Tag Archives: shopping


Maybe you thought I was joking yesterday when I said I would take pictures of my water bottle. Well, friends, I spent the whole day with the kids and their moodsand I need to go drink some medicinal wine on the couch. Yes, you really do get to see pictures of my water bottle! Lucky.

Last year I was at the dollar store with Eli, looking for something, probably a notebook or paper bags or a plastic shovel. From the corner of my eye, I saw metal water bottles for $2. “Joint venture between Threadless and Thermos,” the sticker said. I was intrigued. I picked one up and I was instantly in love. On one side it read:

"I'm a huge metal fan!"

“I’m a huge metal fan!”

and on the other:

"Me too!"

“Me too!”

And only two bucks! I would have paid at least five.

Sixteen — That was Yesterday

Yesterday I had plans. All the plans. We had guests staying with us (hi mother and father and brother-in-law! hi!) so I made plans. Not because I don’t like my guests — I do! I like them! — but because their presence means SA has taken a week off work so the math is FIVE adults to ONE child (the other child being in school) and I decided the ONE child could make do with only FOUR adults to look after him for the day.

And apparently I was wrong because that child ate a triple chocolate muffin for lunch, washed down by chocolate milk THANKS, BEST UNCLE EVER.

So I took transit, went to Granville Island, had lunch, bought things, came home, ate dinner, and then went to book club because book club was meeting at the house two doors down from me and I couldn’t really say no, and then came home at ten and went to bed.

This morning I remembered I forgot to blog yesterday, which is hardly surprising given that I rarely do that much in a *week*. Transit AND lunch AND book club? Crazy madness.

Fifteen — Pants, the Conclusion

When we left our hero, ie: me, she had one pair of plaid clown pants she needed to return to the store, one pair of perfect pants that were stained with an oil or grease-like substance, and was enduring very hot weather that necessitated her wearing something other than jeans.

Luckily, the weather soon changed and jeans were perfectly serviceable once again. On mentioning her dilemma to first a friend and then her own mother-in-law, she was instructed to remove the grease stain with eucalyptus oil or Pine Sol, respectively. Loyal blog readers suggested other things: Ricki’s Miracle Pants (an ’80s cover band name if I ever heard one) and Old Navy’s jersey knit fold-over skirt, as well as maxi dresses and a store called Mark’s.

She tried the Pine Sol. It sort of worked, but would need repeat application to really be effective.

She thought about Ricki’s and Mark’s. She thought about Ricki and Mark eloping, a la Brenda and Eddie. She got distracted by nostalgia and piano solos in her head.

On Monday morning the weather turned warm again so she took her plaid clown pants and went to Metrotown, the Mall with the Most, to return the pants and look for the jersey skirt at Old Navy. Having looked at the jersey skirt at Old Navy’s website and having only found one size left for sale, she knew it might be difficult. She felt rested and up to the challenge.

First, returning the clown pants. The blonde lady in the store frowned and asked if she needed a different size. Our hero refrained from explaining that the sizing in the store was so messed up, so CHRONICALLY BUGGERED, that there was no way she would ever even try pants in that establishment again, let alone that day.

Second, a trip to the Gap to laugh at the horizontally striped maxi dresses that cost $60.

Third, Old Navy, where our hero scoured the store for forty-five minutes, a full thirty-five longer than she usually spent at Old Navy. She found small jersey dresses, large floral dresses, a pair of linen pants, t-shirts priced at $8 apiece. She tried them all. They all sucked. She dug through the clearance racks and started to go mildly insane listening to the vaguely dance-like pop music, but she did not find the jersey skirt. Resigned to failure, she was making small talk with the fitting room attendant when she spied it, in the attendant’s hand. A black, a-line, jersey skirt.

“That..skirt,” our hero blustered, pointing like a fool at the piece of fabric on the hanger.
“Oh?” said the attendant, who was short of stature but wise of nature. “This? It’s a maternity skirt.”
“That’s exactly what I want,” said our hero, nodding, flushing with excitement. “That’s THE SKIRT I want.”
“Well come with me and I will show you where I got it,” said the attendant. “It comes in two colours. It’s very comfortable..”

Lo. Behold. In the maternity section, the only section where our hero hadn’t looked, was a rack of perfect skirts, in sizes small to XXL, in grey and black. She bought two, in size medium because she is not pregnant, merely a fan of comfortable, fold-over waistbands and the quiet swish of a skirt in warm weather.

