Tag Archives: meijer

I’m not kidding.

In the year of our Lord, 2013, on the 10th day of the 6th month,

(Monday, People. This past Monday.)

I loaded my children in the van and headed West.

After 35 minutes of bliss tempered by Babe on the DVD, we stopped at Meijer to buy a gift. Our friends, you see, had just returned from a land far, far away with a new babe and were in need of a highchair. I offered our own, but an evening of Abby throwing spaghetti quickly solidified her need of meal-time restraint for a few months more.

A NEW high chair, we all squealed! It will be a surprise!

Now, you are aware that Meijer is frequently the setting for Mulder miracles-

there was the incident with the fish,

and then the lady in the parking lot,

and who can forget Pam?

This morning would prove no different.


There were 2 choices: a minor choice and a major choice… and I left it up to the eldest. “Which do you pick, Rylie? Which one should we bring?”

She, of course, picked the major choice… because she is of my genes.

At the checkout, the kind teller rang up our purchases: the highchair, 2 bags of m&ms, a box of baby wipes (ABBY JUNE) and some emergency bananas. He sang out my total.

I tilted my head.

“Erm… did you beep the highchair in the cart here? I didn’t put it on the conveyor belt.”

“I did.”

*blank stare*

“Well, can I just see the receipt to make sure?”

He smiled and turned his monitor to face me. “See? Right here. Looks like it’s on sale. For basically nothing.”

“Yes and thank you. We’ll be seeing you in heaven.”

And off we went, with our beautiful brand-new gift for a beautiful, new-to-them baby starting a beautiful, brand-new life with a beautiful, lovely family.

Meijer, sometimes you are magic.

Gus Man

We passed on the gift (and m&ms) with much, MUCH glee and were quickly on our way back to the farm. As a reward for 2 hours of driving plus a trip to the grocery store, I pulled into McDonalds to let my herd frolic on the play land. It was a remarkable day, after all, and the kids were doing so very well.

Until they weren’t.

Until Gideon ripped off his socks and stuffed them down the webbing holes of the tunnel, never to be seen again.

Until Abby grabbed my Coke and poured it on herself.

Until Rylie decided she would take another girl’s shoes home.

Until Gideon told her she couldn’t.

Until Rylie smacked him with the force of an undiscovered fly-weight.

Until Gideon bit her on the arm and bolted through the emergency door in the play land, initiating a piercing BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! and lockdown sequence for all the lucky customers.

People, I did not even flinch. I grabbed all three shoeless children by their collars and marched them out to the van, alarms still flaring in the background.

Ry and Coco

I locked Abby in her seat. I nudged Gideon to GET MOVING, and his little legs began to climb in the van.

Which exposed his superhero undies waistband at eye-level with Rylie.

Who instinctively and with the vengeance of a girl scorned, bit him squarely on the butt.


Oh, we are not finished.

Before I could summon Jesus to return, my eldest pulled away from her brother’s buns in fear… because her mouth was pouring blood.

What is this madness, you ask?

Quite simple, Friends.


Her wiggly tooth that had been tormenting her for days… the tooth came out as she bit her brother. And so, she wailed.

We cannot go back inside to use the restroom because, well, see above. We can only go home. We can only go home- a mother, stoic, with her 3 whimpering children in the backseats.

We can only go home and THINK ABOUT WHAT WE’VE DONE for a good, long time.


Let us mark that establishment as yet another parking lot we shall never grace again.

Happy weekend to you, Dears.

May your socks be dry and your drinks strong.


checking out

The day before we left for our annual camping trip in Sleeping Bear Dunes last week, a friend stopped by with her son.  “Go do your grocery shopping,”  she instructed.  “Leave the kids.”  And so I did.  I DID.  I needed to outfit the freezers with house-sitter options and I needed 9 days of cooler-camping food.  My list was long.  My friend is an angel.

I ended up with a cart overflowing with 2 weeks worth of goods.  In fact, when the checker re-organized my cart into bags, I had to find a second cart.  So, there’s me… standing there with no kids and 2 full grocery carts and a long line of people behind me waiting for their turn.  I’m trying to load the 47 bags and pay and sign and hit all the right buttons and just leave, for pete’s sake, when the man behind me taps me on the shoulder.


