Grocery Store Bingo

Ah, the grocery store. We all have to go there at some point. Too many mystery spills and not enough cashiers, ever-present whining children and never-present samples of ice cream. It can be a chore, a pain. I typically wait to do my grocery shopping until after midnight on a Tuesday night. Nothing magical happens then, it’s just when the kids are in bed and the stocker’s stereos are turned up nice and loud. It’s like clubbing for moms who showed up in minivans with their reusable grocery bags. Stayin’ out late, bumpin’ those jams, breakin’ a sweat and the overwhelming feeling of regret at the end – usually once I see the total. Yeah, totally like clubbing.

As evidenced by my very first blog post, I put a lot of thought into grocery shopping. Here is my contribution to your next trip: Grocery store BINGO. Print it. Do it. Reward yourself. If you get a BINGO (5 across, postage stamp, or blackout, your choice), buy some canned goods to donate. You’ll feel extra great about your trip! This BINGO sheet is specific to moms, but feel free to adjust as it meets your needs.

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Okay, okay. And since I actually want to be helpful, here’s something for the kids – Kiddo Bingo. There are 3 different sheets, so they can play against each other. If you have more than 3 kids, I’m sincerely sorry. Maybe have one help with the list, or form teams! The images are in no way representative of my grocery list and I’m definitely not endorsing brands or suggesting you buy what’s shown, they’re just things that the littles are likely to see. And if they find a veteran’s hat, encourage them to thank the vet for their service, shake hands, and smile! The winner gets to help put items on the belt at the cash register, pick something special to donate to the local food bank, or pick what you’ll make for dinner that night!

Happy shopping!

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D.I…. Why?!

I consider myself a crafty-ish person. I love to create and customize and transform. Plain black phone case? Blasphemy! A simple vase? It cannot be! My happy places are thrift stores and Hobby Lobby, my drugs of choice are glue guns and spray paint. One of my biggest character flaws is admiring something, turning over the price tag and scoffing, “Psh, I could make that myself.” I’m no Pinterest-level crafter, but I’m easily excited and often obsessive, so the thrill of a project gets me hooked, leaves me needing to scratch the itch. However, another character flaw of mine is overestimating my abilities, underestimating the cost, and just not even trying to estimate the time it would take to complete a project. My modus operandi often looks like this:

Step 1: Like something. Anything. It could be a wreath at Hobby Lobby, a craft from Pinterest, or a completely original idea. Either way, the seed is planted.

Step 2: Lie awake at night and allow all thoughts to be consumed by step 1. Food has no taste, birds have no song. There is only the empty hole inside me (or the blank wall in my house) which may only be filled by the completion of the project.

Step 3: Drop major hints to my understanding, patient, and forgiving husband. These hints include, but are not limited to: texts, Facebook messages, re-directing every conversation back to the potential project, and lying in the floor moaning.

Step 4: Curse the man who shot down the 24-hour craft store idea at 4am while simultaneously fantasizing about how much more improved my life would be if I could just jump into the project.

Step 5: Obtain the all-clear and run to Hobby Lobby. It’s go time.

Step 6: Spend 8 times the cost of the premade item that inspired the project on supplies alone.

Step 7: Come home and set down the Hobby Lobby bags.

Step 8: Forget about the project.

Step 9: Move the Hobby Lobby bags full of project supplies to the closet, stacking them on top of the other piles of Hobby Lobby bags full of project supplies. Note that 75% of the project supplies in these newest bags could have been found in the mound beneath, the Craft Idea Graveyard.

Step 10: Start all over at Step 1.

Okay, I don’t ALWAYS fall through. I really have completed several projects. Those have gone like this:

Step 1: Jump in with no measurements, plan of attack, or time estimate.

Step 2: Hope for the best.

Most of my ideas are really just creative holes to throw money into. But this knowledge – and the mountain of unused craft supplies – does nothing to deter me when an idea takes hold. I need a seasonal centerpiece and I need it NOW. So when I found a $5 side table and repainted it a few months ago, my husband was shocked impressed and I was hooked. The high was too great and too short. I needed MORE. I looked around my home for an opportunity to take on an entirely too-big project that exceeded my experience and abilities, and my eyes settled on the dining set.