Have the mighty fallen, or have we won? I think you know the answer.

Eleven — Market

Today was the first day of the New Westminster Summer Farmers Market. We have been going to this market for years, I want to say four years, but I would have to really think about it. Anyway. It is in the parking lot behind City Hall, Thursdays between 3 and 7 pm and there are several traditions involved:

1. Kettle corn must be purchased
2. and immediately consumed.
3. Sometimes lemonade too.
4. Face painting?
5. Buy stuff, run into people we know, play in the trees, use the port-o-let, go home.

I used to try and put the kids off from eating the kettle corn first — oh hey, let’s choose some strawberries! And check out the fiddler! — all the while they’d be somewhere behind me, tearing the bag open, refusing to share it, yelling at each other, being annoying. This year I gave it up. Here is your giant bag of kettle corn, go sit under that tree, I’m going shopping.

Today they were so stunned by my about-face, they sat quietly and didn’t even ask about lemonade. So I rewarded them with chocolate cats. “Are these handmade?” asked Arlo. “Yes,” I replied. Soon he will be ready for Portlandia.

They didn’t ask about face paint either, which is kind of happy and kind of sad. Sad, because now they’re old and face paint is done. Well, technically, Eli has never asked about face paint, but Arlo always does. It’s his First Market Day Tradition and he forgot. Sunrise, sunset.

Happy: because I didn’t have to wait in line for face paint and because I could spend the money I would have spent on face paint on strawberries, radishes, and perogies.

Sadly, we were there too early to see anyone we knew. Then Arlo climbed a tree, so far up “I can see the top of the telephone pole!” and then he used the port-o-let and it was pronounced The Most Roomiest Port-o-let Ever. I told him we’d send a card to the RCFM and let them know.

It gave me a funny feeling in my stomach.

It gave me a funny feeling in my stomach.

And then we went home.

Ten — You Have to Cover Your Butt with Something

Summer has sort of arrived and I have Pants Issues.

In warm weather, I like short pants. Not shorts, never shorts unless I am running recreationally. And not SKORTS because I just have a thing against skorts. I trace it back to my adolescence when I was shopping for a cute skirt and all the skirts I thought were cute actually had shorts attached. It was the betrayal that stayed with me, not any actual objection to skorts, per se.

Well except for the word SKORT, which I hate.

Skirts are OK, but I don’t feel I have the right blend of semi-dressy-casual shirts to go with skirts. A skirt feels dressier than pants, it just does. It feels like it would necessitate a lifestyle change. I would love the perfect casual skirt that I could wear with my assortment of knit, various coloured, v-neck t-shirts. Anyone have one?

Which leads us to pants, my summer bottom covering of choice. I used to have linen capri pants and I loved them and they’re gone. LETTING IT GO. Recent years have found me in an assortment of light cotton beige pants and last year I decided I will no longer be buying beige pants because they match my skin and that freaks me out when I look at myself in a full length mirror.

After some browsing, last year I bought a pair of grey, cotton capris at MEC and they were awesome — an investment at $40 but I do tend to keep pants for years and years if I love them — and I was happy to find them in the summer box this year and happy to wear them, exactly twice, before they got washed with lip balm or something oily and now they have a giant oily patch on the left front pocket. It looks like I peed on myself, basically. So even though I Shopped for Pants just last summer, now I have to do it again (although a friend tells me I can get an oil stain out of cotton by rubbing eucalyptus into it? I will try this) and lo, I am cranky.

The other day I stopped at Reitmans (apostrophe? No apostrophe? Don’t care enough to google) and tried on what I thought were going to be the perfect blue plaid pants — oh, I am such a sucker for plaid. I tried one size and it felt too big but the smaller size felt too small so I went with the bigger.

I bought them, yes I did, and when I got them home, realized that they are just too big. I look like a clown in them. Reitmans just always seems like a good idea and then it isn’t; the pants I like have no pockets and the sizing is messed up. I should just not go in there. But now I have to go back and return the pants.

Meanwhile it’s HOT out and #whine.

Pants, man. Pants.

