Pages

October 18, 2019

garden on overdrive, promised meal, aggressive eating

Ticket bought, the race was on.
We hurried through the gates at Butchart Gardens after we bought our tickets.  Remember we were pressed for time and the kids were dead set on eating at a real restaurant.  Challenge accepted.

We raced through the gardens.  Saw it all, I assume in record time.  It was magnificent, but our crew can only handle so much beauty . . . Especially when they know a restaurant meal is in their near future.  Hot food exiting a RESTAURANT kitchen on a tray is a thing of beauty to them.  

This is the map - not a
 small place, but if you run
and agree to refrain from
 the standard million photos,
 it can be done in under an hour.
We ended up being forced to eat at the cafeteria on the grounds at the garden.  I grabbed a salad from the line and started eating it while the rest of the gang waited for their specific, hot meals to be brought out.  There was not a lot to choose from, so there was some groaning from our deprived children.  

I admit that I, too, was incredibly disappointed.  This place had almost no options for my gluten free butt.  Yeah, a salad.  I had my heart set on eating at a restaurant that we passed when we first got off the boat, but I didn’t understand the logistics at the time.  That place was now an hour in the wrong direction.  

It really was spectacular.
While I ate, Coach’s blood pressure skyrocketed.  He had paid.  For a real meal.  Yet, he feared that we would need to race to the bus without having eaten said meal.  It was a tense time.  I made all the kids use the restroom while they waited for their meals, so nothing else would slow us down after the dinner.  

I got up to use the restroom when my wimpy salad was ingested.  I made a beeline for the cashier first.  I pointed out that my husband my stroke out if they did not bring my family their food.  PRONTO.  The kids were pointing at other tables noting that those people sat down AFTER us.  I informed the guy of our bus conundrum.  ‘Please do not wait to serve everyone at once, just BRING OUT FOOD AS IT IS PREPARED.’  Cashier guy to the rescue - a few plates started to magically appear from the kitchen.  

I walked behind our crew and took a
 few pictures here and there in
 hopes of not being scolded.
I wish I had a video of my family eating, but on the other hand - you might not be interested in my fam doing their best imitation of competitive eating.  It was a unique style of bartering, begging, threatening, and inhaling.  If memory serves, and it usually does, it went a little bit like this:  

‘Do you want those veggies?’  
Are you done with your chicken?’  
‘Can I finish your - whatever that is?’ 
‘Touch my plate again and I will break your fingers.’  
My children:  do NOT deny them
a restaurant meal after it has
 been promised.  EVER.
‘I think you are drinking from my water glass.’  
Where did you find the butter?’  
You know you are never going to finish all of that.’  
I just want one bite.’  

And just like that, in a matter of 6 or 7 minutes our meal was complete.  The busboys had nothing to scrape from our plates.  Their work had been done.  We ran like the wind to the bus.  I decided that we had 3 minutes to spare and I stopped in the bakery and bought a few of the priciest treats known to man for the kids to share/ fight over on the long bus ride.  


October 16, 2019

a mansion, whales, houseboats, and the inevitable run amuck

Look closely, there are two whales here.

The highlight of our Vancouver trip was surprisingly NOT our time stuffed into a cubicle-sized Airbnb.  Coach booked reservations on a whale watching expedition.  We had to be at the place super early, which was a challenge.  

The family's butts.  We leaned over the wall 
to watch this guy perform tricks, but it
 was his great sense of humor that kept us
 engaged.  We sent Curly down after
 he finished to put money in his hat.  










It was insanely windy once the boat took off.  Our cameras were ready, but nothing.  We were nearing the end of the trip when they announced that there were whales spotted ahead.  We all jockeyed for position and took a thousand photos.  So cool.  
Here they are again.  One waving to us.

The whales did not jump completely out of the water because by the time they arrive in these waters from wherever (I think Alaska), they are too hungry and tired to jump that high. Still we saw two of them come up repeatedly.  Lad also spotted a bald eagle, which impressed the crew to no end and clearly made Lad’s day.  Mini claimed afterwards that it changed her life.  We were all thrilled!