It was more than 10 years old, and had served us well. It was small and round, had a glass top that was easy to clean and hard to stain or scratch, and 4 chairs (which had, of course, been spray-painted by me many years ago). However, we are now a family of 5, with the youngest just about out of her high chair, and there was no room for a 5th chair at our tiny, trusty table.

I began the hunt.

Many, many late nights on Craigslist and countless unanswered emails later, I found a steal of a deal on the perfect table… but it came with 4 chairs. Me being me, I set back out, and months later found 6 chairs… as part of a set. We now had 3 dining sets in our home. THREE. 14 chairs.  I combined the table from the first “new” set and the chairs from the second… but there was a big problem. The chairs looked like they came from a church office circa 1992.

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This was it. My moment. My chance to tackle a big project with big results, to scratch the itch, to create and transform and emerge from a project covered in paint and glory. The chairs were incredibly detailed, but those features were lost in the darkness of the wood, so I decided to paint them. This is where you find out how basic I am: I painted them white. Well, technically, I primed them white. Twice. THEN painted them white. THREE times. I also ran out of primer. Twice. And ran out of paint. TWICE. Always one to overestimate my abilities and underestimate supplies, it took me and my 8-year-old three days to do this. Not only did I not buy enough primer and paint, I didn’t buy enough masks. Meaning, I bought zero masks. After watching his first few sprays, I sent the kid inside for the sake of his lungs and brain cells.

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Fun fact: bird poop is also white. So while priming and painting outside, I occasionally discovered surprise lumps that had to be dealth with.

At this point, I was over it. I’d already invested about 4 hours JUST in DUSTING the chairs, cleaning them up, killing the spiders who had made a lair under the seats during their time in storage.

I was determined to do this project the RIGHT way. With the money we’d invested (even though I’d found killer deals) and the amount of use these chairs would get, I really wanted to put forth the effort and know I did my best. But dear GOD. 4 hours for cleaning? Shouldn’t the entire project have been finished in 4 hours?!

After dusting and cleaning and priming and painting and coughing and sweating and fearing that the neighbors could see me bending over in incredibly unflattering shorts at even more incredibly unflattering angles, they were dry. Finally, the time had come for glaze. This was the part I was most excited about. This was the moment when angels would sing and all those details in the chairs would come forth, like a hero emerging from battle, worn and glorious. Yeah, all those details. All. Those. Details. The thing about glazing that nobody tells you is how futile it feels. There’s the first “Oh, crap, what have I done?!” moment when you paint the suuuuper dark glaze over what you’ve just spent a month painting.

chair3Then, once you’ve got an area good and covered…. you wipe it off. Yeah. After obsessing over every nook and cranny and carving, making sure every little detail is covered, you just wipe it off. Like it was no big deal, like you didn’t just pour your heart and soul into even strokes and hard-to-reach corners. You wipe it off and what’s left behind is meant to look accidental. And remember all those details? They all had to be glazed. They all had to be wiped. They all had nooks and crannies and carvings. Yet I pushed on. I tossed some crackers and fruit snacks to the kids and took about 6 more hours than I’d anticipated. Because it will always cost more and take longer than I think. Like pregnancy or road trips.

Being obsessive, I glazed the heck outta those chairs. If I’d spent this much money and this much time, they were going to look like it. (In hindsight, this isn’t the best statement, since I bought all of them second-hand.) I took the time to make sure the undersides of the chairs were evenly glazed, because what if the Queen came to visit and happened to select THAT chair to sit upon, and while her guards were patting it down they discovered the white, unglazed spots and confirmed the Queen’s suspicions that we are but peasants, confirmed her suspicions about America as a whole being lazy and unskilled, and the British tried to take us back? WHAT IF?! Onward I glazed, into the wee hours, because when you’re obsessive it’s near impossible to leave a project and come back to it later. 6 chairs, all highly detailed, all seeming to grow more than the standard 4 legs. Glaze and wipe, glaze and wipe. My body was sore, my stomach was empty, my bladder was full. Finally, at 5AM, they were done. I could rest!