One *

When I first had two children, I used to go to big box stores like Costco and Superstore as a form of meditation. Oh sure, I did the shopping while I was there. It was a pleasure to do so, I volunteered for it, because my daily life was executed in a cloud of constant noise and need. At the big box stores, no one needed me. I wandered, silent, picking things up and putting them down, following the list, crossing things off. It was as good as a nap.

Actually, it was BETTER than a nap because at the end, there was food to eat. I could never nap when the children napped because it was a waste of time. At the end of a nap all you are is rested, maybe. Maybe not! Maybe you’re just mad that you couldn’t sleep longer. Naps are a wild card. And then, you haven’t done anything. You’re right back at square one, but with worse hair.

I will never tell anyone to sleep while the baby sleeps, I swear it.

Anyway, that was five years ago. (almost to the day!) Today I went to Costco while Eli was at preschool. I didn’t especially want to go. I would rather have gone for a run, which is what I’ve been doing every preschool class for weeks, or to the library, or stayed home to work on the slowest short story revision ever. But, we were out of peanut butter and multivitamins and nearly out of coffee. It would need to be done this week sometime and would I rather go with Eli? No I would not. Would I rather go on the weekend, with TWO children? NO I WOULD NOT NO NO NO.

Very little makes me feel more like an adult than having two hours free and choosing to go to Costco for the simple reason that it needs doing.

I don’t miss being the All Important Sun-Like Mother of Two Needful Beings. I really like that my kids are now mostly reasonable small people who can butter their own bread. But I do sort of miss that I used to think shopping was a magical, spa-like experience. Now it’s just a chore — albeit one that nets me coffee and really tasty pesto.

* so titled because one of my biggest stumbling blocks in posting to this blog has been choosing titles. Seriously, I have ten drafts that I could publish right now except then I’d have to think of titles. I’m not saying I’m rational! I’m just saying the titles will be numbers unless I can think of something better.

Selling Books to Children. Those Devils.

My first interaction with Scholastic books was when flyers came home in our first year of preschool. The preschool gets books for free! the Scholastic parent rep crowed. Buy books for your kid(s)!

I wasn’t sold. I buy a lot of books anyway, and also we are given a lot of books, plus we use several libraries heavily yes, we are heavy library users, and we were already giving to the school with our fees and fundraising attempts. Oh chocolate almonds, how I loathe you.

Oh, all right. I just plain resented being asked to buy books from a particular retailer. I don’t know why. The Scholastic flyer’s tendency to describe books the way Columbia House described its tapes and CDs didn’t help. New book from author of More Pies! You’ll love it!

I don’t hate the company. I think they distribute books and help organizations get more books and I love books and it’s fine. I just don’t particularly want to support them. I think it’s because I either never got Scholastic flyers when I was a kid or my mother hid/burned them. I don’t have any nostalgic connection to them at all. Whatever. Books come from all kinds of places.

Last year was our first year of elementary school, and there was a Scholastic book fair. The books come to town for TWO DAYS ONLY! and you can BUY THEM IN PERSON in the LIBRARY! It’s like the kid-equivalent of U2 coming to town. My then-kindergartener was very excited about a FAIR of BOOKS, and we went and looked at the books, all displayed beautifully in the library, and I bought him and his brother each a book because how could I not. How. Seriously. The prices are not terrible and they’re right there, in person, in the library.

A year passed.

I had actually forgotten all about the book fair; if it wasn’t for my internet friends who live in cities further East than me talking about volunteering for and running the Scholastic book fair I would have totally let it pass me by — but wait, no I wouldn’t have because the book fair is a very smooth machine. I have to say, if schools ever started selling Avon or crack or things not as morally superior as books, they would be able to pay for millions in improvements and playground equipment.

I imagine the Scholastic Training for Schools goes like this:

Two weeks before book fair: Put up posters. Talk about book fair at weekly school library visit.

One week before book fair: Send home catalogue (flyer!) of books available at book fair. Remind children of book fair. Send home notice to parents telling them about book fair. Send email to parents reminding them to check the backpack for the notice telling them about the book fair.

Two days before book fair: Reminder notice about book fair. (I am imagining) Announcements over the PA system on the hour talking up the book fair.

Day before book fair: Take children to library for regular weekly visit. Do not allow them to take out books because all the books are blocked off by the book fair display. Do allow them to make a “wish list” on a piece of paper and tell them to show their parents later. Mention in passing that certain books are “already sold out!” – this creates more demand.