Mansion - very cool. This will come up again, but Mini used the bathroom here after our tour- like perhaps for the first time in a month, if you get my drift.  Made for an incredibly awkward situation since the toilet got clogged and there were only two stalls and the girls were ahead of me.  The older woman in front of me wandered into Mini's stall.  Whammo.  I was clueless because I was in line behind this woman.  Mini was unsure of how to handle the situation so she left the stall and allowed this poor woman to walk in after her.  I started to figure it out when I saw Mini's horrified face.  Let's just say, we won't be invited back to the mansion again.  
We could have taken the boat straight back, but Coach arranged for us to be dropped off at Victoria, a beautiful island.  This place hit all the marks.  It was gorgeous.  There were little house boats docked at this little, lively wharf area full of food stands and a floating ice cream place.  So cute.  We enjoyed a street performer who was downright hilarious. We toured a famous mansion where Curly, who had gotten ahead of me as I read the descriptions of what each room was used for, invited me to one of the floors in this way:  ‘Welcome to the open concept ballroom.’  Yes, she enjoys HGTV.  

Ice cream on the wharf area
while checking out the houseboats.
Then we took a bus to Butchart Garden.  This is where the plan started to run amuck.  Coach planned on having us take a ferry back to Vancouver.  He had not figured in what time the last ferry would run or how long it would take us to arrive at the gardens.  To complicate matters, we promised the kids that this night would be one of their few vacation restaurant meals (harps play as they anticipate a bit of heaven) vs a meal heated up on a paper plate in our hotel or airbnb.  
The bus hit traffic and we got to the gardens an hour before it closed.  The lady looked at me like I was insane when I asked if we could in fact tour the garden in an hour.  She was like, ‘Perhaps, but why would you do that?  Why would you not enjoy it?’  

Hey, we are athletic people - we can take in the beauty while doing a light jog.  She helped us look up the last ferry time.  We had to be on another bus out front of the garden in like an hour and 35 minutes if we wanted to make the last ferry.  Don’t forget that dinner needed to be incorporated into that 1 hr 35 min.  The ferry was still another 45 minutes away.  Poor Coach.  He thought it was all going to work out, but it was so hard to guesstimate how long we would take at each stop, then traffic, then the ferry schedule, etc.  

We rallied.  

October 14, 2019

not to be missed post: hilarious airbnb highlights, laughing to not cry

Glad one of us can stomach this stuff.
 This is Coach in the trampoline room
 removing Tank's stitches.
  
1.  Coach removing Tank’s stitches with a tweezers or a nail clippers - I kept my distance.  

2.  Moments - and I mean literally like 2 minutes - after we were in the apartment, Laddie went out on the tiny balcony.  We were on the 19th floor.  The door locked behind him and we COULD NOT open the door to get off the balcony.  The handle was jammed.  I was totally in blogger mode thinking of the many things I needed to report on, so I managed to capture a photo despite the small amount of panic happening. 
This is Lad stuck on the balcony.
 Reg laughing
 at him from the master. 
Tank in the background
 messing with the door. 
Life is really
 never dull for us.  Sigh.

The windows that led to the balcony were itty bitty so getting him back by ‘birthing’ him thru a window was not an option.  Coach eventually freed him, but he kept giving me looks accompanied by a shaking of the head. 

After years and years of our partnership of parenting the screw balls we like to refer to as our children (really we only claim them while at Church when they are dressed decent and on their best behavior) I know how to interpret his expression:   ‘What the Hell is wrong with our children?  (Often he verbalizes the question.  This time it was implied).  

It is a riddle I have struggled to answer for him over the years, yet he still asks.  I’m not gonna lie, there is often a bit of blame associated with this glance of ‘Goddamnit’-ness, but not to worry I am able to shrug away the blame.  Ahem, I KNOW they do not take after me.  

