I went to the grocery store yesterday and like a good little girl, I brought in my reusable grocery bags. I should have realized the checkout process was going to be difficult when I got into an empty line and the clerk took about 5 minutes to stop chatting with her coworkers and actually look at me.
Then I started hearing her mumble under her breath, "I ain't using those." Eventually, she got around to addressing me directly and said, "There's stuff on those bags. I ain't touching them." The stuff was mostly grass from their being set down in the front yard, but also a bit of dog hair. I said as much and she replied, "No, I ain't using them. That might be cat hair." "But I don't have a cat!" "I ain't touchin' them." These are bags that I bought at this store and which they encourage the use of.
"Okay, can you ring up the groceries? I'll bag them." It's my firm opinion that although she might have had a cat allergy the main concern was not with any pet dander, but with the fact that the reusable bags do not fit on the bag holder and are therefore somewhat harder to bag. She started ringing up my groceries and sticking them in plastic bags.
I again said I'd bag them. She dropped my nectarines on the floor and said, "You wanna go get yerself some new ones?" No offer to get them for me or call someone in the produce department to exchange them. Pregnant ladies love to waddle across to the other side of the store to replace their produce. I opted not to. Miss Thang the Checkout Lady continued to scan my groceries so fast that I couldn't keep up with the bagging, which irritated her.
Eventually I made it out of the store, silently fuming over the clerk, who is one of the few I've seen there who are not helpful or friendly. I suppose I could have complained to the manager, although complaining in person (as opposed to in complaining to the whole world via a blog post) is not generally in my nature. Looking back though, one can see the difference between those who go far in life and those who do not.
First, customers are actually the reason one is employed -- not coworkers and friends. I might be at your mercy when I stand in line, but just because I wait patiently does not mean ignoring the customer is a good idea.
Second, politeness wins friends; attitude does not. With a flick of her head and a snippy tone, declaring what she won't do, made me angry. Had a clerk said, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I'm really allergic to pets and those bags look like they have pet hair on them. Would you mind my not touching them?" who would have been upset? No one. I'd be glad to accommodate the problem and commiserate at the same time.
Third, if you make a mistake -- in this instance, dropping my fruit on the floor, take the time to rectify the error. Offering to let the customer fix the problem is not the same thing.
Fourth, when someone has already gone out of their way to accommodate you -- bagging groceries that are your job to bag, not complaining that you dropped her groceries on the floor and waiting patiently for you to finish conversations with your buddies -- try not to get impatient when that person moves a little more slowly than you do.
I suppose looking back, one can also see that I'm a bit of a pushover. I might have been treated better by this individual had I not been polite, however in general the principle holds. Politeness and kindness will help you along in the world. Attitude and a sense that the world owes you something will not. In my neighborhood, I suspect a lot of people would really like to have a grocery store job like that and I won't be surprised if they find someone else soon. As for me, I'll wait in a longer line to get a different clerk, take deep breaths and smile politely. As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Of all the miserable aches and pains of late pregnancy, I think the worst of all is the insomnia I always develop. The night before last, I slept from 10:30 to 1 and from 5:30 to 8:00. That was definitely not enough sleep. Last night I fell asleep at 8, but woke at 9:30 and didn't fall back to sleep until 1. At that point I actually slept until 6:30 or so.
I'm definitely feeling rather miserable, sorry for myself and cranky. It's not a good thing. I don't particularly like being around me at the moment and I'm just trying not to take it out on everyone else.
I don't eat ice cream all that often, but I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone that a woman who is 9 months pregnant in the summer might want to indulge in a little of the frozen creamy goodness of ice cream now and then. I have an ice cream maker and could make my own ice cream at home, but I've noticed that the price of the ingredients and the time involved in making a custard and all, often makes it worth it just to buy a box of ice cream at the store already made for me.
