Big Mama Blog

Singlehandedly keeping HEB in business

So today is the first day of Lent. And you know what I’d really like to give up?

Going to the grocery store.

That’s the thought that occurred to me as I walked into HEB for the fourth time in two days yesterday. It’s like I’ve turned into my Me-Ma and Pa-Pa who used to go to the Market Basket down the street from their house an average of forty-two times a week.

My initial trip was to pick up some prescriptions for P and a few other things that we needed around the house. But naturally I forgot to get milk which was one of the more crucial items on my list. So I made a return trip to get it.

Then yesterday I ran to Central Market because I was going to pick up a cheese and cracker tray to take to Caroline’s school for teacher conference week. Except they were out of cheese and cracker trays.

So I drove to my regular HEB in the hopes of finding a cheese and cracker tray and also to pick up yet another prescription for P because I had called the doctor earlier to see if he could call in a different medication. (I think most of you know by now that I consider myself to practically be a doctor because of all my pharmaceutical sales experience. It’s almost exactly the same as all those years of medical school.)

But the new prescription hadn’t been called in yet, plus there was nary a cheese and cracker tray to be found. I had to resort to buying assorted cheeses and boxes of crackers to create my own cheese tray just like women used to do in pioneer times. However, I did take this opportunity to buy us all new toothbrushes because you always hear about how that’s important after you’ve been sick.

(Of course I’ve also heard that you’re supposed to buy a new pillow at least once every couple of years and I think I’ve been sleeping on the same pillow ever since P and I got married. It’s not entirely due to lack of trying. I’ve purchased a few pillows over the years in the hopes that one of them might be THE ONE, but they’ve all left me with regrets and I’ve returned to my first love.)

(Just in case you’re going to recommend a pillow, I need you to know that I enjoy a feather pillow and it needs to be fairly flat. Don’t try to tell me I want anything that involves memory foam. You might as well tell me to lie my head on a cement cinder block every night.)

(Also, I believe it was Oprah who spread that propaganda about the need for a new pillow on a regular basis and that’s easy to say when you can afford to buy all manner of pillows filled with the right blend of essence of butterfly wings and magical sleep dust made from a unicorn’s horn.)

The sweet girl at the pharmacy said she’d call me when the prescription was ready but I never heard from her and it’s probably for the best because if I’d had to go to HEB for the fifth time in two days I might have lost my will to live.

And given the fact that this is the headline story of this post, it’s safe to assume there just isn’t much going on around here right now. The truth is I think I’m still recovering after a month of releasing a book and traveling and taking care of Caroline while she was sick and then getting sick myself and now taking care of P. Which maybe explains why I’ve had a tendency to go full on hermit on any day that gives me that opportunity.

I’m just shy of growing a beard and living under a bridge and yelling at billy goats. Except now that I think about it, I think that was a troll. Whatever.

You get the point.

Anyway, Caroline has early dismissal from school for the rest of the week. I mentioned that one day we could go have a nice girls’ lunch and then do some shopping for clothes that aren’t darling. She has taken me up on my offer. I would appreciate prayers for patience and a supernatural understanding of sentences that sound like “I don’t want a short sleeve shirt, but one that is kind of short sleeve-ish” or “I like this but it feels kind of …(makes gesture like flapping arms while frowning)”

But I have to say it promises to be a lot more fun than another trip to the grocery store.

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  1. 1

    Oh, Melanie!
    You don’t disappoint! Love the humor and the pillow talk! Hilarious! (that was a joke, but I had to throw it in there because usually, I am never witty enough to think of jokes at the right time…kinda like George in the Seinfeld episode with the shrimp) I completely agree with you – flat and feathery pillows are the only way to go. And, they must be 10 years old. Or perhaps even older…maybe they were a wedding gift from 13 years ago. But, no one is counting.
    Loving your second book and I tell everyone about it! Keep up the great work! :)

  2. 2

    Haha love it! I just finished reading Antelope in the Living Room and I laughed out loud all the way through it!! Congratulations on another amazing book!!

  3. 3

    Hibernation is underrated. I love to stay home and try valiantly each week not to get into my car. This week tho I have TWO live concerts to do and the first was FAB. Friday’s promises to be even better.