This photo does not go with the #2 issues
in the airbnb.  You're welcome.  This is
 kids trying out hammocks in a store on
 Granville Island.  I wish I had a video of
 a few of them trying to get in the damn
 things.  Mini was hoping I would buy one
for her room.  Not gonna happen.
 It is treacherous enough already in there.  
3. Anyone brave enough to go #2 in the bathroom took their life in their own hands.  ‘Couldn’t you wait till we were leaving?’  ‘Why’d you do that before my shower?’  ‘You are a pig?’  ‘What did you EAT yesterday?’ 

4.  Then there was the night that Lad insist that we watch ‘Black Fish’ a documentary about killer whales and Sea World, etc.  This suggestion happened the day after our whale watching adventure (more on that later).  This was a great film, but very sad and disturbing.  Not sure the timing was right for it to be shown right after we embraced whales in their natural habitat - kind of a buzz kill, but it is hard to find something the entire family can watch on TV.  

5.  When we finally had everything packed up and I had offered all kinds of odds and ends for breakfast (not the cheese popcorn, because I grabbed that for lunches - it was eons ago, but perhaps you read about that bit already) that I did not want to stuff in the checked bags, Coach and I started asking everyone if they had everything. 

There was a charger in the wall and no one would claim it.  Coach and I did not remember if it was already in the apartment when we arrived or not, so we continued to question everyone.  It wasn't until we got home that Tank suddenly could not find his charger.  SERIOUSLY?  The place was not that big - I think we have established that.  How could you NOT have heard us ask a million times ‘whose charger is this?’  He was bummed because it had additional USB ports.  There are not words.  But hey, at least we found his brand new raincoat on the back of his chair at the kitchen table - NOT with us in Vancouver where it rained a TON.  

It was an excellent vacation - full of sights and adventures and memories.  I am not going to lie, it was great to be home to enjoy personal space, multiple bathrooms, three televisions, a huge fridge and freezer (albeit covered in brown unidentifiable scum), three crock pots, and laundry facilities.  Home sweet home. 

October 11, 2019

airbnb: Hell personified, plus pics for proof

The actual apartment was great, if Coach and I had been traveling with one or two children.  The promised air mattresses did not exist.  There were 5 bath towels.  No kitchen towels.  Four dinner plates, etc.  Two cheap rolls of toilet paper, and one partial roll of cheap paper towels.  There were no garbage bags or a kitchen garbage receptacle.  At all.  

The smaller bedroom had a diagonal wall, so it fit one twin bed that Lad nabbed.  It was not possible to fit an air mattress on the floor in that room because of the angular space.  I emailed immediately and demanded that she deliver the air mattresses that she had promised, plus sufficient bath towels, and bedding. 

Master bedroom with twin air bed
 at the foot.  Can you say cozy?
We left the apartment for a few hours and when we returned they still had not dropped off the supplies. Finally at 9 pm someone dropped off a couple of queen air mattresses, a few blankets that reeked of smoke, and a couple more bath towels.  Trying to figure out where to stuff blown up air mattresses in this itty bitty place was the next dilemma.

One twin mattress, that Eddie claimed, went at the foot of the bed in the tiny master.  We then moved all of the stools into the kitchen from in front of the counter top overhang bar and slid them into the kitchen area.  Then we pushed the two love-seats and the coffee table up against the wall.  Now we could wedge two queen air mattresses onto the floor in the living room making it look like a trampoline room.  


Not sure if someone was being a wise ass,
photo bomber, or if they were just trying to
 move about in the crowded space.  Behind
the hand you can see someone - Curly maybe
sleeping on the coveted hallway twin
jammed down between the walls. 
The last twin air mattress we pounded on until it was stuck between the two walls in the hallway.  This meant that in order for Lad to get out of his room and maneuver down the hall, he had to step diagonally across the twin into the laundry closet, then take another giant diagonal step over the bed to land on the other side just outside the bathroom door.  