Well, not exactly. They still had those movie theater seat cushions. I’m not a huge lover of color, and you already know I’m basic, so I chose a solid green. Honestly it’s a big deal that I didn’t pick beige or brown, like everything else in my house. Having spent more than I intended – financially and physically – there were a few weeks in between the completion of the glazing and the purchasing of the fabric. Really it’s a miracle I didn’t move on to another project and resign us to a life of those awful red velvet seat cushions. Not wanting to lose another minute, I jumped into re-upholstering the cushions last night. Now is a good point to share that I’ve never re-upholstered anything in my life. I can barely zip my jeans, I had no business handling this much fabric. When the adorably sweet woman at the fabric store asked me how much I wanted cut, I shrugged. Classic Jen, I hadn’t measured the cushions before purchasing fabric to cover them. At least I knew there were 6. Fortunately, when I got home and checked, there was enough fabric. I didn’t measure then, either. Just laid the cushions out and cut around, all willy-nilly. By now I was not concerned with what the Queen thought of my chairs. If she sat on a staple, then ‘Merica.

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Finally, at 3:30 this morning, I finished. The last staple on the last bit of fabric on the last cushion for the last chair. Done. I did it! I completed a project, start to finish! It cost more, hurt more, and took longer than I planned, and after spending so much time so up close and personal with these chairs, I’m not sure I even like them anymore, but by golly my family is going to sit on these for years to come.

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Obligatory “I was crafty so here are some close ups” shots”:

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My takeaway: this stuff is hard. There are people who do this for a living (and don’t charge enough) who have a passion for it and the skills, knowledge, and experience to back it up. They are small business owners who will happily customize whatever you want in whatever way you want, and it will be done quicker, it will be done better. You can sit on the couch and watch TV enjoy time with your kids while someone else sweats and fusses over your pieces. But I didn’t learn a dang thing, because I found a fantastic little vintage vanity and my husband is gone this week, so I’ll be priming that tomorrow.

Resolution Writer’s Block?

Happy New Year, everyone!

It’s 2014, and my Facebook newsfeed has been full of friends and family making promises and vows about what their new year will look like, what the new them will look like. There’s the classic weight-loss resolution, the empowering getting-out-of-debt resolution, the humblebrag volunteering resolution. For every three resolutions that are shared, however, I’m also seeing opinions on resolutions – people rolling their cyberspace eyes at them, those who automatically assume no one will achieve their goals, those who don’t see the point. This blog post is not for those people. I personally love New Year’s resolutions. I think that any time someone takes an opportunity to examine themselves truthfully and challenge themselves to be better is a cause for celebration! Will they make it? Who knows. But the effort alone is something better than what they’d done before, so bra-flipping-vo to them. Every day is a new chance to try again, so if you’ve gained a pound by  January 2nd, so what? You have more than 360 days (I’m pretty bad at math) left to work at it! So I would like to challenge everyone who reads this to make at least one resolution, one vow to better themselves or the people around them. It can’t hurt to try, and it will only help if you do it! Well, except for my oldest, who announced that his New Year resolution was to get a Nintendo 3DS. I told that joker he better resolve to get a job. Below you will find some suggestions for resolutions. Most are pretty simple. I’m not numbering them, because I’m not Buzzfeed and everyone these days LOVES to number their suggestions. 10 Things to do after 10 PM? 17 Ways to Tell Your Mail Carrier Thank You? I’ll leave the numbers with skinny jeans, Crocs, and Pinterest in my “avoid at all costs” pile.

Anywho, please consider choosing a resolution to try! If it doesn’t work, pick a new one. January 1st isn’t a magical date (good, because today is the 2nd). Any time is a great time to be better! Tweak it to make it your own. Involve your whole family. Share it with others to keep yourself accountable or quietly do better. Either way, let’s all plan to do better in 2014. And please, leave your own suggestions in the comments!

 

Try a new trend.  It only takes guts!

Stand up straight. Throw those shoulders back and stare at the world head on. You’ll be surprised to see how much better posture positively affects your mood. Walk around like you’re supposed to be there, not like you were defeated before you got there. And while you’re at it, smile at people as you see them.

Chill out with the selfies. One every now and then is fine, since we want to see your happy, smiling face. But let’s be honest – if you post a weekly selfie, we get it already. And if you post one a week, or even – gasp! – daily, my New Year’s resolution was to hide you from my newsfeed. Self confidence is something you have within yourself, not something you choke others with. For the love, please stop driving and selfie-ing.