Day of book fair: Kids line up outside the library to get in and freak out about books. I have been told.

I know. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with it. Books! Kids + books! It’s not a NINTENDO fair. It’s not a sloppy pants and ugly tuques fair. What is my problem.

But when I mentioned to another parent the so-very-businesslike propaganda of the book fair, she nodded (her child is in 2nd grade) and said, yes, it’s weird. The “write stuff on your wish list and take it to your parents” thing is weird. Very smart. But weird. So it’s not just me.

(I remember reading four hundred blog posts by smart parents about Scholastic when my kids were babies. I don’t remember what they said. They probably said something like this post but smarter.)

My kid is so excited about the book fair that he can’t even talk properly. He’s counting down to book fair day. (It’s tomorrow. FYI.) He’s vibrating. All this, of course, depends on me agreeing to buy him a book.

We bargained down to one book. Originally he wanted five.

That’s the part I don’t like. I don’t like being manipulated. Who doesn’t buy their kid a book! “Don’t you LIKE books, Mommy?” *tears*

I resent the implication that this is my Big Opportunity to buy books. And what about those families with less money, who really can’t participate. How do those kids feel. How do their parents feel? Annoyed, probably.

But I can’t muster a really good froth of rage about this. I like books too much. I’m stuck at sort-of-annoyed. However, I will be reminding my kids to save their allowance for next year’s fair.

Boys Can Sew

I was at a store today, a store that sells a variety of things; clothing, toys, hats, suitcases, mislabeled shoes that say they’re size 11 but really are not. I went for a specific item, which I found, then looked for a bra but there was a giant gaping hole on the rack where the 36As go — is there some kind of factory shortage of this size or are there suddenly a million small-breasted women out there? I don’t understand. I was at a store last week and there was the same dearth of 36As.

Anyway. At the core of me I know I am privileged to have small breasts and have the option to go braless because the stores don’t want to clothe me. Etc.

After I found the thing I wanted, and not the bra I wanted, I wandered over to the toy section because Christmas is coming. There I overheard a small child and his grandmother, chatting about toys.

“Wazzzzat,” said the child, pointing at the shelf.
“That’s a box of something,” said his grandmother.
“I like dat!” said the child, pointing at a different shelf.
“Oh, that’s a sewing kit,” said his grandmother, “That’s for girls. It’s not something you would like. Carla would like that…”

You’ll be pleased to know I burned a hole in her with my eyeballs of fiery doom. She now resembles a slice of Swiss cheese.

It’s one thing to have your children be poisoned by other children’s opinions. And yes I know that a diversity of opinions is important for everyone to encounter and I don’t really mean poisoned but I kind of do. For example my own children play with and worship a neighbour child who has many good qualities and also is a girl-hater (yes he’s 7 but he is weird about girls beyond the usual cooties thing and has been for two years now) and when they play with him long enough I hear things like “that’s a girl song,” or “no way am I ever touching anything pink because that’s a girl colour” and I have to do damage control and re-assert our family values ie: there is no such thing as a girl toy and there’s nothing wrong with girls FOR EXAMPLE I AM ONE AND I MADE YOU and stop criticizing Ani DiFranco, asshole. Fine. That’s part of my job as a parent, to provide the more diversity of opinion and attempt to explain my values which I think are the best values. Obviously. As they are mine.

But if you have a child who is simply interested in the thing on the shelf, WHY do you have to go out of your way to tell him it’s not for him, that he won’t like it. Clearly he fucking likes it: he just said I LIKE DAT. So not only are you denying him what he thinks, you are telling him to be something else entirely, setting up gender boxes that didn’t exist for him a minute ago, and then stuffing him in the boy box.

And no, I’m not in favour of buying uninterested boy children sewing kits and then parading them around going “loookeee my BOY and his SEWING” but I would never, ever say, “you can’t have that, it’s for girls.” Unless it’s a tampon.

Fuck. Little dude wants a sewing kit. You don’t have to buy it, but watch your mouth. Your words have meaning and you just poisoned a nice, clean well.

And PS? Did you notice that half the designers of the clothes in this store are dudes? MICHAEL FUCKING KORS, whose pants you like. He’s a dude with a sewing machine. Well probably he doesn’t do much sewing anymore but you take my point. Yes you do. You take it.

All shopping shall be online from now forward.