This post isn’t just a love letter to Trader Joe’s, although it could be.
But it’s important for perspective that I tell you how much I love Trader Joe’s – so much that at least once a month we head to the nearest location to buy things we really, really need like jars of lemon curd and marinated artichoke hearts.
(Of course no one needs either of those things, but stay with me.)
The nearest location is about 45 minutes away, but I find this time investment to be worth it – we just buy a few of each of all of the things we “need,” and usually that math works out OK.
Occasionally I find myself guarding the last jar of Hatch Valley Salsa like it’s my bear cub in a cave, but everyone has come to understand that mommy needs salsa, and mommy is nicer when you don’t take her salsa.
(Again, “need” is subjective here. Also, so is “nice.”)
The thing about taking two kids on a 90-minute round trip once a month is that it’s a great time to do a little car learning.
I usually make sure we have a good audiobook ready, or some podcast episodes saved up.
The kids bring books and Kindles and notebooks and pens, and it’s actually quite nice. Forty-five minutes is a great amount of time for tweens – no one has to potty, and we’re on a highway, so there’s plenty of license plates to point out if everyone is paying attention.
(Sometimes everyone else isn’t and you win 14-0-0. Suck it, kids.)
Something else to know about our family, besides that we go through a lot of tortillas in a month, is that it’s emerging that at least 3 of us are introverts. I have been for a long time, but it’s hard to tell with kids, isn’t it?
Kids need attention, they need love, and they need boxes of Cheese Rocket crackers opened while you are in the shower. Kids don’t really get “privacy,” and so it can be hard to tell right away if you have extroverts, or if you just have children.
But it starting to seem like I have two introverts, which is interesting.
(And I’m just going to say it – go Kara genes! Way to dominate!)
I’ve begun to see the benefits of us ALL having a few minutes alone each day, and I’m starting to feel OK with expecting it. Instead of calling it “Quiet Time,” I now call it “Introvert Hour.”
That change in context has not only stopped the arguing – (but MOM – I neeeeeed you) – it’s also ended the mom-guilt. I am not the only person in my family who benefits from a few minutes to read a book, watch a show alone or pet a cat.
And that is AWESOME.
So this week, when we packed up for Trader Joe’s, I had an idea – what if the kids would be fine without me planning audio entertainment for them? What if instead, I made it a point to listen to what I wanted to hear?
In a larger context, I’ve been wondering lately what’s better – to “force” things – say, an audiobook – or to choose my own joy and let that help carry us through our days?
We all know that mama’s mindset is incredibly powerful, right? Is it also more valuable than making a pouting/fuming kid listen to a book they’re not interested in?
In turns out that on this day, at least, it was. While the kids listened to music and books of their choosing, I binged on the Fountains of Carrots podcast.
We all arrived feeling calm, joyful, and the kids were especially helpful in shopping. My oldest remembered two boxes of his beloved fish nuggets, while my daughter concocted a plan to score a second panini sample – (“This is going to work, Mama. Besides – you don’t eat turkey anyway!”).
It was a fun, fast trip, where we managed not to forget anything, and also not to impulse buy 14 boxes of Jo-Joe’s.
It also got me thinking – in what ways can we choose our own joy each day? And how can that help our homeschools?
Are there ways it can replace the urge to push?
Here’s what I decided:
Sometimes homeschooling is very easy, and sometimes homeschooling is very hard, and sometimes we make what should be very easy very hard in the name of “doing it right.”
Let’s stop doing that, OK?
A few things for you:
- We have a new episode up of The Homeschool Sisters Podcast on Tuesday you be able to find it here as soon as it’s up! And did you hear us on the Brave Writer’s Life in Brief Podcast?
- Also, I’m still in love with Chasing Slow. In honor of that book, I bring you two lists:
Things I always buy at Trader Joe’s:
- Almond butter
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- Canned beans
- Lemon curd
- Olive oil
- Curry powder
- Kerrygold butter
- Frozen fried rice
- Macarons or other frozen Poetry Tea Time Treats
- Fish nuggets
- Tater tots
- Seeds and nuts
- Freeze-dried fruit
- Dill pickle popcorn*
- Cinnamon-vanilla tea*
- Something new, just to try it
- Fresh flowers
New podcasts that I’m loving
- Fountains of Carrots
- Brave Writer’s Life in Brief (back for a second season!)
- Missing Richard Simmons
- Holy Writ Podcast
- Serial Killers
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