Tag Archives: shopping

And the stars aligned…

… at the mall, anyway!

I did some shopping today, with the goal of purchasing these things:

1) A tie-out chain for Bailey.  We have one but it’s too short, and until our yard is fenced in, well, she does OK staying in close range but she’s getting braver, and we only live about 4 houses away from a pretty busy street.

2) A curtain rod and curtains for the sliding glass door in our dining room, which is now painted Tomato Bisque.  It looks like a pumpkin.  But considering my big holiday to host here is Thanksgiving it will work beautifully.

3) Some sort of warmish shirt in bright yellow for Lane.  She is going to be Belle for Halloween.  Having suffered the anguish as a child, growing up in Buffalo more Halloweens than not of having to wear my winter coat over my Halloween costume, it is one of my goals as a cool-ish sort of mom to help my kids avoid having to cover their Halloween costumes with winter coats as much as is reasonably possible.  When I could pick their costumes I would pick warm ones, with head coverings.  Which is why this year Jake is Cookie Monster, complete with hood with googly eyes on top.  Lane’s dress is decidedly NOT cool-weather friendly.

4) Tights for Lane, as she is a girl enamored with wearing dresses and skirts.

Usually when I head out of the house with a list like this, I find like two of the four things, nothing close to one of the things despite going to seventeen different potential stores, and then so many choices for another thing that I get overwhelmed and my brain shuts down.

I am pleased as punch to report I was able to successfully, satisfactorily check off every item on my list!

The tie-out was at Home Depot, which I knew because that’s where I bought the first one.  I grabbed the last one on the shelf.  :whew:

The curtain rod and curtains I bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  The rod is OK, it’s not exactly what I had in mind but it didn’t break the bank and it matches the chandelier in the dining room well enough.  The curtains are sort of a shiny sort of material, with subtle embroidered flowers, they are dark brown and simply lovely.  I can’t wait to get them up.  I, with more forethought than usual, took a painted sample of the paint with me for comparison purposes, so I’m fairly confident the whole ensemble is going to look pretty nice in the room, and the curtains contrast a lot so they’re pretty certain to pop without being loud.  I’m pleased.

The tights I got at Old Navy, the first store we went looking for them.  I like to buy thick tights, like cotton tights, rather than the thinner microfiber tights, and Old Navy was a fairly safe bet for those.  I got three pairs that I am very happy with.

Old Navy also came through with a shirt for under the Belle dress.  I found there in the girls’ section a selection of microfiber hoodies in a vast array of colors, one being nearly the same yellow of the Belle dress.  The hoodie may be just a little more bright but it will do!  It’s big enough that I can smack a couple extra layers down underneath it, and thin enough that even with a couple layers it will fit under the dress, which has some room to spare on Lane’s lanky frame.  Actually, Lane has a pretty thin Thinsulate winter coat that I think would fit under the hoodie, and then under the dress too.  If needed we can bundle her up quite a bit without committing the awful child fashion faux pas that is a coat-over-a-Halloween-costume, and yet still maintaining the full color theme.  And, as a bonus, a yellow hood to keep her ears warm if she starts getting cold!  I could not have been more giddy to find a suitable option.

Thus, I am sitting here typing this feeling oddly content with life.  Not from the shopping and spending money (because not counting the window treatments I didn’t spend very much… and even on the window treatments I stayed like $40 under my spending limit in my head) but just because I actually set out to get a couple things done today and got them all done.  Yay.


A blessing and a curse

Jake is just incredibly sociable.  He smiles and interacts with everyone, and is rarely anything but a complete pleasure when we are out and about.

For that, I am certainly grateful.  It’s definitely fun to run errands with him.  It can certainly be easy to be productive and efficient with him along.

But at the same time, his being so darned cute and affable can be a hindrance.  And not because of him, really.  Because of other people.  He draws people in, makes them like him, makes them feel special with his smile and eye contact.  Certainly this is a great talent, and if he learns to use it well it will be an asset to him in nearly any career he chooses.  But now, I love it and could use to turn it off occasionally.  We hit Costco and the supermarket today, and I couldn’t go more than ten minutes in either store without someone impeding our progress.  I heard about how adorable he is.  Jake got four different games of peek-a-boo.  “He looks like a doll.”  “He’s so happy.”