    I hope that your entire family gets their health back and their mo-jo on. Clothes shopping is akin to torture. I can’t remember the last time I actually was in a clothes store that sold new clothes. I prefer them worn in at the thrifties. Good luck to both of you in this venture.

  4. 4

    After raising three girls and a boy, i can safely tell you that when shopping with kids NEVER say you like something……walk away from anything you like. Do NOT approach any sale/clearance rack. After reading my comment, i am happy my kids are grown. Shopping was more stressful than driver’s training :)

    • 5
      Colorado says:

      Exactly what Beth wrote (shopping being more stressful than driver’s training)!!!!

  5. 6

    Sending prayers for peaceful shopping your way. My tactic is: I let her pick out what she likes, but keep veto power. I veto only what makes her look like, well, you know. If it’s just a difference in style preference, I let her buy it. She’s now 17, and I’ll be dad-gummed if some of my influence hasn’t rubbed off on her. Hang in there. Before you know it, you and Caroline will be gravitating to the same rack! Well, most of the time.

  6. 7

    Oh, the pillow thing. I got roped into thinking that I needed to replace my pillow on our 10 year anniversary – I mean, that seems like a long pillow life, right? Anyway, I convinced Matt to spend a pretty penny on a new pillow (hypoallergenic b/c of a lovely feather allergy). That pillow is like sleeping on the surface of the sun. The first couple of nights I thought the AC was broken and then finally (genius that I am) figured out it was the pillow. It’s miserable. I wake up with sweaty bed head every morning which means I’ve bought stock in dry shampoo. Lovely, right? And since it was not your average $20 pillow, I have to stick with it until my pride finally collapses. Moral: don’t try to fix what ‘aint broken. I miss my old pillow.

  7. 8
    Vicki B says:

    Memory foam pillows are the devil. Shopping with ungirly girls who are texture sensitive is not for the faint of heart. Especially those that declare blouses/sweaters, etc to make her feel like a “flying squirrel” complete with demonstration in the middle of the store much to the vexation of her mother and amusement of grandmother. There’s much to be said for school uniforms.

  8. 9
    Michelle says:

    I have to share that my 6 year old approves me reading your blog at breakfast because he hopes there will be more links to fun videos (like the recent Frozen parody). Today did not disappoint as you had the funniest Toaster Streudel ad on your page – seriuosly, if you haven’t watched it, you should find it and do so. The Toaster Streudels have wings and fly like butterflies and that’s not even the funniest part. Hope you get your whole family healthy soon!

  9. 10
    Laura B says:

    The most successful pants buying place was Dillard’s or JC Penny for my girls (jeans). I cannot remember which one it was, but they have an adorable line of colored jeans (purple, pink, green, blue, orange) that have sustained us for 2 years +! And the kids love them. Reasonably priced too. Otherwise, get yourself over to Nordstrom. Always success there with my girls. A good selection of sporty/cute and not darling. Good luck. And the pioneer woman cracker tray? Hilarious!

  10. 11

    Reading Antelope in a public place will insure that you laugh out loud at random intervals and make nearby teenagers stare at you!!!! :-)

  11. 12

    Ha ha! Good luck, Melanie. I’ve got a 5th grade girl too and I DEFINITELY feel your pain.

  12. 13

    Laughed all the way through – and totally feel your pain.
    I used to think they grocery would call me to check on me if I didn’t show up a couple of times a day…..

  13. 14

    Rarely do I comment because, well, usually I’ve got nothing. However the pillow dilemma is is one to which I feel I can speak and hopefully shed some light. For years, I have taken our feather pillows to the dry cleaner who replaces the fabric ticking, sanitizes the existing feathers/down and adds extra down as needed – essentially making a new pillow but at a much lower cost than replacing them. I can assure you I felt like a genius when I discovered this could be done!

    • 15

      I can’t even tell you how exciting this is. As a child my grandma asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told her I wanted a nice pillow like the ones she had at her house. That is exactly what I got and I am ridiculously attached to that pillow (even though it is over 20 years old). Now finally a way to bring it some new life!

  14. 16

    Thanks for the laughs! Here is one our favorite descriptive comments and I’m sure you’ve heard it yourself, “It’s like this but only different.” Usually means we are going to be shopping 10 times longer then I had scheduled. Here is to a joyful and one thought at a time day.

