When I take Annabel with me on errands, I will sometimes tell her she can pick out one small treat, but only if she’s well-behaved. At the beginning of every shopping trip she asks me about “choosing a present,” and I always remind her that it’s entirely dependent on her behavior. The good news is that she not only works hard to keep her unpredictable three-year-old mood swings in check, but she also forgets about getting a toy about 85% of the time.

When Annie does remember, I either take her to the quarter vending machines at the grocery store, or to the dollar section at Target. I prefer the dollar section because even though it means I’m spending $.75 more cents, the items there are random and what Annie picks out is always hilarious.

Some of the things she’s chosen include:

sandwich box

A sandwich box.


A frisbee.

sleep mask

A sleep mask that says Study Break.

oven mitts

And oven mitts.

She always has elaborate plans for each item, which makes me happy. She’s going to “have a big game of frisbee with all of my friends!” Even though she’s never played frisbee before. She now insists on packing a sandwich into the box every day (getting her to eat it is not as easy as you’d think, though). She told me that the sleep mask will “help me see the stars when I’m camping!” And the oven mitts? “Mama, I’m a pancake maker!”

The cheap items give her hours of entertainment, which is awesome. I also like that she always passes over the candy and cookies in the dollar section. More cookies and candies for me!

The day she realizes the grocery store and Target have their own toy aisles, though…I’m screwed.