Our tribe of Shenanigans is not accustomed to fancy surroundings.  We have slept in tents in Yellowstone - even after they flooded.  We have jammed more people than you could think possible into a hotel room.  Our home sweet home is in a constant state of disarray and chaos.  We were bummed that the situation dictated that we had to reconfigure the space each morning in order to use the kitchen and the couches, and then back again when it was time to sleep.  


Three kids in the trampoline room.
 Reg, far left, Mini in the middle and Tank.
I think this is Curly's hair in the lower left corner. 
We were watching comedian Jim Gaffigan.  Note
 the air mattress turned on its side so we
 could sit on the furniture.  Reg, Lad, and Coach
 are sitting on kitchen bar stools. 
What can I say, we are a close family.
It should come as no surprise that no one wanted to sleep in the trampoline space.  The two twin mattresses were coveted by the kids.  Coach and I had to coax people into accepting their lot in life and assign sleeping spots.  One morning one of the 3 kids assigned the trampoline space, ended up curling up on the love-seat adjacent to the air mattresses.  We asked, but the answer was a resounding ‘No, it was not more comfortable than the air mattress, but so and so (I think Mini was the culprit) kicks too much.’

The times when we were awake, we mostly spent out and about in the city.  One of the days was our whale watching tour followed by time on Victoria.  By the time we arrived home it was basically the middle of the night and we all collapsed.  Lad managed to hook up his laptop to the TV one night and we crowded around the love-seats and the queen air mattresses to watch some Jim Gaffigan on Netflix.  We laughed our butts off.  He is hilarious and mostly acceptable for all ages.  Stuff that was not appropriate went over the little kids’ heads.

Of course I fully enjoyed the full size fridge and freezer, but assigning times for everyone to shower and finding places for towels to hang was a pain.  Of course we ran out of toilet paper and paper towels.  Coach hollered at me from time to time insisting that I must have missed something in the directions from the chick because the garbage was hard to deal with. 

This is the morning we left - bags packed, air beds
deflated, waiting for our driver to carefully take us
out of the building thru the garage.  A bit after
this photo was taken was when our children caused a
 scene at the gate as they fought for the last few
 handfuls of cheese popcorn that I packed.
I finally threw my hands up and motioned around the place, ‘Really?  You think I missed some detail about where we could toss garbage like a garbage shoot?  Look around you dude, this space-case was short on info.  Obviously!’  

Then he left me alone.  We continued to tie kitchen garbage in small grocery bags, stack them on the kitchen floor, and dance around them when we opened the fridge, etc.  

Why oh why was there no hidden camera to capture our airbnb doing an awesome imitation of a clown car at the circus?  We would be millionaires.  

Note:  hallway air mattress raised up at the end
 of the hall to allow Lad to exit his room and all
 of us to exit the apartment.  Ed and Curly eating
 breakfast.  This demonstrates perfectly why no one
 could sleep once anyone was awake.  Sorry, Mini.  
The morning we needed to leave for the airport, Coach and I were up early.  We were not leaving for hours, but we wanted to be organized.  Not to mention, there were 8 of us practically sleeping on top of one another, sleeping late was NOT happening.  I squeezed between the misplaced kitchen stools to make my oatmeal.  Coach showered.  One by one the kids woke up.  Eventually a half asleep Mini asked us what time it was.  We told her it was 8:30 am.  She was APPALLED.  Why were we already awake if our flight wasn’t for hours?  

More wild motioning with my arms around the place, ‘Well, I am sorry but in this place someone breathes and everyone is awake.  Or had you not noticed the shoebox we have been sleeping in for the last 3 days?’ 

October 9, 2019

getting there half the fun, or not, relying on WIFI & a dingbat


Our cell phones do not get service while outside of the United States.  No phone calls or text, only email or ‘what’s app’ while WIFI.  Note to anyone who enjoys normal cell service:  DO NOT EVER SWITCH TO T-FAMILY MOBILE THRU WALMART.  Enough said.  

