! The Young Adult and Cookie Boy! It has revolutionized my life, I tell you! Cookie Boy is a Red Cross certified sitter, and so good with The Monkey. They are all glad to stay home and not hit the grocery store with me, when possible.

So, earlier this week, the boys all prepared to stay home, and I got my act together and went to the grocery store.

I have decided - I want a sign I can hang from the side of my cart. It will say,

"Warning: full cart! Shopping to feed 5 men!".

 Then, maybe people won't stare so much.

I love the grocery store near my house. It is close, usually well-stocked, and I know where everything is. But shopping during a weekday morning is a little different than other times I shop. It is mainly women shopping, and most of them are apparently not trying to feed an army on a tight budget.

There were two types of shoppers there that day: Couponers and Shopper-Lites.

1) Couponers = make me feel guilty!

I used to coupon. I saved gobs of money. BUT, it was like a full-time job. It took hours each week clipping coupons, finding deals, and driving to different stores to get the items. We were able to spend a lot less on groceries, but it cost a lot of time. Plus, we had to organize our meals around whatever I was purchasing.

So, I see these women now, flipping through their coupons, and I just feel like a total loser. I know I could be saving money, but I can never find the time to coupon anymore. The family has promised to help, but they never do. I am constantly saving coupons in my coupon drawer, and then throwing them away as they expire.

Nothin' like a little (extra) guilt with my shopping!

2) Shopper-Lites
These are the women who are pushing around their small-sized carts. They are wearing their exercise clothes (to let you know they just came from the gym), their hair is in a jaunty-but-styled ponytail, and their makeup is subtlety-but carefully applied. They shop while they talk on their phones (to let you know they DO have a social life). Some do this on their own, and some do this while ignoring the small child they brought along with them, who is crying or whining or pleading to go potty.

They push their mini-carts, and pause only in the fresh-fruits-and vegetables section, or the health-food section, to carefully peruse the nutritional value of an item before they place it in their cart.
They hold carefully crafted lists of nutritional food items and their carts are the ones with green leafy things waving around, under which reside fresh fruit and whole wheat pasta.

They look at me with disdain, as I fly by with junk cereal stuffed into the top of the massive mound of groceries already in the cart. I check the list in my hand, written on scrap paper,  in my "hurried mom" style of writing. I pause, interpreting the scribble that looks like "tiklas" to actually mean "tortillas", and with a sign, I turn my monster cart around, food precariously balanced on top sliding threateningly, muttering angrily to myself because I realize that I have to go all the way back across the store for this item.

As I slowly execute a 180, the bread from the discount, day-old section free-falls from the top of the cart, slides across the floor, and lands at the feet of a Shopper-Lite. I smile as I retrieve the bread, trying to project the image that I LOVE being chubby, badly dressed, and pushing a cart that looks like it is bound for a summer camp program around. I do not mind at all bending down to pick up the d#$% bread again. I am not at all embarrassed to be trying to find a place where the aforementioned bread can safely reside. (and where the #$%$ are the tortillas going to fit when I get back to them? I guess I will carry them in my mouth or something! Why, oh why, did I not bring ONE boy with me. Romeo could have driven a second cart!)

Yes, I do have fresh fruits and veggies in my cart....somewhere.....There is even soy milk AND whole-wheat pasta AND TOFU, for goodness' sake! Under the Pop Tarts, Fruit Loops, and boxes of heavily processed crackers. (okay, okay - the tofu is for this...)

It is not ideal, and I know some of my readers will cringe and try to tell me that eating healthily is actually cheaper in the long run than junk. And, to a point, I agree. But teenage boys take a LOT of food. And my boys love fruit and veg, which is great. But a bag of grapes to last my kids about two days costs $6 - ON SALE!  A box of Austin crackers is $1.50. Do you know how quickly my boys can go through cereal?

So, my cart is a balance of health items and junk.

"Just like Fruit Loops, only generic! And in a huge, monster sized bag!"

But it is always, ALWAYS full. Almost bursting. Even the workers were getting annoyed with me.
"Excuse me, ma'am, your bread fell off. Again." They watch as I retrieve it for the millionth time.

Fine. Whatever.

. The huge, giant cart is stuffed full of food that I know will only last us for a week or week-and-a-half, if I can really stretch it. I go to pay, and try not to pass out, feeling like it is money flying out the window.

That evening we sit down to a meal of pasta (whole wheat!) with homemade, made-from-scratch cheese and tomato sauce, which they all complemented, and meatballs from the freezer section (which they raved on and on about. Why do I even bother to "cook"!).

Well, at least they eat!


I have been trying to sit down for days to write a blog entry, without success! I cannot tell you how many days this has taken to do this - I am embarrassed!

So, I have mentioned before my kids tend towards the "alternative sports" route. Romeo plays soccer:

but The Young Adult? Well...

Not your traditional sport!

and Cookie Boy? Well, Cookie Boy often gets left out. Most of the money I make (small paychecks, for which I am grateful, bu they do not go far), goes for Highland Dance. Romeo's soccer does not cost a whole lot. But it leaves nothing left for Cookie Boy. Our goal this year is archery. We finally have a place near us. For the moment, I have neither the $ nor the time (beginner lessons are Wednesday nights, and we already have soccer, youth group and choir). Hopefully this summer....

Anyhow, Cookie Boy has also been into the sport of Speed Stacking or Sport Stacking. He is my shy child. His first competition was a year-and-a-half ago, with 500 other kids. I was so proud of my guy for overcoming his natural reticence and getting out there and doing it.
The only pic I could find on Cookie Boy (right). Bad Momma!

We could not attend a competition last year, due to schedule conflicts. But Fall 2011, I was able to teach a Speed Stacking class at our homeschool coop. It was tons of fun! Better still, I discovered a competition was coming relatively close to us on Feb 25, 2012. So, I signed Romeo and Cookie Boy up.

We went this past Saturday, along with a friend and fellow Speed Stacking student, Mad Max. Mad Max totally killed it in class, so I had lots of hope for him! Romeo competed in the 9-year-old division. Cookie Boy and Mad Max went into the 12-year-old division, the oldest age at this particular competition.
Results, please....
Cookie Boy placed 2nd in the two individual events for 12 year olds, the 3-6-3 and the Cycle.
Mad Max placed 1st in both events in the 12-year-olds, plus he won 2nd overall for the Cycle and 3rd overall for the 3-6-3!
I was so proud of them!
Mad Max and his awesome trophies on the left, Cookie Boy on the right

And Romeo....

Well, it turns out that the 9-year-old division was the toughest of all. Them buggers are FAST! Romeo did not place, and felt a little bad compared to the other two, but I was so proud of him. It was his first time and he was sooooo nervous!

Mad Max's time for the 3-6-3 - 4.11 seconds
In the 9-year-old division, the third place time was 4.0 seconds.

Yeah, they were fast! And apparently, you lose speed over the next few years!

Speedy Speed Stackers!

So, that about wraps up this extra-long edition of Deep in the Heart! Thanks for reading!


Patty said...

First, the stacking cup trophies? Awesome and creative!!

Grocery shopping? David and the girls have been going for me for so long. Last week, I went with David to test my endurance. (The incicion area can get sore once in awhile.) This week, I may go without David (but with one of the big girls to help.)

I do remember seeing the "lite" shoppers. LOL Very funny!

Is there a budget shopper...that would be me :)

Melissa said...

Have you tried it for stretching the food budget