I try not to get annoyed by it.  I’m fairly certain the people who seek out interacting with me, or with him, it’s to fulfill a social need of theirs, or something.  And naturally I love hearing how cute and sweet and happy my kids are.  But after a while, man, I just want to eat my Costco slice of pizza and find the best dates on the yogurt and get on with my day… before the little cute happy guy gets hungry or tired and isn’t nearly as charming anymore.


I somehow managed to spend nearly 3 hours grocery shopping today.  I cannot quite figure out how I entered the store around 5:20 and left the store at 7:55.

Well, there ARE clues.

I let Lane help a lot.  I let her do a lot of asking for things.  Luckily she isn’t automatically drawn to only awful-for-you stuff.  Yes, in the juice aisle we ended up with some juice solely because Elmo was on the label, and we ended up with Cap’n Crunch when I hadn’t planned on buying it.  But the juice was 100% juice, the Cap’n Crunch was on sale, so I can live with it.  And luckily for every one thing I say “yes” to, it buys me about ten “no’s”.  So I was able to say no to the bag of flour, and the Kosher anchovies, and the pineapple, and the Diet Snapple, and the feta cheese, and the little loaf of tiny bread for making finger food, and the cradle cap treatment baby shampoo, among other things, and she happily put each thing back where she found it (I think).  Occasionally she even spots something we need, although completely by chance.  I forgot to put bread crumbs on the list, and she happened to grab a can of bread crumbs.   But regardless, there was a lot of that.

Lane also contributed some periods of inertia.  The times where she just refused to move, for various reasons.  For example, the requirement that she wear both shoes through the store seemed especially contrary to her sensibilities today.  However, I’m the mom and I’m the boss, and the grocery store has rules.

Jake was there, but since he is the most mellow, cool dude in the history of the world, he spent most of the trip sitting in the shopping cart, one arm slung over the back of his seat, randomly babbling and smiling and flirting with the ladies.  He ate some cheese at the deli counter.  When the stuff in the cart got high enough for him to reach, he would take stuff out and inspect them, visually, tactilely, and gustatorily.   OK, so his flirting does often slow us down a little.  Most grocery trips I have to pause a dozen times while someone coos over him and asks me how old he is and what’s his name and tell me how he is just so cute and agreeable, and today was no different.  Kind souls, they usually try to engage Lane as well, but since she’d rather talk to a shrub than a strange person you can imagine how successful they usually are.

I definitely lost some time at checkout.  Our stellar checkout person, whose name was Prince but I’m guessing that isn’t literal, remembered to give me the 12¢ credit for my 6 reusable grocery bags but forgot to ask me for my shopper’s club card.  Sure, all the blame does not lie with him, I could have easily remembered to give it to him, too.  But I was managing two kids, and doing some bagging, and assuring him he could put more than three things in my reusable grocery bags, (and I do believe they are made of some space-age polymer because though they are a year old, they still look like I bought them yesterday despite the abuse they have received since then).  Also, might I point out, the whole checking people out is his job, and according to the front end manager who scolded him after she told me I had to go to Customer Service, he’s supposed to ask me twice for my card over the course of the transaction – once when he first starts ringing me out and once before I pay.  Ha ha, “Prince”, I got you in trouble.
Were we talking about saving 50¢  on one item I could have let it go… but I figured it was like $6 that Prince was trying to cheat me out of, so for HIS mistake I got to spend like 10 minutes at Customer Service while they went through my receipt and the sales circular to figure out how much they owed me.  It came to $6.24 so I was pretty close.

Still, it felt like I’d been there maybe 90 minutes by the time the car was loaded up with two kids and nine bags of groceries, so imagine my shock to find that nearly 3 hours had passed.  It’s going to be a couple of days before the bruise on my chin heals.

Needless to say, my plans to cook were out the window, and we had take-out for dinner.

The physics of feet

How is it possible that shoes that seemed comfortable and awesome yesterday when I bought them were tight and weird and chaffing today?  I hate that.  And it’s not that bought-the-shoes-in-the-morning thing; I tried these bad boys on at 5:30 p.m.

So disappointing.

Luckily I only wore them for about 2 minutes before I realized they weren’t going to work out, so exchanging them for the pair I knew I should have bought instead shouldn’t be a problem.  Too bad that other pair is $30 more.