I have no great photos of me trying to
 get in touch with Flighty Airbnb Lady,
so I thought I would share this gem.
  Us visiting a fish distillery.
If you recall, I suspected that our last minute airbnb reservation was most likely going to disappoint.  Would they have enough beds?  Bedding?  Every time I communicated with the lady, she managed to gloss over my concerns and focus entirely on the fact that we needed to be discreet.  No one could know that we were using this apartment as an airbnb unit.  I kept emailing her back, ‘Yeah, yeah I get it.  We will follow your instructions, but by the way about the number of people that the place sleeps . . .

I also kept reminding her that I would struggle to communicate with her while in Canada.  I could email her only while I had WIFI.  Every time we were in the hotel I sent her messages inquiring about how we were going to get into the unit.  I was looking for important details, like, um - THE ADDRESS!  She did not respond. 

We also hoped to be able to get into the place a bit early because we did not want to spend an entire day moving stuff from the two hotel rooms, to hotel storage followed by time to do some awesome sightseeing (that did not involve scaling a mountain in the rain), and then drag ourselves back to the hotel storage and then haul stuff to the airbnb.  I was also considering the food that I did not want to stick in storage in our coolers and hope that it stayed cold without a fridge.  Tank hoped the food would spoil, so we could eat every meal at a restaurant like ‘normal’ vacationers.  

A glimpse of the packing task.
She finally got in touch with me to say that we could get in the place early.  No address though.  It was like we were secret agents on a covert mission.  At last she explained that a driver would meet us at a Starbucks around the corner from our hotel.  It ended up being right next door to the airbnb.  She emailed me a time that he would meet us and we set to work packing our stuff and preparing to leave the hotel.  (It is implied here that packing our stuff up after several days is a CHORE).

Thankfully Starbucks has WIFI, so I could let her know that the driver did not show up as scheduled around 12:15.  He was over 30 minutes late.  When he arrived, he took our big bags, all of the big boys, and Coach into his SUV and drove them into the basement parking garage of the airbnb.  I waited downstairs with the younger three kids until Coach came down and let us in.  

Coach ended up arranging with this driver, who was super nice and was merely hired by the dingbat’s company and did not know her personally, to drive us to the airport a few days later.  This helped alleviate the stress of following the very specific directions about how we would exit the building (take this elevator and not that one) so as not draw suspicions that we were renting a space there. 

BECAUSE GOD FORBID ANYONE KNOW WE WERE STAYING IN AN AIRBNB THERE - DRILLED INTO ME, I TELL YOU!

October 7, 2019

a crazy-people-climb, birds of prey, foggy views

This is the next bit of our adventure portion of our trip to Vancouver:  
An eager hiker walked in front of me while I was taking a photo of the family just before our hike.  Take my word for it, we were all still smiling.  Ed and Lad and Reg enjoyed the ordeal.  They took off and we did not see them until the rest of us took our sweet careful time getting up to the top.  They did it in about an hour and a half we did it in about 2 hours.  I think.  I have tried to block it from my memory.  
The gondola:  transport
UP THE MOUNTAIN
 for sane people.  The Shenanigans opted
 to take it down only (walking down the
 mountain not an option as it is too steep. 
Hello?!  Why was this info not shared with me
 prior to our death defying morning?!  Curly and
 Eddie's ears/hair are in the left side of the
 picture after we got our ride down.

5.     Grouse Mountain:  Coach read about this in a tourist book.  Very popular thing to do.  You could either hike up the mountain and take a gondola down, or you could take the gondola both ways.  At the top of the mountain there were all kinds of cool shows and things to do.  


These bird photos in the
 fog turned out pretty cool..
I was sorry for the lack of other pictures.  
     The book described the climb up the mountain as suitable for avid workout types.  Um, they left out the rest of the phrase:  avid workout types who are in fact CRAZY!  I workout daily.  I run or walk about 5 miles most days.  In addition I do a 45 minute strength class most of those days (especially in the summer when I am not babysitting).  I consider myself in shape.  Coach is in shape.  Our kids are athletic.  