Take more photos with you in them. I know, this sounds like it contradicts what I just said. But there’s a difference between taking a photo with a friend or a nice family photo and sitting on a bathroom counter to show everyone what your hair looks like that day. Some day, many many years from now, your children or friends or family will want photos to remember you by. Your grandchildren will want to know what you looked like, be it overweight or skinny, hair done or not. They’ll want to laugh at how silly your clothes looked and marvel at how they have your nose. They won’t want a duckface bathroom mirror picture hanging in their hallway, and you don’t want a picture of you driving, pretending you’re not taking a picture of yourself, blown up and on an easel at your funeral. Jump into the picture and document this time in your life, regardless of how you feel about your appearance. If not for yourself, then for the people in the future who will inevitably want it.

Encourage someone daily.  Send an email or text to someone, compliment your cashier’s hairstyle or nails, pull aside a new mom and tell her she’s doing a great job. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. Take the time to tell a manager about exceptional service you received, send a note in the mail. It takes very little effort, and the smile on their face will almost always result on one on yours. I’ll be honest, I’ve taken screen shots of sweet Facebook messages I’ve received that have made my day. Everyone is always so busy, working so hard, so consumed, and it’s easy to let isolation or routine swallow you up. You may never know the impact that a simple affirmation can have on someone.

Yell less. Unless you’re at a sporting event or being attacked, how necessary is your outside voice? I’ll be honest, I struggle with this myself, often out of frustration at my kids. Yelling may make my words louder, but it rarely gets me heard.

Cook more. I’m grumbling as I’m typing this. I hate cooking. Well, I hate juggling three kids while cooking. I would much rather decide what sounds good and have someone else cook it for me, often better, and much, much faster. But cooking always saves us money, is almost always healthier, and sometimes even leaves enough leftovers for a pretty sweet lunch the next day.

Get involved in a child’s life. If you have a niece or nephew, a grandchild, or even a close friend with a child, please make the effort to be a part of their life. Kids are fascinating creatures. They’re only this age today, tomorrow they’ll be a little older. Children love and need attention, to be made to feel special. I am an only child, so I get extremely jealous and sad when I see or hear of children who have amazing aunts and uncles who are involved in their lives, who call them, babysit them, get excited about them, cheer them on at events. So make a phone call, make the effort. Go to a soccer game, ask them about themselves. Babysit (for free!), CARE. Investing time into a child will ALWAYS be worth it.  Children don’t know how to maintain a relationship when they are young, so you’ve got to do the legwork.

Stop asking me to do things without my kids. Let me clarify: Stop forgetting that I have kids. Without naming names, there is a couple in my life who I should have a better relationship with, but they keep forgetting that I have children. Three of them. Yet this couple’s closing statement the 2-3 times a year I see them is “We should go to dinner, just the four of us.” As stated above, I don’t have an abundance of people in my life who will step up and love my kids for a few hours while I hang out with you. And the babysitting I DO get, I like to use to get a rare date night with my husband. If you want to get closer to me, embrace my kids. Would I love to have a leisurely lunch without them? Oh yes. But if you make it a condition of our relationship that my kids not be present, you can kiss our relationship goodbye.

Plant something. A flower garden, a Topsy Turvey hanging tomato plant, or your feet on the ground, make something grow this year. Make the earth better. Make the air cleaner. Eat produce that you grew. Pick flowers that you watered. Take ownership and pride in something that can nourish your body or soul.

Vote. Learn about issues, local and national, that you can get passionate about and have a voice in. Not everyone has the right to vote, so make sure you appreciate and exercise yours!

Have a garage sale. This will clear your home of unused and unnecessary clutter, force you to give yourself a deadline if you set the date of the sale, and get you some extra cash. You can join together with friends or neighbors to help share the workload. Craigslist is spotty and Ebay takes time, but a garage sale is relatively quick and easy to pull off. How could your life not be better with less mess and more moolah? Bonus – Use the cash to pay off a bill!

Stop the Facebook game requests. Seriously. I can count on my hands the number of people I have ever deleted as a Facebook friend, but the majority of those few chosen were due to excessive game requests. Yes, now I know I can block requests from individual people, and believe me, I do. I once received over 20 requests in a single day… from a single person! The craziest part? All of the game requests – every single one – are from adults. Grown dang people. People with jobs and families. If you send me multiple game requests, I WILL simultaneously block your ability to do so and question what you do with your life. I’ve also noticed a correlation between the people who send large amounts of game requests and the people who complain about their lives. I’m not SAYING the games are the cause of unhappiness in their lives, I’m just saying maybe if they spent less time being grown dang people who play computer games and more time being grown dang people who engage in their real life, they’d see that there are blessings all around them.

