Chickadee Thursday

Today is Moose’s birthday, and Chickadee always loves being a part of a celebration!

Bonus picture time! Chickadee is a huge fan of those themed cardboard backdrops that stores like to use to advertise new movies. I’ve taken her picture with Frozen, Star Wars, and Lego Batman versions, and those are just the ones I’ve shared on Chickadee Thursday…there have been others! So when we stumbled across a Cars 3 backdrop at Walmart yesterday, she had to stop and take her picture with both sides of it:

I love how everything is fun to her!

Chickadee Thursday

We had a fun morning at the St. Louis Science Center!

It’s bonus picture time! On Tuesday, Chickadee and I stopped at Walmart while “The Bigs” were at choir rehearsal. The second she saw this carriage, I knew she was going to test it out. It wasn’t until later in the evening after we got home that I learned that she had told Ryan that “they forgot to put the horses out with it!”

Mercy at Walmart

This evening I decided to stop at Walmart.

I know. I should have my head examined. Here we are, with an ice storm warning set to begin tomorrow, and last for over 48 hours, and I picked Walmart of all places to shop at. The best part is, I didn’t truly need anything. There were, however, a few things I wanted to pick up, and I knew Walmart was the only place I could find them.

So, Turkey and Moose and I went to Walmart after catechesis. It was as you would expect. The parking lot was a nightmare, there were few carts to be found, the snack and soda aisles were pretty much wiped clean, and the only thing that saved the milk coolers from the same fate was the fact that they were actively being restocked. The aisles were all backed up with carts, and there were traffic jams everywhere.

And then we got to the checkout lines.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen them that bad, not even at Christmas. There were plenty of lines open, but they were all long. Fortunately, the shoppers, at least in the line we ended up in, were pretty good-natured, and we even had a nice conversation with the gentleman in front of us as we waited.

This was all a bit too much for Moose, however. It was the end of a long day for him, after school and catechesis. And our stopping meant dinner was going to be late, and even though he was prepared for it ahead of time, that didn’t mean he was too happy about it. Plus, Walmart on a quiet day is bright and loud and overwhelming, to say nothing of Walmart before a St. Louis Weather French Toast Event. So he was acting a bit squirrely by the time it was our turn to put our items on the belt and pay.

He was trying his best to help with the bagging process, but it wasn’t really working. And I was trying to just get him to stand still, out-of-the-way, so the checker could do his job as efficiently as possible.

I guess he must have sensed my concern, because the cashier, who was a fairly young man, very deliberately made eye contact with me. And with more mercy than I’m used to hearing, he said, “It’s OK. I don’t mind at all. Really.”

I was stunned. There was something about his tone, and the way he looked at me, that made me wonder if he had personal experience with autism. Maybe a younger brother, or a friend. And I wish I had stopped to tell him how much his kindness meant to me, but I was still flustered, and still hoping that we weren’t holding things up for the people behind us, so I didn’t. But it one of those moments that I won’t forget. That night before the ice storm, when an unlikely person showed me some much-needed mercy.

A Month Without Walmart

At the end of 2013, Ryan and I decided that we were going to make a commitment to stop shopping at Walmart, and start shopping at a local grocery store, instead, and see what happened. The reasons were varied, but they boiled to one point…you just don’t feel good about yourself when you’re at Walmart.

So, we’ve been a whole month without setting foot in that giant store (New Year’s Eve morning was the last time I was there). And, for the most part, it’s been very liberating. I like shopping at Schnucks…the employees are friendlier, the store is calmer, and, for the most part, the quality of the items is better.

I say for the most part because I’ve run into one problem at Schnucks…buying meat. From beef to chicken to pork, the meat is quite a bit more expensive, which I figured it would be. But, we’ve also found that surprisingly, the quality is less, and I can’t even get all of the cuts of meat I was used to purchasing (frequently) at Walmart.

The meat department is the only one that I can say that about. The produce department has better quality fruits and vegetables, and, for the most part, the prices are comparable. Same goes for dairy and frozen, and even when the prices are higher, I don’t mind it, because I feel that I’m getting better quality food.

But the meat department leaves something to be desired. So what do we do?

I think we’ve decided that once a month, I’ll go to Walmart and buy all of the meat we need for the month. The beef brisket I make every year on the Fourth of July is only available at Walmart, anyway, so I already knew I’d have to go there and buy meat at some point…it wasn’t ever going to be a complete divorce from the store (I also knew that I will continue buying the girls’ tights there, because they honestly have the best quality, most durable tights I’ve ever found). This is going to further change how we budget and shop, because I’m going to need to figure out what we need ahead of time, or base our meals on whatever it is that I’ve already bought. I think it’s a good compromise though…I’ll still be shopping at Walmart very rarely, and still patronizing Schnucks as much as possible, but I’ll also be able to get the things we need.

I don’t mind paying more for better quality and better service. Even though we had to rework the grocery budget a bit, and change what kind of things we buy, I was happy to do that to receive those things from Schnucks in return…and have the knowledge that I was supporting a local business. But I can’t see paying more money for something of a lesser quality. So, Walmart hasn’t completely released us from its grasp. But, if I ever find a store with higher quality meat (that is in the realm of affordability), you can believe that I’ll be shopping there instead!