     















This hike was essentially 2 miles straight up a mountain.  It started to drizzle shortly after we started and the rocky path was wet.  I was worried I would fall.  With each step, we needed to examine where we could get a good foothold.  So not ideal!  I hated almost every minute of it.  

This is not Tank, but it could
have been.  The birds were
 a bit confused in the weather and they
were landing in random spots.  
     When we got to the top, we were expecting to see beautiful views - the best in Vancouver.  Unfortunately, it was all fog and rain and there were no photos to be had or views to enjoy.  There is a picture of me sitting, or basically collapsing, at a table in the restaurant at the top.  I refuse to share.  My hair is completely slicked back to my head.  I look hideous and miserable.  I felt similarly.  

     The shows that we wanted to see were mostly cancelled because of the steady rain.  We stood in the rain and watched the birds of prey show, which was cool.  By the way, Tank left his brand new raincoat on his chair in the kitchen in Chicago after I told him a million times to put stuff in a bag before I left so I knew he would bring what he needed.  Grrr.  He monopolized the umbrella while we all stood there with our raincoats on and our hoods up. 
Curly checking out glass blowing
 during one of our visits to Granville Island.



6.  We also really enjoyed taking the cute people-ferry over to the little island off of Vancouver called Granville Island.  They have shops, restaurants, street performers, an awesome market place, farmers market, etc.  Loved it so much!  We visited multiple times - the ferry was walking distance to both our hotel and our hellacious airbnb.  


More on that next . . . 



 






October 4, 2019

not in real time, get me my microwave or else, feeding the masses, Stanley Park

This is us getting off bikes to take a photo
at Stanley Park.  I am not going to lie, some fools
 rented those tandem bikes and had no idea how
 to ride them.  I was a bit nervous when a big group
 got close to us and I begged my gang to hang out
 a few times until a clumsy group passes us.  Who
wants to fall off of a bike on vacation, right Beth?
 (could not resist!)
Going to do this in bullet points, because it is now early October and this freaking vacation took place in July.  This is the drawback to NOT writing in real-time, but if I try to share shit as it happens, well - that would just make me frazzled and my family needs to eat, #2 is exhibit A:

1.      When the girls and I checked into the hotel, our room had no fridge.  I freaked out.  I chose this hotel because the reservation person assured me that I would have both a microwave and a fridge.  Not so much.  Our room was equipped with a fridge chock full of snacks.  If you touched the snacks (I mean picked one up and looked at it, but did not eat it and returned it to its specific place), you were charged.  (I know this because we WERE charged when the kids picked up stuff but did not eat it).  

     I called the front desk while staring at my enormous bag of food that Curly worried I had smuggled illegally into the country.  Much of it was frozen and therefore cooling the non-frozen stuff, but still.  I needed a fridge.  How was I going to heat up dinner without the microwave?  I tossed around my celiac disease and insisted that the fridge/micro promise was the reason I booked the room.  I was told the equipment I needed was on a first come first serve basis, and they were out.  I am not ashamed to admit that my squeaky wheel approach paid off.  I had a microwave and a fridge within the hour.  Phew!

Getting my space on the hotel desk
ready to make lunches.
2.    The boys arrived in Vancouver as the staff were cleaning our adjoining room.  The girls and I were hanging out in their untouched room waiting for our room to be clean.  Remember our cell phones did not get service out of the USA, so Coach could not text me to say they were thru customs and on their way to the hotel or any other kind of heads up.  I was in the process of making lunch.  They literally burst into the room, dropped their bags and demanded food.  That pretty much set the tone for the trip.  All I did was field questions like:  when are we eating, what else do you have to feed me, what are we eating for our next meal, can I have something else to eat?