  15. 17

    Melanie – I read both of your books in two weeks (which is record time. Trust.). Nodding my head in agreeance, tearing up, and laughing all at once. Thank you for writing something so relatable on every level. Crossing fingers for a third!

  16. 18

    God be with you. Taking my 10 year old shopping makes me completely lose the will to live. Basically the only thing we CAN agree on is Nike shorts and t-shirts. She has an affinity for clothes with copious amounts of glitter, while I have an affinity for not having the inside of my washing machine looking like it belongs in a strip club.

  17. 19

    I’m embarrassed to ask – what’s HEB, besides a grocery store? :)

    • 20

      HEB IS a grocery store, a big chain now, and the name is the initials of the owner/founder.

  18. 21

    IKEA pillows are amazing.
    Yes, I would like to give up going to the grocery store for lent. And washing dishes. And doing laundry. SIGH.

  19. 22

    Oh my stars! Don’t you just HATE that memory foam crap? My husband “researched” online and ended up buying us a memory foam mattress – without asking for or wanting any input from me. Is was like sleeping on a wet bale of hay! Never. Again.

  20. 23

    Meet your fellow pillow seeking pilgrim! My husband says we have a graveyard of pillow rejects under our bed! At long last, I have settled on a three pillow “best”. One really blah king size pillow with two $5 Target mushy pillows on top in an upside down V. Starting to sound a little weird here I know, but pillow happiness is crucial!

  21. 24

    Well, I’d be interested in hearing where you and Caroline find to shop for clothes. I just caught up on old posts and see that when Caroline announced wanting new clothes you actually sat down at the computer and tried to find a store that had “the look” she wanted. I know my girls would love to go shopping with you – my method is to go to the mall and just try to find something that fits. I have discovered recently that they love to go to Hollister and shop the sales – but they are totally embarrassed to carry around their purchases in the bag with the “naked guy” (he has his shirt off.) I have also been tempted to take a flashlight into that store. And earplugs. Oh, and if you’re allergic to cologne that’s likely to give you a headache too.

  22. 25

    Alright, crunch time! Here’s some proven “to work” mother shopping with daughter tips. Take them as you will.

    1. NEVER SAY, “I LOVE THAT!” No no no! Shhhhh! Ask cool level-headed questions (pretend she’s like 32 yrs old) such as, How does that feel to you? Do you like the color? Or, Is that the look you are going for? All the while, acting a little disinterested. Look at the racks of things nearby. The more you are UNINTERESTED in her choices, the more likely she will choose items that you can sort of live with.

    2. DO NOT PICK ANYTHING!!! Walk away from racks (that possibly look darling)! Let her “find” stuff you approve of on her own. When she’s off track, throw P under the bus. Saying stuff like, “Oh Dad would never go for that! You know how fuddy duddy he is!”. I’ve USED my hubby so many times he has tire marks on his face!

    3. Make a game plan and come up with a “budget” that you will spend. It does something to their little female brains. They suddenly begin to make a wardrobe sacrifice in order to keep within their spending means. And funny enough….they learn to pick some classic pieces that can be pretty cute. Yes, even those picky girls.

    4. Juice her up (and yourself) with a Starbucks or Steak n Shake milkshake. Goodness knows, you’ll need caffeine power! Oh and it doesn’t hurt to have a little something in your stomachs. Shopping hungry or thirsty ALWAYS ends badly.

    5. Give her control (at least let her THINK she has some control) over her “vision” of what she wants. You will be surprised at how cute some of her choices will be.

    6. Tell her fashion regret stories…..that always works. Remind her, pictures of our style never lie. Choose carefully or see it etched forever through photographs.

    7. PRAY TO JESUS FOR STRENGTH! She is going to try to beat you. Remember, HE expects you to lead her with courage and wise direction.

    I am clearly not an expert. But I did raise two very fashion fanatic girls and they turned out beautiful. I remember challenging days (they were 18 months apart) that I didn’t agree with every fashion choice….but God paved the way for each of us. They both have great taste and I’d like to think that my influence helped in leading them to dress to impress.

    PS- Don’t feel like you’ve failed if it all goes to heck. Not every shopping trip is successful.