Park better. If you find yourself with the wheels of your vehicle over the lines of the parking spot in 2014, take the time to back out and try again. Otherwise, someone else may resolve to key your vehicle or leave you a nasty note. Or just resolve that you’re not smart enough to park between two straight lines.

Listen. If it’s a child telling a never-ending and nonsensical story or an elderly man talking about his grandchildren in the grocery store, they’re telling you because they want you to hear it. Just listen.

Volunteer. Not to humblebrag. But to offer something that is invaluable and always there, no matter what your bank account says: your time and your heart. If you can’t give, help. Contact local food pantries to see if they need items or help stocking shelves. Contact local churches to see if they have outreach ministries. If you’re involved in a church, pray about what department you feel strongly about and could offer one day a month to help with. Mentoring or tutoring programs with schools or libraries. Women’s shelters. Nursing homes. Soup kitchens. Homeless shelters. Prison ministries. Pregnancy centers. Children’s hospitals. Do yardwork for a widow or even just mow your neighbor’s yard while you’re already out there doing yours. Contact someone who hasn’t been to church in a while and let them know they’re missed. Babysit – for free! Hug someone who has been hurt. Share your love as passionately as you do your political beliefs. Give of your time and heart and make a difference.

Accept people for who they are – not who you think they should be.  Many of the times in my life that I have been disappointed by someone, it is because I expected them to be someone else, or at least behave a certain way. If someone has always been a flake, then I can’t expect plans with me to change that. If children are inherently selfish, then I can’t expect mine to not struggle with sharing. My mother is bipolar, no matter how much I wish she weren’t. Loving someone who is bipolar is as much a roller coaster for you as for them (and I may blog about this alone in the future). But I was reminded by my aunt that she is bipolar no matter how much it affects me. I can either accept her as she is (and remind myself that sometimes there’s more illness than individual), or not at all. Yes, sometimes people just ARE that dumb. But getting angry about it won’t make them smarter or help either of you. The sooner you let someone else’s choices or quirks roll off your back, the happier you’ll be. Someone being rude to you has nothing to do with you – they’re just rude. So don’t take it personally and move on. My younger son does not behave the way my older son does. The sooner I accept that he is NOT my older son, the sooner I can appreciate what makes him so different. If someone is living a lifestyle different than my own, they are not doing so as a personal affront to me. I do not have the right to be offended that someone is different from myself.  Accept people for who they are, and your life will get infinitely happier.

Buy small. Maybe there’s a cute boutique in your town. Maybe you know someone who sews or embroiders or paints or builds. I’m sure you know a mechanic who works in a small garage. A hole-in-the-wall local favorite restaurant. I have dozens of friends involved in direct sales, everything from Scentsy to spa products, wine to supplements, jewelry, purses, home decor, makeup… I challenge you this year to use your dollars to support small businesses, small business owners, and local favorites. If you’re going to have to buy something anyway, see if you can support a friend while doing it. The customer service you’ll receive will almost always be better, products will almost always be higher quality, and your community will be directly influenced by your support.

Watch Impractical Jokers. Just once. You’ll laugh so hard you might pee yourself.

Reduce your ingredients, not your pants size. If you’re going to resolve to get healthier this year, do it to be actually healthier, not smaller. Diets are temporary. Changing your lifestyle will have much greater impact. Denying yourself a Snickers for all of 2014? Good luck with that. But educating yourself about the ingredients you introduce into your body will make you much more passionate about your health, and will probably have the added bonus of wittling away at your waistline.

Accept responsibility. The sooner you stop blaming others and accepting how your own actions affect you, the sooner you can do something about them to change whatever you’re unhappy with. Are you mad at the guy driving slowly in front of you? Maybe if you’d left on time you wouldn’t be so rushed. Friends keep letting you down? Maybe you asked too much of them. You have the worst parents in the world because they won’t upgrade your iPhone? Maybe you’re a spoiled brat. Accept that we’re all human, all fallible, and all capable of messing up our lives. Accept your responsibility. Then go a step further and do something about it.