Or it would be worth it if ice cream weren't apparently difficult to buy these days. I wanted vanilla ice cream. We used to like Breyers the best, but their recipe seems to have changed in the last few years and although it's still good, it isn't as good as it used to be. I thought maybe I'd try something new. I looked at the Edy's selection. Those looked fine, until I noticed that every carton of vanilla was reduced fat and sugar-free. Then I looked at the Blue Bunny -- same thing. The store brand proclaimed "made with artificial flavoring and a bunch of other junk" on the front of the box (well, it might not have been phrased quite that way). The Blue Bonnet looked good, but twice as expensive as everything else. So I went back to Breyers. Reached into the freezer, pulled out the old vanilla stand-by and saw that it too was reduced fat and sugar. Sigh. Buried behind a few of those, I finally found the real stuff.
Searching for real, full fledged-made-with-cream,-sugar-and-vanilla, ice cream should not be this difficult. Making ice cream a special, occasional treat means that one can have the real foods, the real stuff, not some reduced fat, fake sugar stuff with artificial flavors and colors, but judging by the lack of ice cream made with even mostly real foods, apparently most people out there disagree.
I should take this opportunity to rail against a culture so perverse that it sacrifices real food for the sake of weight loss, instead of just eating less. But what good would that do? Instead, I think I'll drag out the ice cream maker, buy some whipping cream, and strike a blow for real food.
I haven't done a new recipe in a while, but this one turned out well and when added to a fruit smoothie makes for a really good and healthy breakfast.
1 pound zucchini, yellow squash and carrot, grated (use a food processor to make the work go quickly) 1 1/2 cups of sugar 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 2 large eggs 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt zest of one lemon 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon allspice 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
Squeeze grated vegetables between layers of clean dish towels or paper towels to get out excess moisture. Whisk together sugar, butter, eggs, yogurt, lemon zest and lemon juice.
In another bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Gently fold the vegetables and yogurt mixture into the flour until just combined.
Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the surface. Bake about 55 to 60 minutes. Cool and serve.
My children were very dubious that they would like any sweet substance that contains vegetables, but so far they have been pretty pleased with and surprised by the results.
I learned a lesson yesterday. I'm getting older. I'm very enormously pregnant (maybe I'll show you a picture, but maybe I won't). All those old joints are pretty wobbly at this point. Lesson learned? Maybe mowing the yard with your lovely new Scotts Reel Mower in the ninth month of pregnancy isn't such a good idea. I had no intention of mowing the whole yard and I felt totally fine while pushing the mower around the yard, but I definitely felt it later that night and I haven't recovered yet. I'm moving very, very slowly today.
I guess walking the baby out is not the way to go.
When I only had one child and one arriving soon, it seemed like a brilliant idea to get a little something special for the older child from the new baby. We got my oldest a metal Tonka dump truck from his new sister and the toy was definitely a winner. We still have it. It still gets played with and it is still memorable to the oldest as the present from his sister.
When the next new baby came along, I didn't do nearly so well. I got my son some drawing stuff (now all long since used up) and my daughter a baby doll that didn't last for some reason that I can't now remember. When the littlest arrived, he brought a book and a puzzle for his brother and nice rag dolls for his sisters. Those are all still around and being played with and used.
This time I have multiple dilemmas. First, it feels like we already have ever toy known to man and I want to get rid of most of them. Second, I'm just at a loss for what the older two really need or would especially enjoy that isn't too pricey. I have found presents for the youngest two. Perhaps not things that will last forever, but still things I know they will enjoy -- a nice baby doll for the three year old, who loves dolls of all kinds, and a big bucket of sand toys for the 1 1/2 year old who still even in the hottest weather would spend all day, every day out in the sand pile under the tree.
For the older two though -- I need help. I know the oldest would love Legos, but we aren't exactly hurting for Legos. He'd love a good book, and although we certainly have plenty of those around too, I don't know what he would especially enjoy. He reads so much and so fast that I would want to find something lasting that he would enjoy again and again.
With the five year old, a lot of the toys marketed to girls her age involve make-up or inappropriately dressed dolls that I will not be getting for her. She's starting to read a lot, but again -- what would be a real keeper of a book that she would enjoy now and later? Or what toy would she love for a long time?