He is old… pushing 75 on a good day.  He’s wearing overalls and a ball cap and a serious twinkle in his eye.  His wife is tapping her foot impatiently while fanning herself with her STAR magazine.

“I’m sorry,” I apologize. “I’m trying to get…”

“Ma’am?” he asks again,  brushing aside my apology. “Ma’am, I’m going to help you push your carts out to your car.  Pam? Pam… Imma walk this young lady out, ok?”

Pam, still fanning herself, doesn’t even look my way.  She just waves her other hand and dismisses him.  I don’t really like Pam, I decide.

I’ve had 3 seconds to process it all when I hear myself saying, “Well, I can’t take you home, ok? You won’t fit with all these groceries.  But if you want to help me, I sure would appreciate the company.”

“Well, I’d sure like to.  I would.  I’ll push as far as I can.”  And so this sweet old farmer- a stranger- and I hike out to my van on a 100°+ day like we’ve known each other for ages.  It takes a very, very long time.

He doesn’t say much.  Just smiles and wobbles behind me.  I could be his grand-daughter.  I’d like to be his grand-daughter.  Once we reach the van, he grabs my hands, kisses them, and tells me to have a good day.  And then he wobbles back in to Meijer.

I would have thought it was all a dream, really… if I hadn’t run into him (and Pam) again this Monday in the produce section.  All three kids were in-tow and we were loud.  Abby is done with this trip.  Ry wants to open a box of cereal.  And Gus… Gus has stolen a kiwi and is about to take a bite when Sweet Old Farmer jumps (?) out from behind the display and scares him right out of his saggy little britches.  I think the Sweet Old Farmer might fall down from laughing so hard.  He holds his stomach when he laughs.  I think he’s perfect.

I smiled a big smile and said, “Hello! Hi! How are you?”  But there was no recognition in his eyes.

“He doesn’t remember, Honey,” Pam chimed in from behind the green peppers, snapping a plastic produce bag open.  “He doesn’t remember, but I do.  Thank you for letting him help.  And, thank you for letting him play with your kids.”

She waved a quick goodbye and pulled her husband by the shirt-sleeve.  Onward.  We wrangled our chaos over to the checkout and paid, kiwi and all.  But I can’t stop thinking about that Sweet Old Farmer.

And, Pam.

I kind of like Pam, I decide.

What IS it with this Meijer?  Remember Rylie and the fish?  And the lady in the parking lot?  I’m beginning to wonder if the Greenville Meijer is prone to Wonder? Magic always seems to happen there.  Now, disaster and wailing happen there, too… but maybe, just maybe,

There’s more Amazing around us than we think.



My father is off hunting today with some guys from Lansing. I’m really ok with the fact that he has more friends than I do.

Let’s talk about these Letters to Rylie. Your response to them is so encouraging. I have always expressed myself best in writing. Please take this into account upon meeting me. Writing is very safe and requires little eye contact. When Rylie was born, I wanted very much to keep track of the little things and the big things, but I am not the ‘baby book’ kind of girl. Letters seemed most natural. I put them in a real envelope with a real stamp and I mail them… back to her. Someday, I’ll give her a box and she’ll be able to see the postage and my handwriting and read a little of what her life was like through my eyes.

Words are powerful. Handwriting is scarce these days and will be even more so when our kiddos are grown. I encourage you to do some writing of your own. Start now. Send postcards or letters or concert tickets. Save the envelopes in a box or photo album dedicated to your little one so they are easily found. Letters are concrete pieces of time. Don’t try too hard. You don’t have to be a poet or funny or spell well… you just have to write. Go for it.

Dear Rylie,

You and and I grocery shop on Tuesdays after your therapy pre-school… around 10:30am. The store is relatively empty, which helps with my sanity and also allows you to run through the aisles with wild abandon. This is also the time that a small group of special-needs adults shops with their mentors. Always with lists in hand, they buy their food for the week and chat about what’s on tv that night. We’ve come to recognize almost everyone.

In the back of our store is a set of aquariums where hundreds of fish swim round and round. You love these fish. Every one of them. FSSSSSSSS, you say. It’s awesome.