    Prayer for ya:

    Rain down shopping blessings on Melanie & Caroline. Help them both to be reasonable as they pick out items that others will see and ultimately judge. Give them eyes to choose what is honorable to You. We trust you God and we know you care how we look, all the time. Give Melanie the MOM POWER to direct Caroline with love and creativity to be who she is….even if the fashion choice is a little out of her comfort zone.

    • 26
      bamacurl says:

      This is so AWESOME! I will prepared next time I venture out with my 5th grader. It doesn’t matter that he’s a boy, shopping with and for him is very stressful

    • 27

      Wanda, this is genius!! I so wish I had known you when my children were little. I was wise enough to know to never show a flicker of interest, or it would be rejected! And I totally agree that honoring God is important. My daughter once dated a nice boy her senior year who said she was the only girl he knew that dressed modestly! And your prayer was so sweet! God bless you! Heaven will be so much fun meeting people like you that I never had a chance to meet on earth.

  23. 28

    pillow advice: I read once about the *mold* growing on/in down and feather pillows, so I do buy a new one for myself every so often…husband, not so much. His feel heavy and to my mind *disgusting* with mite poop. Yes, poop. I believe the science.

    In any case, if I do not find the same pillow that gave me pleasure from a purchase in the past, I try to find similar, and if too puffy, I open up an end seam, take some stuffing out, and just handstitch that opening closed. That way, there is no break in period. You get the fluff height you want, right out the door.

  24. 29
    Karen Beymer says:

    Well I have been sleeping on 2 wonderful feather pillows my mother-law made I don’t know how long ago. I have tried others but nothing absolutely nothing can take their place.
    They go with me on every overnight stay. I get terribly worried if I have to be separated from them, it’s like my grand daughter & her Mr. Bear.
    Oh, my prayers are with you as you shop today. But you will survive to shop with a teenager & wish for these more “pleasant” days.

  25. 30
    Karen Beymer says:

    Well I have been sleeping on 2 wonderful feather pillows my mother-law made I don’t know how long ago. I have tried others but nothing absolutely nothing can take their place.
    They go with me on every overnight stay. I get terribly worried if I have to be separated from them, it’s like my grand daughter & her Mr. Bear.
    Oh, my prayers are with you as you shop today. But you will survive to shop with a teenager & wish for these more “pleasant” days. Hope all is getting better for Perry.

  26. 31

    Best of luck and all manner of fairy shopping dust. My 11-year-old told me last summer when we were shopping for that elusive first-day-of-school outfit: “I like it, but it’s probably the last thing I’d choose.” Well, of course.

  27. 32

    As the mother of 3 girls, I know your pain. (or rather “knew”) They do grow up, find their own style, and the shopping nightmares end! We have a picture of one of our daughters in a pair of red union suit long johns. She wore it to school because it was so cool at the time. We took a picture and had her write on the back “I will always think this is cool” We all laugh at that inscription today!
    It is the first day of lent, and I wanted to find an online devotion. to reflect on. I discovered Biola’s The Lent Project. I think it is going to be great!

    • 33

      Thank you for sharing The Lent Project from Biola. I was looking for something. It is perfect.

  28. 34

    I love you girl! You are a trip!
    Hope P feels better soon and best of luck with your shopping trip. I seriously dread shopping with my 14 year old. Very indecisive and picky! No joke it took us 3 hours one day last summer just to get two bathing suits. I wanted to throw myself in front of a train by the end of that trip.

  29. 35

    I recently heard that Oprah couldn’t believe that people only change their sheets once a week as opposed to every day like her people do for her! I too have had one pillow in particular for years. And I mean YEARS. I have gotten new ones but I can’t seem to let that one go.

    • 36

      No offense to Oprah, for whom I have the deepest respect, but if she really said that then she needs to rejoin the common people for a moment and realize that my staff (ha) is overworked as it is and no one ever died from sleeping two nights in a row on the same sheets. And that’s about all I have to say about that.

  30. 37

    Hysterical. Flapping arms while frowning…LOL. God be with ye.

  31. 38

    I have always gotten us new toothbrushes when someone is sick! Until recently, when a mom I know told me that everyone should have their own toothpaste!!??? What the what! It does make sense with all 3 of my kids sharing one toothpaste tube. Geez, this could get expensive! Just FYI. Hope P feels better soon!