The favorite man in my life puts up with a lot, including my completely forgetting Father's Day, until after the priest mentioned it in Mass. Whispered orders to the three bigger kids produced cards for their father, but it isn't quite like planning ahead to actually prepare something to say, "We love you and appreciate all you do."
Still we do appreciate him, and although he might not have gotten any special presents on Father's Day, he does get the rock star treatment when he comes home from work, with children rushing from all parts of the house yelling his name and giving him hugs. His children love him well.
As do I. I also appreciate those times when he, as the father, lays down the law. Laws in our house are very, very similar to these -- right down to not putting your foot on the bread. The work of a dad is never over without many lamentations and adjudications.
If only the wee one would choose to cooperate, I'd be happy to make my darling husband a father for the fifth time around any time.
Although a few weeks ago, my doctor informed me that I'd counted a whole extra week than I had gained, I think I am almost at 37 weeks now. I'm not getting to any of the typical nesting stuff (oh, I suppose I could clean the house, but I'm talking about the fun stuff like pulling out the baby clothes and decorating a nursery that I won't really use much). I don't know where the baby clothes are and the upstairs isn't finished enough to set up a nursery. A while back I made up list of things I need to do, so let's check in and see what's been done, it will make my non-nesting self feel better.
Figure out a short list of names for boys and girls (this was easier when I hadn't already used all my favorites) My mom sent a list of her suggestions, which helps me get started, but I still haven't done much list-making on my own.
Decide whether I'll let my husband keep St. John on the list this time around.He can keep it on the list. I could put Hezekiah on the list, but it doesn't mean I'll use it.
Figure out who is going to be watching the children when I go to the hospital to have the baby.I've lined up a few neighbors to come over if we have to rush to the hospital and a lady from church volunteered to spend the night.
If it won't be someone coming to our house (it will probably be my SIL about an hour from here), I must pack suitcases for the kids so they can have clothes and brush their teeth.The lady from church will be coming to us, so I don't need to pack for the kidlets.
Pack a suitcase for the hospital. Not done. Since I don't seem to go early, I think I'm just dawdling because I can.
Buy snacks for my husband to eat in the hospital so he won't be cranky.I got him some trail mix and some sunflower seeds.
Turn in grades for the kids and close out our homeschooling year. Grades are due on Monday. I've had the papers sitting around for a week. I have no excuse not to have done this one.
Measure backseat of the minivan and figure out if we can fit three carseats back there.Done! There aren't a lot of choices for skinny carseats out there, but we found one brand that works.
If we can't -- panic, cry and worry about the fact bigger automobiles, like money, don't grow on trees.We found ones that work, though some tears ensued at the thought of spending that much money on new carseats when we already have nice ones. My parents bought two of them for us though. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Cook and bake more stuff for the freezer, so that we'll have something to eat after this child arrives.Getting there. I've trying to make one freezable thing each week. Right now I have a meatloaf, a pot pie, Chinese dumplings, vegetable soup and a couple of frozen pizzas that were on sale. I plan to put the kids to work making pesto this weekend.
Wish I had more recipes that froze well. I need to try the Mulligatawny soup recommended by Dr. Weevil.
Encourage my husband (and my father while he is here visiting) to finish up some necessary projects upstairs so that the big kids will not all be sleeping in the family room and the 19 month old can move out of my closet before the new little one arrives. Partly done. My father had to go home eventually, but before he left, he and Justin built the railing around the upper landing and stairs. Justin started working on attic access doors in the kneewalls and plans to continue that this weekend, I think.
Try to find my infant carseat. It was hiding in plain sight.
Figure out whether the infant carseat has outlived its shelf-life, since it is coming up on six years old.It will have to do.
Do about a million other things that haven't even crossed my mind yet. Other things that need doing still haven't crossed my mind (or what's left of it.)
