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The boys and I decided to really have some fun last night while Ron was out of town; we went to the commissary.

Yes, that’s right. Instead of going to see the new "Transformers" movie as I had suggested, we hopped in the car and headed for Fort Belvoir to stock up on ice cream and other summer essentials.

Believe it or not, it was Jimmy’s idea to skip the movie and go on-base instead. I wanted to see the movie, go out for ice cream and pick up a gallon of milk on the way home.

My oldest son, on the other hand, realized that if we were out of milk, we were probably running out of other things, such as bread and bananas. He was right, of course.

I wasn’t overly concerned about the situation because Ron wasn’t home to grumble about the empty cupboards. For the boys and I, that had never been a big problem in the past.

With Subway, McDonald’s and virtually every other fast food restaurant on earth within a five-mile radius of our home, they are usually as happy as I am to get take-out food.

But for some reason, Jimmy was in the mood to go shopping.

So off we went to the commissary on a Saturday night when I wanted to be at the movies.

Once we hit the road, it felt sort of good to be heading in the opposite direction of everyone else, who appeared to be going out for an evening of fun.

The commissary was so deserted that our voices echoed off the walls as we flashed out IDs. It was a little bit spooky.

With all three boys in tow, my goal was to get through there as quickly as possible so they couldn’t double my grocery bill.

The problem that arises when Jimmy, Tommy and Ronnie accompany me to the commissary has nothing to do with them trying to sneak goodies into the cart. The truth of the matter is that they’re a bad influence on me.

The last time we all went grocery shopping together, I came home with five different types of ice cream and three boxes of Lucky Charms!

That sort of thing never happens when Ron goes shopping, with or without the kids. He sticks to a carefully prepared list and may allow them to talk him into an extra gallon of ice cream.

I lack his organization skills and self-control, which results in lots of forgotten items and last-minute impulse buys. Over the course of our marriage, it has gotten to become such an issue that he does the grocery shopping about half the time.

Every other week, he goes to the commissary and stocks up on staples, such as canned goods and meat. The rest of the time we dine on whatever the boys and I happen to be in the mood for.

Last night, I was hoping we could get by on Apple Jacks and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches long enough for Ron to come home and make the dreaded trip to the usually crowded commissary.

But Jimmy had the good sense to panic when he realized we had no milk and only three pieces of bread. He even had good timing when he suggested we go on a Saturday night after everyone else had done their shopping.

Now that it’s Sunday morning, I’m glad we got that chore over with instead of spending last night at the movies. When Ron comes home tonight, he’ll be in for a shock to discover green lettuce instead of brown in the fridge and bananas on the table.

Maybe he’ll be so surprised he won’t notice all the ice cream in the freezer.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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