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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

More snow! Yesterday, I fell asleep instead of taking Jasper for his walk, which resulted in him barking at gremlins he insisted were out in our backyard at midnight. In a few minutes, I will tackle all the fresh snow and take him out. He’s adorable leaping about in the snow (I’ll see if I can find my camera to demonstrate), but trying to dry him off is a nightmare. And yet, I cannot bear to cut his fur down more and reduce his teddy-bearness.

The first snow of the season is always a logistical nightmare, no matter how organized I think I am. I brought up dozens – no exaggeration here – of mittens, and yet yesterday morning none of them could find any. I have no idea where they all are, and I am pissed off. Asher insisted his snowpants fit, but they don’t, but he won’t upgrade. Asher and Maya need new boots, as do I.

I didn’t think it was urgent until I picked them up from school and Asher presented me with soaking-wet boots. Really, they could not have been wetter if he’d thrown them in a swimming pool. I guess waterproofness wears off?

So we were off to the big show store near here, along with maybe half the city. Three children and a huge shoe store after school is my idea of hell, and every year I manage to get trapped in it. Thankfully, we found boots for the boy very quickly, because he was the urgent one. None for the girl, though. Poor Maya – the problem with being tall is that the clothes appropriate to your age don’t fit your body. She wanted cool, colourful kids’ boots, but she wears women’s size 7 (or 8, depending on the fit). In the women’s section, we were faced with rows and rows of stylish black boots. We finally found some she liked and they had a rough seam running right over her ankle bone. How stupid is that? So she still needs them. I didn’t even try to look for me. I’m not a total masochist.

The snow makes me want to knit. I just want to sit in front of a nice fire and knit. Instead, I get a row or two done while singing lullabies or waiting in the car for the school bell to ring.

Currently, I am knitting:

hats and scarves for the AG dolls (2 hats done so far)

a sweater for Asher that I started last winter, really big, but if I don’t get my butt in gear on it, he’ll still manage to outgrow it before I’m done.

socks for Maya – one finished.

socks for Boo – one finished.

a baby sweater for the friends whose baby arrived 4 months ago.

a scarf, probably for Asher.

I just got lovely wool and a pattern for a winter hat for me, but have resisted starting it. Don’t know how long I’ll last, though.

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Shopping on ebay is so much fun now that the American dollar has tanked. It used to be that it was still cheaper to get stuff, like my lovely fountain pen, on ebay rather than retail. But you had to be careful. You had to take the price and raise it to account for the fact that the Canadian dollar used to be worth about 80% of the US one. Then there was shipping on top of that, then you had to raise the shipping too, which was already frequently ridiculous because we are ‘international.’

But now, ebay shopping is a joy, except for the stupid shipping hassles. If you log in on ebay.ca, the listings kindly convert the prices into Canadian currency in brackets after the US price. It is so much fun seeing a smaller number in the brackets. Probably too much fun. My simple brain looks at the reduced number and says, “It’s so much cheaper now to buy in the States it is almost free! Free!” Click.

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I’ve just been a little … distracted … lately.

I’d say the biggest culprit is those damned American Girl dolls. My girls love theirs. All they want for Hanukkah is more clothes, shoes, etc. Those outfits are expensive. One outfit for one doll is $24! And Boo has twins!

Suddenly it occurred to me to check ebay. And that is when I disappeared.

There are approximately 3500 items of American Girl clothing on sale on ebay, much of it handmade. Of course, while many people say they will ship to Canada, no one bothers to put what they’ll charge a Canadian for shipping. While it seems likely that the person charging $2 per item is more likely to charge about the same to ship here than the guy claiming to need $16 to ship a pair of doll pants north, I’m not taking any chances. This means I need to email the people I am interested in buying from and ask them about shipping, then wait for a reply before going ahead.

Worse, I have to guess what Maya would like, which I still clearly suck at. I left a picture of a dress up on the screen that I had just bought – it was cute, I swear – and Maya walked by and said, “Uch! That is hideous!” We really do have different tastes. Fortuantely, Boo thought it was adorable.

So I’m been spending my computer time comparing doll dresses and PJs and snowsuits. Blog? What blog?

I’d like to point, since J will probably read this, that I am not spending all my time searching for dolly clothing, just my computer time – time I would otherwise be spending writing my blog or reading others. But it is winding down now. I have enough stuff for Hanukkah for the two of them, plus birthdays and various other occasions that may arise. So I’m back.

Next up: more bat mitzvah rambling.

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Well, we did it. We drove 8 hours (give or take a few pee/food breaks) down to New York on Wednesday and then 8 back on Monday.

The weirdest part of the trip was the weather. It reached the high 20s (Celsius) every day and didn’t get much cooler at night. It was so hard to convince ourselves that we were there in October. We feel blessed by the weather gods.