I suppose a few things do cross the mind -- I probably should find at least enough baby clothes so that the kidlet can come home from the hospital in something other than a diaper and I should probably get out the port-a-crib with the bassinet attachment. But the latter can definitely wait until the wee bairn arrives, if necessary. What else does one do to get ready for a baby? I've forgotten.
I'm not a particularly musical person. I like music, I enjoy singing although I doubt I carry a tune all that well, and I think I like good music, but I'm still not particularly musical. My husband is much more so. He can sort of sight read music and can definitely carry a tune. He used to lead singing at church and is now trying to start a schola.
The other day when I picked the kids up from Totus Tuus, my five year old piped up with. "Mom, today we sang this song that Mary supposedly sang, but I don't think she would have sung it to this tune!" She hummed a very campy, modern tune. "I didn't like it. I think they should use better music." The eight year old chimed in, "Neither did I. I'm not sure it was really appropriate. "
My children definitely seem to take after their father, much more musically attuned than I. But it is also the case that children are adults in training with their own opinions and tastes. To choose particular music and tunes to appeal to the youth, gives the youth little credit.
Yesterday was a rough day. It started off well enough and there were good points along the way, but it was still trying. The plumbing inspector came and we passed our final plumbing inspection. I took the little two for ice cream at a local place near our house, while the older two were off at their church program.
It went downhill after that. I wanted a nap and didn't get one. I went to the doctor for a check-up and was first greeted by the news that thanks to our fairly crummy insurance coverage I have a much, much larger payment to make to the doctor before I can deliver the baby, then I hit a higher number on the scales than I have ever seen before. The baby seems to be fine though.
After my doctor's visit, I stopped by the grocery store only to discover whilst checking out that I couldn't find my wallet. It wasn't in the car. It wasn't at home. I spent a bit of time making phone calls and it was finally discovered under the table at the ice cream parlor. Thank goodness no one had stolen anything from it.
I was so worn out after everything, that I fell asleep as soon as the kids were in bed, but sleep doesn't come comfortably at this point and I didn't wake too rested either.
Today has been a long day of its own, but fortunately without yesterday's drama, fortunately tomorrow is another day.
Today my oldest two are off for their first day of an all week children program at church. They are thrilled to be going off to classes and hanging out with all the other kids. I'm feeling what it's like to have to get everyone going early in the morning and making lunches every day.
My biggest complaint though is how hard it seems in some ways to have only the two little kids at home. Almost every day, I get stopped somewhere when we're out, by people commenting on the size of my family. Some of them count the kids out loud and exclaim over the size of my belly. Some think it is great. Some tell me they couldn't possibly imagine that many kids or couldn't handle them all. One, the other day, said, "You have, like, a whole herd of kids, doncha?"
I always try to answer the comments simply and politely. Being snippy doesn't tend to win friends or influence people. But now as I spend the day chasing an 19 month old and distracting a three year old all by myself, I've noticed, not that it's so much easier with just two, but that it's actually so much harder.
I hadn't really noticed how much my older two help out. They unbuckle carseats, open doors, think of games to play and even read stories to their younger siblings. Certainly, they also pick fights, boss everyone around and their games often involve large amounts of mess, but I am feeling their absence more than I noticed their presence.
Since I homeschool, my children are always with me. I generally love having them around, but I don't really notice, because that's just how things are. This little break from the two "big" kids, makes me appreciate them all the more. I'll be glad to go pick them up this afternoon and sorry to drop them off in the morning tomorrow. Not just because they'll help me manage to two wild ones, though that part is awfully nice, but because suddenly my life is quiet in a way -- I don't hear about what they are reading, thinking, or building out of Legos.
My little ones are growing up to be interesting people and they are a blessing to me. A blessing I didn't know how much I'd miss even for a few short hours every day.
A while ago, my friend Meredith was talking about good breakfasts for those mornings when it is too hot to cook anything. Sometimes it does just feel way too hot to contemplate eating hot food. Of course, there is always cereal with cold milk, but that gets boring really quickly.