Back to School Shopping HELL

Let’s start by clearing up one southern belle myth:  not all belles believe in the power of the flea market or thrift store. Personally, I’m not a fan. I love a good bargain and refuse to pay full price unless it’s an emergency situation. I’m a BIG fan of stores like TJ Maxx/Marshall’s/Home Goods, unique and/or designer items at greatly reduced prices. I don’t much care if its last year’s style, I tend to be more of a basics girl who adds flare with accessories, makes keeping the work wardrobe fresh. When it comes to shopping for “The Girl”, Target is one of her favorite stores, so it’s fairly easy to stretch your shopping dollar. For a girl who claims to love going to Target and the mall and who will shake us down for every penny she can to “shop”, trying to get her to commit too and actually purchase while school shopping over the weekend was nothing short of torture.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about her seemingly thrifty ways. Apparently her price point is around $15, anything more than that she wouldn’t even consider. With the weather still summer warm and with the school allowing shorts, provided they are long enough to cover ones ass when they bend over, I informed her that we were not going to get much in the way of warm weather clothing just yet. She recently went shopping with her mom, so perhaps in her mind she has plenty of clothes for school. The issue is, they are at mom’s house and anyone in a blended family knows, the back and forth of clothes, sports gear, school items or anything a kid needs/wants with them can be a nightmare. In the past we have had to reach out and ask for clothing to be sent back, as with the sleepover and leaving in school clothes returning in play clothes, we would end up with no inventory and vice versa for her mom. She had gotten a pair of sweatpants while shopping with her mom that she LOVES, so I suggested maybe a couple of more pairs- seems totally logical to me. The eye roll alone was priceless, but no, she didn’t see a need for another pair. Same when the suggestion of leggings or jeans or shorts. I am still not sure why it took me so long to give up making any suggestions, but I know she needed clothes and I wasn’t giving up so easily.

Every dress or skirt I touched was met with a grunt or “it’s cute, but I would never wear it”. That phrase repeated countless times. I did talk her into a cute pair of casual sneakers, my guess is they will never get worn and she will outgrown them and they will end up in the donation bag as clean as they are today. At the end of the day, she got the shoes, 4 t-shirts, a pair of leggings, a few pair of socks and a pack of panties (which I believe is the law when back to school shopping- socks and underwear). This small haul took hours and trips to a few retail establishments. She was happy, I was exhausted and I told her, do not let me hear you say you have nothing to wear to school, as if I do, I will kill you.

What I find funny and I mentioned to her, she will not spend money, MY money, on clothes, but she has no problem asking, whining and almost crying for a beverage from Starbucks (at $5 each) every time we go anywhere.  I think it’s a waste of money and given what she orders is nothing more than a milkshake, it’s not something one should have daily, much less more than once a day.  She had money to go to the mall with friends, where she could have shopped for items for school- all but a $1 that was spent on a bracelet was spent on Starbucks and Chinese food at the food court. She is 13 and has chores to earn the money she has for those outings, so I wasn’t about to tell her she was wrong, but she is at the age where she knows the value of money and that she won’t be given handouts for anything she wants without her earning it, at least in part. The rules are not the same at her mom’s, which does make it a challenge at times, but they have been divorced at this point longer than they were together as a family, so she is used to life in two houses with differing rules at times.

So, that was my back to school shopping hell. I have a short list of things in mind for Christmas as a result of this adventure, but I believe we have officially reached the point where the girl will be getting mostly money and/or gift cards to Christmas so she can do her own shopping. Likely gift cards, as I can’t stomach the idea of her entire Christmas being donated to Starbucks…one beverage at a time.

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An unplanned epic weekend

I’m a planner. It is my nature to plan and organize, whether its meals, weekends, events or vacations. That’s not to say I can’t be spontaneous, I can, but when things need to be planned, I am in my element.