Love on your pastor. And his wife. And his kids. Don’t have a pastor? Then find someone who pours into your life, encourages you, gives of their time, and love on them. Ministry is a largely thankless job that is definitely not pursued for the money. I’m sure this will end up being a blog post of its own in the future, as well, but for now, just know that pastors deal with a lot. While you’re at it, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and many other professions where someone leaves their family to help yours is worthy of the occasional thank you. Muffins, gift cards, notes, hugs…. Take the time to thank someone who took the time.

Welcome troops home. Go to the airport, make a sign, and prepare to cry your face off. If you can’t make it to a homecoming, then adopt a soldier. Send cards or letters to deployed soldiers. If you live near a base, offer your home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or really any meal for someone’s son or daughter who misses home badly. Their job is harder than yours, and they don’t see their loved ones as often as you do, so reach out, thank them, and do what you can.

 

As usual, I’ve gone on much longer than I expected to. There are countless ways to do better this year, so let’s hear your suggestions! Good luck everyone, and Happy New YOU!

Grocery Store Etiquette

In order to mark the momentous occasion that is my first official blog post, I decided to go big. Go exciting. Talk about something earth-shaking and mind-blowing and controversial that will make you glad you took the time away from playing Candy Crush on the toilet to read this.

Apparently grocery store etiquette doesn’t exist. At least not anywhere formal. There are sites dedicated to what NOT to do (wear) to the grocery store, but I’m not aware of any that tell you how to behave like a human. So I would like to make grocery store etiquette available to all who would Google it. Even though, let’s be honest, the people who are Googling “Grocery Store Etiquette” aren’t the ones who need it most, amIright?

Before embarking on one’s mission to the local grocer, there are several things to consider. Am I wearing the appropriate undergarments? Are said undergarments UNDERNEATH a layer of weather-appropriate clothing? Are all of these undergarments unseen? Am I wearing a recent application of deodorant? Have I showered recently enough to remember when? Only when the answer to ALL of these questions is yes are you prepared to exit the home and shop amongst the natives.

Upon entering the parking lot at a safe and appropriate speed, proceed up and down the parking aisles ONLY in the direction intended. If you have to bust a u-turn to get into your chosen spot, you are going the wrong way. In this scenario, we are in America, where drivers stick to the RIGHT side of the road. This applies later, as well. If you can see tail lights of the cars parked around you, congratulations on driving the right way. If you see headlights, try again. While browsing for your dream spot, heed the pedestrians. Yes, they walk like a herd of turtles. Yes, they intentionally spread out and leave no room for you to eek past in your parking quest. Yes, they load their groceries into the back of their SUV so slowly that it’s likely the expiration date on their milk will be reached before they finish. And you better believe they know what they’re doing when they sit in their idling car, updating Facebook and returning texts while you wait for their spot. But heed the pedestrians. Because it is REALLY awkward when you tap one with your bumper on the way to snag a spot, only to have them limp past you when you get out. Once that prime bit of real estate has been spotted and confirmed vacant, proceed at a speed of less than 20 mph. If you see someone else headed towards the same spot, it is not a race. I promise. Be the bigger person. ESPECIALLY if you see carseats or a pregnant belly. Let chivalry reign in the parking lot. Once you have claimed your spot, examine the lines on either side. Can you see them both? Are your tires free of any contact with them? Are your tires INSIDE both of them? Is your car angled to mimic those lines? The parking lot is no place to get fancy with geometry. Just park inside the lines. Can the customers and fellow human beings on either side of you comfortably enter and exit their vehicle based on the proximity of yours? If the answer to any of those questions was “no”, then go home. You have failed. If you can’t nail the parking thing, you’re probably going to be a turd inside the store, too.

Now you find yourself approaching the entry to your favorite store. You’re overwhelmed with choices – do I grab small arm basket? Do I need a motorized cart with a tiny basket? Do I select a shopping cart and risk  getting stuck somewhere behind the people who chose the motorized cart? Here’s how you choose: If you are getting anything other than a small bag of marshmallows, don’t get the arm basket. Groceries are deceptively heavy, and the metal handles hurt like a sonofagun when they dig into your arm. So just carry your two things. Plus, there’s always the awkward “Where do I put this basket?” moment at the checkout. If you’re buying more than 10 things, don’t get the motorized cart. You can see how small that basket is. They’re like actual denim blue jeans, not jeggings. No stretch. You can’t get away with shoving more than you should into them. Should you require the motorized cart, please, for the love of ALL things holy, drive on the RIGHT SIDE OF THE AISLES. The middle of the aisle is not conveniently open for your cruising. The bread aisle was not dreamed up for you to park and argue. Do your part to squash that crotchety-person-on-the-assault-wagon stereotype. If you tag a customer in the behind or take down a corner display, do the right thing and apologize. The grocery store is not a big whack-a-mole game of ramming legs. Look at me like it was my fault, and I may just grab one of your items and put it on the top shelf.