Shoes are a continuing source of angst in my life.  You see, I am a woman with size 11 feet.  If you’re a guy I’m sure that means nothing to you, so let me just say my feet are honkin’ big and my shoe size is not all that common.  I feel fortunate, at least, that they did not get any bigger with having kids – if anything they got a bit smaller.  (Yes, pregnancy can make your feet bigger.  Maybe you need a bigger base to support the bigger boobs you can end up with.)  Regardless, finding stylish, attractive, comfortable shoes is not an easy proposition when most shoe manufacturers seem to be in denial that women’s feet could be anything bigger than a 9.  Yes, yes, most shoes go up to a size 10, but even those are pretty scarce if you want to find them.  But 11 is even more scarce.

Sometimes I get lucky.  I found a website trying to clear out inventory of my running shoes, and the only sizes they had left were 6’s and 11’s, so I just got in the mail a second pair of running shoes for half of what I paid for my first pair.  That made me happy.

But mostly, shoe shopping is often an exercise in frustration.  I like to shop at DSW Shoe Warehouse – not necessarily because they carry a ton of shoes that come in a size 11, but because all their shoes are out on the sales floor and you look for the sizes yourself.  There’s nothing more annoying than being in a ‘normal’ shoe store or shoe department in a department store and picking out five shoes you like, only to have the salesperson come back snickering, 20 minutes after going back to look for your shoes, “I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t have any of these styles in your size.”  In other words, get out of here, Sasquatch, before I call out a hunting party.  (I will say Norstrom’s is a delightful exception to that.  They regularly carry size 11’s in their shoes.)

Anyway, at least I know when I go back tomorrow, there is an alternate pair to be had, and hopefully they will not disappoint.

Old-school outlet shopping

Remember when outlet shopping first hit the scene, like 25 years ago (or maybe even longer)?  If you don’t or you were too young, let me share.  Outlets were a place where manufacturers could dump their surpluses, their leftovers, their slightly irregulars, and you could get monster bargains.  The stores themselves were bare-bones.  Stuff was often in piles vs. hung up, or if it was hung up the racks were looooooooooong and in rows.  You had to work a bit to find what you were looking for, but if you found it, ka-ching!

Then outlet shopping got “big”.  The demand for outlet shopping surpassed the supply of leftovers and slightly irregulars.  Every locale wanted to have an outlet mall.  Outlet malls because tourist destinations.

So now, there are outlet malls all over the place, and they simply aren’t what they used to be.  Heck, they don’t even come close to fitting the mold of the outlet mall I knew from my youth.  Outlet malls are just like regular malls now, save two features:

  1. The stores are arranged by manufacturer rather than vendor.  E.g., instead of Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc. you have Calvin Klein, Jones New York, etc.
  2. Outlet malls can get away with being outdoor even in cold weather climates, because they are “bargain” malls and they can’t afford roofs, or something.

We took a trip yesterday to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, which is a half-hour from our house.  (All the outlet malls these days are “Premium Outlets”.  Maybe that’s where the difference is.)  But, aside from having to bundle up between stores, I don’t much get how the merchandise, or the prices, are much different than if I walked into any cookie-cutter mall in North America.  (Mexico excluded, I assume.  But I’ve never been there, maybe they have awesome malls.  My apologies to Mexico if I’m making an ass of you and me.)

There are, of course, exceptions.  The Stride Rite outlet is well-known to be a harbinger of good deals on quality children’s shoes.  It is the sole reason we made the trek to Woodbury.   (Well, officially I think it’s Harriman or Central Valley.  Woodbury is a town or two over; I guess Woodbury sounds more hoity-toity than Harriman.)  Jake is sporting himself a size 5.5 XW shoe size these days.  In layman’s speak, he has duck feet.  Therefore I cannot get him shoes at Target, because the ping-pong paddles he has for dogs simply won’t fit into their affordable shoes.  Stride Rite, therefore, is the only place I can in good conscience outfit his feet.  However, if you walk into a Stride Rite at your local mall and ask for an affordable pair of shoes, they will laugh at you.  I think it is store policy.  Stride Rite shoes regularly sell for $45-60 in the regular mall.  However, yesterday we got Jake two pairs of shoes — a pair of sandals for our trip to Aruba and a pair of sneakers — for $50.  Still not Target-cheap, but a vast improvement over mall prices.