I have little pride when it come to you, Dearest. Two weeks ago, I found myself lying on the floor of the milk aisle prying you loose from the bottom of the cart. You wanted to be where the dog food was… and got seriously stuck. A better mom would have prevented this entire scene… but you do the funniest things, Child! Whatever you need. Anytime. Last Tuesday, we headed to the back to see the fssssssssss. We slowly walked around the kiosk, carefully looking in each tank of fish. When we got back to the beginning of our circle, you crouched down in your catcher’s squat and began tugging violently at my jeans. You wanted me to join you… down there. Whatever you need. Anytime.

We sat there for a good 5 minutes, Ry. Me and you. Watching the fsssssss. Pointing at the fssssss. Clapping for the fsssssssss. Our claps were much louder than I expected. As I turned around, I found that 3 of our Special Friends had joined us on the floor. And there we all were. Taking a break. Cheering for Nemo. Sitting on a nasty floor in Meijer with not a care in the world.

I, of course, started crying. First, because you’re awesome and then because of our sweet ‘guests’ and then because of the nasty floor. You’re amazing, Ry. Technically, you are still a year behind your peers in motor and speech skills. But you continue to thrive in your own little world. You make me do things I never thought I would, you make me think things I never thought I could, and you make me a better person for all of it. Thanks for bringing up to your level.

Love, Mamma

parking lots

I try to grocery shop only once a week. Rylie has reached the age of recognizing boxes and their contents… and the fruit section- well, that’s a whole other beast. I leave with half my groceries already open and bananas with teeth marks in them. You know what I’m sayin’.

A month ago, I unloaded my cart into my trunk, returned the cart, and strapped Rylie in- all while keeping tabs on a woman having an apparent argument on her cell phone. She was barely 50 years old, pushing a full cart of groceries, and crying. As I got in my steaming car, I turned to reverse and saw her standing 2 rows over with her phone now closed and her head in her hands. Sighing, I got out and yelled a bit abruptly, “Are you ok?”

She turned toward my voice and looked at me with pure panic in her eyes.

“I’m lost,” she said. “I have Alzheimer’s and I can’t find my car. I don’t know where I am.”

I stared at her, shocked. Tears choked my throat as everything around me stopped. Parking lot- gone. Schedule- gone. Frustration- gone. I smiled as big as I could and said, “We can figure this out! Hang on one second.” I unbuckled Rylie and headed over. She handed me a small address book.

“I wrote every person I know down in this book in case this ever happened. It’s their number and how I know them… in case I forget. I’ve just never forgotten before. I’ve never… it’s never been like this before.”

I realized I was looking at a woman whose life was falling apart. This would likely be the last day she drove alone. The last time she went grocery shopping without a detailed list. The last time she would be independent. She handed me the little book- her lifeline.

“Alright… we’re at the grocery store in Greenville. Do you live in town?”


“Great. And you’re sure you drove a car today?”


“Ok. How ’bout Matt here? He’s your mechanic and it says ‘good friend’ next to him.”

“Yes! Matt knows my car!”

“Alright. Let’s call Matt.”

She dialed and I listened as she cried, but with less panic now, and explained the situation. When she got off the phone, she told me Matt was on his way and then described her car to me. We found it a couple rows over, but I walked her to a bench with her cart and left her smiling and calm outside the entrance, waiting for her friend. I was, you see, just the middle man… my job was done.

Honestly, I don’t have a super-great nature. I’m crabby when I’m hot (and sometimes when it’s pleasant outside), and I can’t seem to put laundry away in the same week it comes out of the dryer. I battle the demon of depression daily, I am slow to compliment others, and I’d eat popcorn for dinner every night if left to my own defenses. We all have things like this… I know. But for those short 15 minutes in that parking lot, I was almost good. I could feel it. I was more of the person I want to be… more like the God who made me. I’ve no doubt my actions were in large part because my child was in the backseat and deep down I wanted her to see what I can be when I really try. When I pay attention. When I forget myself. The Big Man continues to make me a better person through her. Thank God for her.

I just want to remind you to take your time. To look around. To smile at strangers and to share hurt. To do what you can when you can. I know it’s an impossible task, but we can try. And on those rare days when we succeed, we can celebrate with each other the absolute joy that floats up to the top of our little worlds.

That’s for you, Trace… the person who loves to hear about good and hope and possibility.

Daisy photos: un-edited and taken by yours truly one stunning morning in my kitchen.