3.    I tried not to let them snarf down everything in the first 5 minutes, because there was PLENTY of food.  Tank threw his arms up:  Are we at war or something?  Why are we rationing?’  This is the same boy that told the caddy master a few summers ago that he couldn’t be reached by cell phone because he did not yet have a phone.  The reason:   because his parents were Amish.  (reality, our kids don’t get a phone till high school).
Me bringing up the rear at Stanley Park.

4.    Stanley Park:  we rented bikes and biked around Stanley Park.  Very fun!  I loved that there was water, mountains, and a great park all in the middle of or in close proximity to the city.

The mountain part though, well - that backfired for us . . . 


October 3, 2019

VOTE NOW: unplanned post: outfit vote request, traveling tomorrow, (read story later if needed)!

Packing central on my bed.
 This picture does not do
 the softness justice.  These pants feel like butter.
  They are like leggings, but heavier than that.
 A denim color with white flowers and some
 green leaves and a touch of pink.  Love.
  
Mini and I went on a covert mission last night.  I am a weird shopper -one with expensive taste but who refuses to pay top dollar.  I buy things, and I hold off wearing them if I anticipate the price might be marked lower.  Then I try and buy them at a lower price.

In this case I bought the pants twice.  They were supposed to be $200.  I know.  But, they are cute, no?  I paid $150- knowing I would NEVER keep them if I could not get a price adjustment or buy them again at a lower price.  Then I bought a second pair at $100 several weeks later.  I have yet to wear either but Coach and I fly to NY tomorrow for Lad's senior water polo games, and I am ready to rip the tags off of ONE of them!

Last night Mini and I dropped Curly at dancing and then we drove to the mall.  I had called earlier and a saleswoman by the name of Joelle had told me that I could not return them and re-buy them right then and there. 

I dropped Mini off at a different entrance, because we were going to pretend we were not together.  You follow?  Our identical-ness is hard to deny, but we gave it a try.  I entered thru the door I always enter through.  I returned the pants at $150. 

Mini had cash in her pocket and planned to re-purchase the pants (that I had JUST returned) at a lower price.  I hoped they would end up being marked down to $50 after my return- a full 75% off the original price.  There were no more pairs on the rack, so we were hoping to buy this pair and then at a later date I could return the $100 pair I still had at home. 

Too bad you all could not have seen my daughter.  I am so proud.  She lived up to the Mini monkier.  She and I tried not to make eye contact.  Only communicated via text.  From across the store while I returned at the register, I spotted her in another section.  She waited until I saw her, and then she lowered herself like one of those fake electric animals on a Disney ride.  Once low enough so that I could not see her, she scooted to a nearby rack and slowly reappeared at full height.  I was watching her from over my cashier's shoulder.  I had to bite my lip to avoid busting a gut laughing. 

Option 1:  please ignore the orange sports
 bra peeking out at the top.  I quickly tried
 the clothes on when Mom stopped by so
 she could photograph me.  Um, that was
 an adventure.  My mom does not do cell
 phones.  She did something crazy and
 ended up taking like 35 pictures of each pose.  
Anyway, the saleswoman never put the pants back on the rack.  She left them folded on the counter.  Initially I continued to shop in an adjacent section and Mini circled the area like a hawk desperate for a pair of cute pants.  At one point, Mini texted me to meet her in the nearby lounge.  'Abort mission.'  I casually hurried to the lounge. 

Mini was worried that the my saleswoman (Joelle) and the saleswoman 'Evelyn' in the nearby section were talking about me.  Mini heard Evelyn come over to Joelle's section and say, 'I told her I cannot do a price adjustment unless there is another item still on the rack.'  I reassured Mini that Evelyn was not talking about me.  I had not asked her for a price adjustment.  We were back on track.

Eventually Mini and I met upstairs and continued to shop.  Me:  'Isn't this cute?'  Mini:  'For me or for you?'  Is there a difference?  Apparently. 

On our way out of the store, Mini tried again to buy the pants.  Now Joelle had them hanging on a tiny rack at the end of the counter waiting to be re-hung on a sales-rack.  I guess.  When Joelle walked away, Mini saw her chance, grabbed the pants, and started to march over to Evelyn's register. 