This past weekend was originally going to be nothing special. A nice quiet weekend with no plans, just go with the flow. Friday morning I get a message asking if I want to attend the U2 concert. HELLO… SURE! While I have never been a huge U2 fan, they are legends and as my mother taught me long ago, when you get the opportunity to see a legend, you take it. When I was 18 the Rolling Stones came to town and again, I was not a huge fan. My mom got me tickets for my birthday. I still remember how I protested, I did NOT want to go, but to this day I am so glad I did. I have seen the Rolling Stones, wow. And now I can say I have seen U2 and it was beyond any expectations I had. I love concerts. Live music is simply amazing. I have seen some of the best performers live and I can say U2 had the best show from a production stand point I have ever seen. I had also forgotten now many songs from the Joshua Tree album (which they played in it’s entirety) I loved. Bono remains passionate about causes near and dear to his heart and isn’t afraid to talk about them, even in a deep red state with our “Trump light” governor in attendance. It was emotional and beautiful and the performance was amazing.

Saturday started out with no plans, but like Friday, it took a fabulous turn. First we checked a major item off the family “to do” list: we bought a new mattress set. I have found as I talked to folks about the need to tackle this, mattress shopping is a very big deal. Unlike any other furniture, your bed truly needs to be the perfect purchase. You spend 8 hours (if you are lucky) every night in your bed. It is required to comfort and cradle you, to ensure you drift off into restful slumber so you awake the next day refreshed and ready to take on the day. When you are sick its a safe haven that protects you from the outside world and provides a place to recover. When your mattress fails you, life is off balance somehow.

Shopping for a mattress is an odd process. Yes, you sit on a chair or sofa when you shop, but rarely do you lay down and attempt to make yourself comfortable….IN FRONT OF STRANGERS! And silly me, I thought enough ahead to wear sandals so I could easily remove my shoes to test drive the mattresses, but not enough to realize a short sundress was a HORRIBLE idea. So there I was, awkwardly trying to get into  bed after bed, attempting to appear to be testing the comfort level and  all I was thinking was “am I flashing everyone?”. Finally we settled on a set, but honestly, they all felt the same to me, so I hope we made the right decision. We have a 120 night sleep test, which sounds like a great thing, but the return sounds like a huge hassle. Removing a king sized bed is no easy task, so unless I wake in as much pain and misery as I have been of late, not to mention being more exhausted than when I went to bed, this bad boy will be home to stay. And if our track record holds, it will be our mattress for MANY years.

After the successful shopping trip, we were invited to some friends’ house to just hang out. We listened to music, had some adult beverages and just chatted about all kinds of fun, stress-free topics. It was a nice summer evening.  It is interesting how the dynamic of a group can shift when another person joins. Another lady joined us later in the evening. She was very nice and outgoing, I’m sure under other circumstances we would have a great time hanging out. I could tell fairly early on that there was a heaviness about her. The mood shifted to political talk, which always gets heated and impassioned. It was getting late and after the very late night on Friday, we used that as an excuse to make our exit. Apparently our timing was perfect, as after we left the woman had  full emotional meltdown. Perhaps is happened because we were gone, but I am grateful we were not there to witness it. Being emotional support for my friends is something I do well- I’m a good listener and I try to give sound advice when it is asked of me or simply comforting words and support when its not. But to deal with a stranger’s emotional breakdown, that is a bit too much for a Saturday night.

Sunday was Father’s Day. I do not have a relationship with my father. I had emotional closure many years ago, so it no longer affects me. Father’s Day is meant to be a day to honor my husband who is a wonderful father to his two children, as well as our furkids,  and my father in-law who I could not love more. I’m very lucky to have the love and support of my in-laws, especially since my parents are absent from my life. Family gatherings are always interesting for us. My husband has a brother who is the polar opposite of him in every way, except one; their need to debate and be right. Yesterday was no exception. As we finished dinner they got into a debate on government funding and it got heated…VERY heated. I am not even sure they noticed that everyone left the room, leaving them alone to battle their points. The epic debates between the two are so legendary it was decided that a safe word was needed so the rest of us could call it out to put a stop to any discussion we felt was getting out of hand, as they rarely can see this for themselves. I was very impressed that they were able to escalate, argue and come back to a place of calm without anyone using the safe word. Maybe they are maturing…. at 46 and 42 years of age.

As I sit here this Monday morning thinking back on my weekend, one that I had no plans or hopes of greatness- it was truly one epic 72 hours.