For those of you who have never had the blessing of a Chick-Fil-A sandwich, let me tell you two things: 1. YOU ARE MISSING OUT! and 2. every chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A has three pickles, unless specifically requested without (and to that, I ask, “WHY? WHY WOULD YOU MESS WITH A GOOD THING?”) You can imagine how many pickles a restaurant like the free standing unit at which Jonathan works, which sells upward of three to four thousand sandwiches in a day, consumes. They literally buy them in five gallon pails.
Just before I left for Canada, I expressed a desire for large plastic containers in which to store toys. When I got home there were five white pickle pails waiting for me. Now remember, these are pails that had pickles and brine on the inside, and were stored in a restaurant that fries chicken in peanut oil 16 hours a day, so you can imagine what the inside smelled like, and the outside looked like. I put them in my guest shower with some hot soapy water and a lot of elbow grease, and I scrubbed. Last night I left them upside down on the porch to dry and this morning I spray painted them. (Yes, I used spray paint for plastic.)
I quickly realized that spray paint was not the material for this purpose, but my front living room was ankle deep in small animals and little people of varying sizes and merchandising licenses (in fact, Anakin Skywalker was resting his head on Dora’s lap, the last I spotted them) and I was motivated to rectify the situation. Once the paint (uneven and patchy as it was) had dried, I brought the pails in, labeled them with sticky foam letters, and filled one with animals, one with people and one with accessories (Dora’s ladder, the fences for the zoo, the beds and chairs for the tiny doll house . . . you get the idea.)
I was so proud. I felt so accomplished.
Until the mackerdoodle, holding the fisher price zoo in one hand, looked at the pickle bucket, looked at me and said, “Mama, where the polar bear go?”
On to plan B.
I emptied the pickle buckets. (It pained me to do so, but organization only works if it works. If you know what I mean.) I sorted the items into any specific groups that the mackerdoodle likes to keep together – the zoo animals, Dora and her entourage and the family and accessories for the little doll house – and put everything that didn’t fit into those categories back into the pickle buckets. I then took a picture of each of the larger home for these three sets. I printed each picture (YAY for digital cameras and color printers) and taped them over the labels of three Folgers Ground Coffee canisters.
With the mackerdoodle’s help this time, we transferred the toys into the matching canister. Sadly this left Anakin in a pickle bucket and Dora in a coffee tin, but I don’t think he was a good influence on her anyway, so it’s probably for the best.
Once the new organizational system was established, the mackerdoodle looked at me, a lizard in one hand and a small doll in the other. She said “mmmmmmm. smells like pickle.”