We stayed on the Upper West side in a friend’s apartment. He was kind enough to vacate it and stay with his girlfriend so we could take over. I have to admit, I could totally see living in New York if I had buckets of money. We walked to Central Park, which we all just loved. They have a carousel there that costs $1.50 per ride – the best deal in the whole city.

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Even the big kids liked it.

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We went back two days in a row.

The kids also lived climbing on the rocks (and giving me heart failure) and just watching the action. Here’s a picture of them at the top of the rock, silhouetted.

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We also stumbled across people practicing their rock-climbing skills on the more sheer parts of the rock. Our friend, S, ever up for a challenge, climbed it in his street shoes. As he got higher, they dragged the mattress they had to break falls over and placed it underneath him. Then, as he hoisted himself over the lip at the top, every hand went up to catch him as he fell, which he didn’t.

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They then swore they weren’t a club, just random people who show up, conveniently with a mattress and gear, but we think there were just jealous and didn’t want S to join and show them up.

We also got Boo’s face painted.

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Here’s the final product. She has a dopey expression on her face, but it was the best I could get. She’s in the ‘lame smile’ stage right now.

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Another good deal was the little zoo in Central Park. It is very lovely and well-kept, and just beautiful.

We’ve been going to New York since J first took me 15 years ago, and I have to say, the place has changed. We took the kids to gawk at 42nd street without a moment’s concern, and had lots of fun checking out a 3-floor M&M store, amazed that a place with 3 stories of M&M stuff could stay in business.

When I first saw 42nd Street, I stood and gawked like the hick tourist I was and J nudged me and said, “Stop looking like such a tourist! You are going to get us mugged!” He based this on his experience of being mugged on 42nd Street a few years earlier. There were strip clubs and peep shows everywhere and a large black guy with a wild look in his eyes was up on a stool preaching about how the ‘so-called white man’ had ruined the world.

No more crazy people and peep shows there now. Never at any point in New York, even when it was just Maya and me walking in the dark, did we feel a moment’s concern. In fact, several times, when we were having trouble figuring out exactly how to get where we wanted to go, people just came up to us and asked if they could help us out. It was a really nice experience. It seems New Yorkers have mellowed.

Another fun thing was the shopping, thanks to our equal dollars. A lot of stuff, like clothes and books, are cheaper in the States, plus there is no tax on clothes, so we went a little nuts. I bought $50 worth of underwear. (Woo hoo!)

We, of course, had to take the kids to FAO Schwartz.

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We fed them at the little cafe there, which actually had healthy food for kids (plus ice cream – there are limits) . Here’s a happy Maya after a day of shopping.

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The place we really lost our minds was the bookstore. The book situation is ridiculous. One book I got was $14 if you bought it in the States and $21 in Canada. As a result, it just felt to us like everything was on sale and we all got several books. Then, on the way home, we stopped in a Borders for a pee break and walked out with 5 more books and 2 magazines.

We also did various museums, of course. A huge hit was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as The Lightening Thief begins there, plus, it has a section full of Greek statues of the various gods. Here are Maya and Asher ‘posing’ with a young Hercules.

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I know I’ve already raved about this book, but really, it was so remarkable to follow my boy around as he said things like, “Look, he’s holding the skin of the Nemean lion he killed,” and “This sarcophagus has carvings of Theseus fighting the Minotaur on it!”

We then sat on the steps outside the Met, relaxing for a bit. This is Boo’s idea of relaxing:

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We then got to witness something else typically New York: a performance art piece. These women, dressed to the nines, kept crossing the street, pausing in the middle to wave and pretend to flag down taxis. Frequently people who were crossing with them would get into the act, blowing kisses to the crowd and such. Very funny.

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And now we are home. The weather has turned cold, it is raining and the routine has returned. Sigh.

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Man, summer went fast. When I was a kid, it went on for ever and ever. But I’m old now and zip – all gone. I know I’m supposed to love it when the kids go back, but I don’t so much. I like the freedom of late bedtimes and sleeping in and going off on day trips. I don’t feel like we did all we wanted to this summer.

And I hate hate hate the homework grind, and the driving back and forth, and figuring out when the spoiled rotters will eat for lunch (day one here and already Maya wouldn’t eat anything we had).

Boo doesn’t start for two more days, as they are having each kid meet the teacher individually first. This is a waste for us, as the teacher has know Boo since she was an infant (and Asher was in her class), and every time we saw her at school since then, she’d run over to Boo and say, “Are you going to be in my class next year yet?”

But at least we get two days of mommy/no-longer-a-baby bonding time. As we walked Jasper at the off-leash park, with Boo biking wildly ahead, I wished she weren’t going in two days and I’ll be back to reading my paper as I saunter after the dog. I like our discussions. I don’t think I’ll cry when she goes, as for us the break has been gradual rather than abrupt, but I’ll miss her being around.