The other exception is The Children’s Place.  While they have some regular priced merchandise around the perimeter, their store is largely filled with what I’m guessing is regular-store clearance stuff that they want to get out of the regular stores, for awesome prices.  Yesterday we got four or five assorted sweaters and fleece tops, a couple pairs of socks, a couple pairs of tights, a pack of underwear, a pair of mittens, a winter hat, and a pair of pants for $23.

And we found a few other deals, which I won’t bore you with.  But, I can find deals at my regular mall.

Some stores are blatantly just copies of the stores in the regular mall.  Disney and Bose come to mind.  Same stuff, same prices.  Outlet location.  And for the life of me I cannot figure out the difference between Carter’s and Carter’s outlets now.  Even a few years ago, there was a difference.  Now… not so much.

All in all, yesterday was a fun day, we hung out as a family and accomplished our primary objective of shoes for Jake, so I’m not complaining.  I could have lived without Lane’s poop accident (which necessitated the purchase of pants and underwear at The Children’s Place) but otherwise, good day.

All this, and I get to pay to shop there!

I have a serious love/hate relationship with Costco.

For those of you who don’t have one in your area, Costco is a big warehouse store, akin to Sam’s Club or BJ’s (what WERE they thinking when they picked that name?!?).

Costco, 95% of the time, rocks my world.   They have a 3-pack of 1% organic milk for $7.99.   They have great store-brand diapers.  You can get a roasted whole chicken for $5.  Pineapples are usually $2.99.  The Costco near us also sells gas, which regularly is 20-30¢ cheaper than the other purveyors.  Costco also had big shopping carts, with two kid seats where any other shopping cart I’ve ever come across only has one, thus allowing me to contain both kiddos in full view.  Employees there are generally helpful and friendly and seem to like working there, which upgrades the shopping experience.  Oh, I could go on.  But I won’t because this is probably already getting sort of boring.  So I won’t even get started on the $1.50 giant-hot-dog-and-a-drink meal.

Occasionally Costco irks me.  I dislike the whole concept of paying-for-the-privilege to shop there, or anywhere really.  Note I don’t dislike it enough to let my membership lapse in protest or anything… so I must not mind it too badly.  Then there was the time I wanted to change my address after we moved.   I find, when I have two kids in tow, I get abnormally vexed at anything that wastes my time.  (Like last week in Bed, Bath, & Beyond when the girl forgot to ring in my 20% off coupon and I had to spend extra time there while they adjusted the purchase?  Super vexing!)  Anyway, I wait in the customer service line with both my kids to get my address changed, as I suspected we weren’t getting the coupon books from Costco we’d grown to anticipate and love, and the 14 year-old working customer service informs me that I need proof that my address changed to change my address.  Because, you see, fraudulent folks change their address so that someone else with a different address can be on the account, and then they change the address back once the non-household person comes in to get their membership card.

In theory, yes, I understand how this might be slightly troublesome to Costco.  Like, OMG, someone is trying to defraud you for the PRIVILEGE of shopping in your store and SPENDING MONEY buying the things you sell?  For shame!!  It is vexing to me, however, to stand in line at customer service, two small children in tow and being as cheerful as can be expected to have to be in line doing nothing (i.e. not cheerful at all) and then to have Zitty McOrthodonture tell me he can’t change my address for me because I might be trying to rip off his esteemed employer.  However, if I would just come back with a bank statement or something else with my address on it, then no problem!  (Now normally, yes, my driver’s license would have my address on it… but you assume that Frank and I have actually gotten around to getting new driver’s licenses and re-registering our cars in New York state.  And you would be mistaken.)

Whatever.   I hope he enjoyed his little power trip.

So, with all this high-level security in place, imagine my surprise when Costco must have been notified by the ever-reliable U.S. Postal Service that we had submitted a change-of-address form with them.  And a couple days ago I got a big coupon book in the mail from Costco, with all my beloved coupons, and with my new address on them.

As if this was needed

Just one more note to add right now…

I have a new addiction, thank you so much to my friend Dave for showing it to me.  Jellyfish Smack Shopping.

Like shopping wasn’t fun enough… now I get to compete with other people in a test of will and patience to see who can get the best deal without losing the deal.  And I get to chat with them.  And play games in between the deals.  And make wagers on the outcome.

I needed this like I needed a whole in the head.