On my birthday, Curly, Ed, Tank, Mini and I hit the mall to return or exchange stuff on our way to Reg's 4:30 pm basketball game. Normally going to the mall with this group would make me a little nutty, because there would be so many different agendas and a wide spectrum of enthusiasm for shopping. Since it was my birthday, they all opted to be on my page.
It was their page too: some of them were hoping to get store credit for the polo shirts from Nana (my mom), or exchange jeans, etc. As I mentioned, my mom shops for 22 grandkids - remarkable. She doesn't always have a great handle on sizes - particularly for my boys. Add to that the fact that my boys aren't really in need of polo shirts, particularly those that are a size too small, and we had some work to do. My mom also shops VERY early and continues all year. Some stores won't allow a return if the item was bought in, say, June. It's all good, everyone got things they really did like/perfect fit from her and we will donate the shirts that no one will use. I might try to find a way to suggest to Nana that the Shenanigan men (including Coach) are not in need/favor of polo shirts (like, ever again). Something to ponder.
Back in the day when I cleaned out the boys' closets, I honestly felt like I could open a Ralph Lauren resale shop. Any color, any size - you name it, we had it.
Anyway, we divided and conquered and got stuff done. Fun fact about me: I LOVE GETTING STUFF DONE OFF OF MY LIST. You knew that though, right? Since there were piles everywhere in our house of stuff that needed to be handled, this was a decent way to spend my birthday.
The girls got Zara jeans for Christmas. Sort of. One of Mini's friends recommended these jeans, because they come in long lengths or full lengths. Zara might be a game changer for my tall girls. I had them pick out what they wanted on line *thus my SORT OF label above*. The jeans arrived before Christmas. They didn't fit. Crazy tight. We reordered and took back the original order on my birthday.
Curly still hasn't found a pair that fits her. Long story but a 0 was too small. A 2, also too small. Mini's size 4 were way too big on Curly. It's a riddle.
This store, like my house, was up for grabs when we attempted to solve the sizing riddle in person. There was no rhyme or reason to the stacks of clothes, probably because so much was being returned, plus the fitting rooms were closed. We're trying again with another online order for Curly. Updates will be shared as warranted. I'd never heard of this store. Am I alone?
We went to Vineyard Vines next while the boys were apparently dealing with a grouch at Macy's. She was ticked that they had polo shirts from June to return, but they had no idea when Nana bought them. Last Christmas Nana bought Mini a frilly Vineyard Vine sundress that was more suited for a little girl. Mini was blown away by how much she received on a gift card for the dress. My kids don't really like the clothes at Vineyard. Too preppy, I guess. So, I've been walking around with her gift card for a year. *I still owe you a post about how great Mini is, but ahem, there are issues. Let's just say a gift card in her possession would do a disappearing act, as in WAIT, WHERE DID I PUT THAT?*
I used the gift card to buy solid, long sleeve t-shirts for Mini for Christmas. I also bought Aunt Leprechaun's daughter, who like VV clothes, a birthday gift. I had no idea how much was on the card, so imagine my surprise when I paid with the gift card and all I owed was $3.47. I was like HEY, WELL DONE, ME.
Mini didn't like the shirts, even though the whale logo was subdued. The sleeves weren't long enough, etc. I may or may not be raising monkey-armed children. When we returned the shirts, the cashier should've given me the funds on a gift card. She asked for my credit card, probably because of my $3.47, and then put the whole amount back on my credit card. Bonus. Mini was relieved too since we can buy something at a favorite store now and not be obliged to forced to shop at VV.
Just before we entered the preppy store, Ed called me with an update. This is when I learned that the Macy's woman was a beast. Two of the four shirts couldn't be returned. Tank got a gift card for his shirts but couldn't decide what to buy with it.
My advice to Tank told to Ed: TELL HIM DON'T BUY ANYTHING - WAIT TILL HE NEEDS SOMETHING.
Elementary, right? Has he not met me? Was he raised by wolves? Or, I guess, wolves with big bank accounts?
Me to Ed: WALK TO THE CAR AFTER TANK LOOKS AROUND FOR A FEW MINUTES, AND BUYS NOTHING. DRIVE OVER TO WILDFIRE (my favorite restaurant) AND WAIT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS. WE WILL PROBABLY BE DONE BY THE TIME YOU GET THERE.
Have I mentioned to you that I'm always in awe of the many career paths out there that I never knew anything about? Well, I think I should've gone into logistics, because as we exited VV Ed called.
Ed: WE ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS OUTSIDE WILDFIRE.
Me: OK, WE ARE WALKING DOWN THOSE STEPS RIGHT NOW.
Yes, in case there was any doubt, I am THAT good.
It was like I had a getaway car ready, in the form of a minivan, in case shit got ugly at Vineyard Vines in case I was tempted to tell someone they didn't look good in stripes or something.
Next time we meet, I'll share another shopping story, Reg's game, and dinner out. I have an opinion, discussion starter, on purses coming up in the near future too. Get excited.
Is there a career that you knew nothing about in your youth that now appeals to you? Would you tell Nana, we're solid on our polo shirt pieces? Do you have your people pick out there gifts in advance? Or do you go full on surprise mode? Who wants to be responsible for reminding me that I owe you a Mini-issues post?
That sounds... exhausting. I went into surprise mode this year, kind of. I mean, I know what the guys like and I went from there. The jeans thing is a mystery, all I can think is that maybe they were in different "fits?" Like, some are slim fit, some curvy. I know I have bought jeans in the exact same size but because they were different "fits" they fit me completely differently. Hope this comment makes sense, it's early and I'm tired!