That wasn’t what I planned to talk about, though. What I wanted to mention was school supplies. Dreaded school supplies. The weirdest thing happened to me this year. To start with, the school did not send insane lists. I’m used to lists requiring camera film, paper towels, boxes of kleenex, ziplock bags, rags, 80 sharpened pencils.

These ones didn’t. No paper towels or kleenex, only 20 pencils. I can’t figure it out. And every year they all ask for 4 tennis balls (to stick on chair legs to quiet them). I can never figure out what they did with last year’s tennis balls. But this year, only one kid’s list had that (I’ve never sent them in anyway).

The school supply gods continued to smile down upon is as we headed to the store at the end of last week to buy what we needed. I expected there to be a mob at the place, as I’ve always experienced in other years. But it was downright quiet. And pretty much everything was easy to find and – get this – we got everything we needed. Just like that, in one place and one visit. I walked out in shock.

Actually, I exaggerate. We couldn’t find one thing – some particular notebook that could NOT have coils. No coils, got it? Everywhere we looked, there was the book we needed, but coiled. Maya said, “Why are they asking for something that doesn’t appear to exist?” I explained, “Because they want to drive us crazy, honey. They always have to put one impossible thing on the list each year, just to make us nuts.”

But I am a veteran school supply shopper now, and I don’t fall for it. I bought coiled anyway. Ha! I spit in the eye of the system!

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I bought Maya new shoes about four months ago and a couple of days ago she came home and announced that she could not bear her shoes one moment longer because they were so tight and hurt so much and I must get her new shoes right away! Drama queen, I thought, and sighed as I went over to push at the toe of her shoe and tell her she was exaggerating. She wasn’t.

She then told me she had gym the next day and simply COULD NOT go with those shoes. I told her we’d go get new ones that evening. Then I started feeling pukey (for no reason at all) and had to bail. She behaved as though the world was ending and, seeing no other good time to go and her paper route deliver day looming, I decided we’d skip the first half an hour of school and took her out to Walmart for cheap shoes.

“Won’t they fall apart if they are too cheap?” she asked, clearly having absorbed my lessons about shoddy workmanship. “You don’t wear them long enough for them to fall apart,” I told her.

It took a long time, and we ended up with the most expensive shoe in the place, which was still only $30. I thought that was a lot until our further adventures this afternoon, where I saw children’s shoes for $120.

The reason I saw those is that when I picked her up from school, she pointed to a spot where they’d rubbed her ankle raw, so we brought those back and went on a new search. Turned out we had yesterday afternoon free, and I had envisioned the kids playing in the sunshine while Jasper and I gardened.

The shoes put an end to all that. I dragged that kid to store after store, failing to find any shoes that fit my limited price range and her limited style requirements (she also, I should admit, has long skinny feet which are hard to fit).

In Winners, I found a great pair of canvas running shoes that Maya didn’t like, but I did. Having nothing between heavy hiking shoes and sandals, I was delighted to find these, and bought them. Maya was horrified. She begged me not to buy them. The problem? These shoes, according to her, are hip. They are fashionable. And since I am clearly old and not fashionable, I will look ridiculous in these shoes. I was more delighted. Now, not only do I have nice, comfortable shoes, but I have the bonus of embarrassing my daughter every time I wear them! It doesn’t get better than that, and was a good pick-me-up in a long afternoon.

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We finally ended up in a huge box shoe store in a strip mall, our 6th store, where I swore we would not leave without shoes. As we were dragging out shoes for Maya to try on, Asher said, “I think I need new shoes too.” I said, “Don’t be ridiculous. I bought you shoes two months ago. Just because your sister gets something new doesn’t mean you have to.” He said, “Feel my toe.” And, sure enough, there it was, scrunched right up against the front of his shoe. I yelled, “And you couldn’t have mentioned this FIVE shoe stores ago!!?” The saleslady laughed. He said, “I didn’t think of it then.”

So we walked out with Maya in a nice pair of hot pink running shoes, size 8. (I was size 7 before I had kids and am now an 8.5 or a 9, depending on the shoe – clearly we will not be sharing shoes when she grows up. In fact, she may have trouble even finding shoes at this rate – the kid hasn’t yet turned 11.)

Asher went from a 3 to a 5. I made sure he has lots of wiggle room this time, because I’d like those shoes to last a whole summer. Is that so much to ask?

Wiped, we crawled down the mall to Ikea for some nice, easy Swedish meatballs for dinner, only to find the place closed for some corporate function. I said loudly as we walked away, “Who goes to the Ikea cafeteria for a corporate dinner?” McDonalds it was. Yuck. When we got home, the kids yelled, “Hey, look at that cat way up in that tree!” Then they yelled, “Hey, that’s OUR cat!”

They were convinced she was stuck forever, but as soon as she saw us, she climbed to the lowest branch, about 15 feet up, and just leapt to the ground. So much for the myth that cats can go up but not back down a tree.

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