  32. 39
    Rachelle says:

    I too just finished your new book. Thank you for the laughs on a recent flight home from Houston!! Enjoyed both your books & now finding your blog. I see myself in so much of what you write! Thanks for letting me know I am not alone!

  33. 40
    Deborah (Debbie) says:

    O.K. needed a smile today. Got it. Thanks! :)

  34. 41

    Butterfly Wings and Sleep Dust from Unicorn Horns… man – I gotta get me one of THOSE!?

    I remember when I was taking my only girlie shopping for – I don’t know – first grade back to school shopping… she was super picky because, of course, she didn’t like things touching her. sigh. My neice when she was about the same age (also an only – but don’t worry – they grow out of it, and they really do eventually become one of your preferred shopping buddies, I promise!) stated to her mother after the fifth outfit she held up, “Mom -that’s just… (flapping arms and frowning, I am assuming) NOT my style!” And because my sister is – well, a bit like us, told her lovely little girlie that she was mistaken – she was only six and she did not HAVE a style! ;)

    (Now I need to unpack my groceries from my trip and pray I didn’t forget anything crucial. I am not going back there again!)

  35. 42

    Just bought all new pillows for the entire household (Belk’s was having a sale) and honestly, I don’t know where I got the idea. I think I read someplace that you’re supposed to buy new pillows at least once in your lifetime–maybe it was Oprah, maybe she gets kickbacks–and then, bam, Belk’s sends out a sale ad, and I am there.. I felt like homemaker extraordinaire. My best friend, Debbie N, has her pillows scheduled for replacement on HER CALENDAR. Who does that? Anyway, so far, so good. My neck isn’t killing me. We all seem good, though it’s still early. Next week we may be singing a different pillow tune,.. I have not tossed out the old ones, yet.

  36. 43

    Oh, do I have the same pillow problem as you. I also like my pillow’s flat, but not feather-y. A big pillow makes me feel like my neck is being stretched, and one too fluffy comes up around both sides of my head and makes me feel like I’m being smothered. I have no advice for you, but I did find a semi-satisfactory pillow at Ikea for stomach sleepers. Who cares if one side’s a touch higher than the other.

  37. 44

    The only suggestion I will make for your pillow is IKEA. Every single one of their pillows is so flat, I can’t sleep on them. But, it may fit the bill for you and yes, they have feather pillow for reasonable prices.

  38. 45

    funny story, hope everyone fully recovers soon!
    …I get sick of going to the grocery store some weeks and wonder if the mangers would check on me if I didn’t show for a few days! I love my memory pillow becasue of a bad neck; it helps. Clothes shopping…for one I realized after pounding the mall looking, she knew where she wanted to go and exactly what she wanted. She knew the limits in $$ and style. I told her please just ell me next time and save us all a lot of tiredness. We are the stylists for her sister. She only will item shop and must be feed. They are 14 and 15.

  39. 46

    I LOVED your books! I honestly can’t remember the last book I’ve read before yours! I’ve tried a few over the past number of years but never finished one. I read both of yours in a week! My only disappointment is that there isn’t another one. I’ve been telling everyone about them. Each chapter had me laughing and a few had me in tears due to laughing. Thanks for the great books–I’m hoping for another!:)

  40. 47

    My daughters are just like Caroline! I keep telling myself it’s the age (mine are 9 and 12) but, I don’t enjoy shopping for them. We have countless clothes that they picked out and haven’t ever been worn! Oh, and department stores…you and I have the same exact feelings LOL!

  41. 48
    Cassie Sue says:

    I buy all my kids clothes without them going to the store with me (girl 13, boy 11) which still is working pretty well. Thank God! And the only time they get free reign is at Goodwill where they can have WHATEVER their little hearts desire (and they usually pick a huge amount of sweatshirts and jackets). My daughter loves that place and has made some….interesting… clothing choices, but overall they work out pretty well. And since they only wear those Goodwill clothes on the weekends when we are bumming around the house so I don’t really care. At school they wear the nicer clothes that I have bought and meets their schools strict dress code.

  42. 49

    my 10 year old daughter is the only one out of all 7 of my kids that cause me pain when we shop together..she told me last time, i clearly did not know the difference between glitter and sparkles..good luck!!