Obviously, at this point, we’ve deduced that the safest choice is a cart on wheels, a buggy, a doohiggy. Whatever. Maintain control of your cart at all times. Push your cart down the RIGHT SIDE OF THE AISLES at all times. If you get a defective cart with a wonky wheel, do not abandon it in front of the macaroni. Kindly return it to the shopping cart bay, or pull up your big girl britches and get your list checked off while dealing with it.

At some point during every shopping trip, I encounter someone. I’m not talking about the people I know. Not the people I prepared to see by putting on undergarments and deodorant. Seeing someone I know is inevitable. But so is happening upon THAT person. The time suck. The weirdo. The person of seemingly below-average intelligence and above-average loneliness. I’m told this doesn’t happen to everyone, but for me it’s as much a grocery store staple as milk. If you put off the same freak beacon as I do, you will encounter someone who wants to talk. And talk. Then ignore your attempts to back away or check the time. And continue talking. Be kind. My husband tells me it’s God drawing them near to me because I’ll listen and they need it. My head tells me it’s because I tapped a pedestrian with my bumper earlier. Either way, be kind. This trip may be their only interaction with people who don’t have tails. Since I believe in God, I have to believe that there is some divine reason, something I have to offer them. If YOU are the time-suck… for gravy’s sake, get to the point. You see my frozen items. You hear my cell phone going off. If you need someone to talk to, then maybe let’s walk and do it. Come to church and meet new people. Be efficient in your time-sucking, and I’ll be a lot more receptive. If you’re the old man who backed me into the Ovaltine and talked for twenty minutes about forcing uninterrupted eye contact on your children… just stay home and order out every night.

Your unwanted cheese does not belong amongst the Gain, so don’t leave it there.

“I seen” is not an English phrase. Do not refer to a sale you eyed on aisle 6 in this manner.

Place a jar of organic peanut butter and a bag of carrots on the very top of your cart to avoid being judged by the contents underneath.

Special considerations: Shoppers with children and couponers. Nobody WANTS to take their kids to the grocery store. Trust me. If you see a parent at the store with their children in tow, then their kitchen is BARE. They waited until they could wait no longer. As a hardcore-stockpiling-couponer-turned-casual-money-saver, I would ask you to extend couponers some courtesy. It took a lot of time and organization for them to haul their giant notebooks out. They’ve likely been there for hours doing countless math scenarios and coming up with back-up plan after back-up plan when they don’t find what they’d anticipated. If they clear the shelves, yes, they’re jerks. The world will keep spinning and gravity will keep working. And don’t worry, they’ll most likely encounter a really rude cashier who thinks they’re trying to steal from the store, so that will catch up with them REAL quick.

Have you ever noticed how the person who smells the worst/curses the loudest in front of your children/talks your ear off/walks the slowest always seems to have the same grocery list as you? Yeah, I haven’t found a solution for that one.

As this post has already gotten much more lengthy than I anticipated, I’ll try and sum it up: Be kind. You are not the only person in the store. You are not the only person in the world. Everyone is there because they need something. Grocery stores are great equalizers. Be considerate. Be kind. When someone inevitably wrongs you, let it go. Kroger is not the place to make a stand and prove a point. If you must be on a cellular device, do not speak loudly. Try and refrain from using salty language. When you reach the cashier, put your phone away, smile, and TALK with them. If you read People magazine while waiting, don’t set it on top of the Ice Breakers mints when you’re done.

And for the love of GOD, if you see someone you know and can’t possibly wait until a more convenient time to get caught up on the last 8 1/2 years of each others’ lives, then find a spot that DOESN’T BLOCK PEOPLE. Remember, we’re all here because we need something, so try and keep an open mind about what someone else may need – frozen pizzas, companionship, or uninterrupted eye contact.