To avoid suspicion, I exited the building and told Mini I would pick her up at 'her' door.  She texted me that the pants had not been reduced.  The tag still said $150.  I texted back that the tag didn't matter - the computer would ring them up correctly. 

Alas.  It was too late, Mini had plopped them back where Joelle was storing them.  Joelle returned from the fitting room so Mini just stomped out to where I was in the car super frustrated.  I told her not to worry.  It was a rookie mistake.  I blame myself for not better training efforts. 

I knew I only had one baby to sit for today because another kiddo was sick, so I told Mini I would call the store in the morning and try to put them on hold.  If they were there, I would go back up to the mall with one baby and buy them. 

Option 2:  This is the white blouse option.
 Note the mean-ass pantry door in the
 background that tried to amputate my
 toe at 3 am.  My insides were still
adjusting to the colonoscopy aftermath and
I was experiencing a level of discomfort that
 only gluten free cereal can fix.  It is a cereal
I only eat in emergencies such as this.  I was
 left cleaning up blood and icing the toe while
 eating cereal.  Fun.  Before I went to the
 mall, baby and I stopped to have my stitches
 removed from a prior/separate injury.  THAT
 is another story.  I will share later.  It is quite
honestly, hard to be me at the moment.  All
kidding and colonoscopies aside, life has
 dealt a few frustrating hands of late and I am
waiting for something to turn around.
 Cute pants don't hurt. 
Especially when they are 75% off.
UPDATE:  Before I left for the mall, my mom stopped by to make sure she knew which key works in my door.  She will be unlocking the house on Sunday at noon so the kids can return from their friends' houses and work on homework and probably destroy a few things.  Anyway, I showed my mom my outfits.  I wanted to know if she liked it better with the blouse or the jacket. 

My Mom started laughing.  SHE BOUGHT HERSELF THE SAME EXACT PANTS MONTHS AGO.  Of course, she paid full price.  My description of what I do to get them at a discount makes her nervous as all Hell.

Show of hands for who thinks these are old lady pants?  That was Mini's orignal take on them when I bought them.  I think she has warmed to them, but knowing my mom bought a pair.  Hmmm.

I called right after my mom left and a different sales lady answered the phone.  She found the pants and put them on hold.  She told me they had been marked down to $49 - hallelujah!  I took the baby to the mall, walked in, and there was Joelle.  Now, I am not doing anything illegal.  The pants ARE for sale.  Anyone could buy them.  Still.  Awkward.

Joelle was standing on the other side of the register area talking to someone with her back to me.  A different sales lady asked if she could help me.  I pointed to the pants on the 'hold' rack and she grabbed them and greeted me with the fake name that I used when I requested them to be put on hold.  'Oh hi Veronica!' 

I whispered that I would be paying cash and I quickly put the bills on the counter and then bent down as if I was tying my shoe.  I messed around in my bag pretending to search for things for the baby.  I kept my face hidden by my hair.  Reached up from my bent position and accepted the change.  The lady put it in the bag and I checked to see where Joelle was.  She still had not turned around  - still talking to someone.  I took the bag from the saleslady and headed to the elevator with my stroller at record breaking, suspicious for shop lifting speed. 

People:  I have the pants. 

And that, is how it is done!

VOTE:  Sorry I was not going to tell THE WHOLE STORY, but it is a good story, no?  I head to the airport at 10 am tomorrow.  Would love your input beforehand - but will accept late entries. I did not think it would take me this long to post this little ditty.

I could wear the leggings/pants with a green jacket with a tank top under it.  I am not going to lie.  The jacket is from the early 90's.  There are slight shoulder pads in there.  OR I could wear it with the white blouse and a greenish cami underneath.  I had some cute new shoes I was going to wear but I was up in the middle of the night and I managed to open the pantry door across my big toe.  Bleeding.  Bruise.  I am now thinking I am going to go with open toe super comfy but very sharp sandals.