My daughter is obsessed with Zara clothes, luckily they fit her really well. It's a Spanish store so might just only recently have made its way across the pond to the US. Shame we aren't closer to you as my husband lives in Polo shirts and would gladly take them off your hands! It's difficult to know whether to tell parents what you like and what you don't. I would say definitely tell her, but I don't tell my mum what I don't like each year, so actually - say nothing!
PS I hopefully just sent you an email for your Christmas poem
I don't like to go clothes shopping so this post sounds like a level of hell to me. Still, I'm glad you sorted things out. Could you not tell Nana about gift cards? Seems more practical in the long run. She'd be giving her grandchildren the gift of shopping!
I buy everything I wear online. Because I live in the same basic clothing items.
Work Uniform: Levi's Denzien's jeans (straight leg), black or navy ribbed tank top from Old Navy, Amazon Essentials cardigan in any plain color.
Home Uniform: Black leggings from Old Navy, ribbed tank top from Old Navy, and a long sleeve t-shirt or a sweater/sweatshirt if it's cold enough.
Ironically, I love the long sleeve t-shirts from Vineyard Vines, but then again, I'm a lady in my mid 40's, and like the Nantucket WASPy aesthetic.
You'd probably be excellent at logistics. You're used to getting multiple moving parts to the same goal.
Oh my gosh - I used to LOVE shopping and now it sounds like a nightmare, LOL. So glad that you got it done and it went well!
I wouldn't recommend telling her about the Polos. She would be annoyed and/or offended and probably still continue to gift them to the guys in your family. Your mom annoys me but the fact that she buys gifts for 22 grandkids is impressive. My mom has two grandkids and relies on me to purchase gifts for them (and for me and my husband).
I regret not discovering my love of true crime shows until my late 40s. I think being a detective or a forensics specialist would be so much fun.
Also, not a fan of Vineyard Vines.
I've never seen a Vineyard Vines store, I didn't make the connection until now that those are the whale shirts. I have seen people wearing them, I'd probably wear one. I'm short, so finding jeans that don't need hemmed is a challenge. It has also become something of a joke among my friends that every time I buy a pair of jeans, the store goes out of business. (Fashion Bug, K-Mart, Christopher and Banks, Dress Barn, my local Belk, probably others.) So if there are any chains you'd like to see go under... I last bough jeans at Dress Barns going out of business sale, due to stay home/work from home the last couple years they are still in good shape - though kind of tight, work from home equaled work next to kitchen.
My friends and I share our Amazon wish list links, so if I can't come up with a good idea on my own I have someplace to turn to.
I find my parents hard to shop for, but several friends lost parents this year, so now I'm just trying to be grateful I still have parents to shop for.
Please post on Mini!
I only shopped online or in person where it is easy to return. Kids give me a list - if no, I get what's needed. (Yes, socks and underwear are good presents on my list!) And I usually ask the kids to find another sibling to take the present if they don't want it. Next year - I want to try no presents, just experiences.
*snort* "monkey-arm children"
Gently tell Nana that the guys have more polos than they can keep up with thanks to her generous nature.
I generally ask for ideas; pick a few to buy and then do a full on surprise. Sometimes this works out great; other times not so much. But I do try to get what I know they most want from their lists.
Checking stuff off a to-do list, shopping, eating dinner out sounds like a great birthday. I also like to check things off and I write everything down, even the most mundane things. I feel so accomplished when they are checked off, lol.
If I could live my life over and choose a different career, it would be as a forensic scientist. I find that shit fascinating and watch every CSI episode I can get my hands on. And wouldn't you know it? 5 minutes from my home, adjacent to the NYS troopers barracks, they just built a huge forensic facility! They didn't have that 40+ years ago. Oh well, maybe in my next life.
I would tell your mom that the kids don't need any more polo shirts and explain to her how much easier gift cards are to give. No carrying packages, no wrapping, no having to make a decision. If you make it sound like you want to make her life easier (which you do and it would)it may be more palatable.
As far as gifting and keep it a surprise as opposed to having them pick stuff out ahead of time, I generally listen to wishes and wants throughout the year and write it down (a secret to do list, lol) and shop from the list. Most times I get it right.
Nicole- I should've mentioned that it was like 40 out so shopping was comfortable. Yes, the jeans were definitely high waisted vs. Low rise. I believe thst played a role in it.
Charlie- I had no idea Zara was a thing and we were the last to know. I will tell my mom that your hubby like polos and maybe she will hook him up.
Thanks for the email. Christmas card and poem headed your way . . . soon-ish. Reg tested positive today and Coach is sick. He can't get a test till tomorrow. So things are a little dicey at the moment.
Ally- I laughed at your 'level of hell' comment. I wonder if money why I enjoy shopping and I think it's because there are deals to be found. There was a time, when Lad and even till Tank was a tot, thst I was addicted to garage sales. Shopping the sale racks is a more sophisticated, always available garage sale.
Kara- knowing what you want to wear sounds like a way to bypass buying and trying stuff on and returning stuff when your, ahem kids tell you it looks old lady-ish . . . not that I speak from experience or anything. Imagine the time you save.
I think I missed the boat on logistics. I could've been the boss there. For years I ran a parish garage sale that I started. Logistically complicated . . . and I loved it. It essentially combined my greatest loves: shopping and making things happen.
Suzanne- honestly since covid when I couldn't shop, my heart isn't as into shopping as it once was. My bank account rejoices. Might partly be that we don't really go anywhere anymore.
Beth- I know my mom would be open to the feedback about polo shirts. I think I need to find the right angle or approach or time.
Yes, being a detective or forensics person would've been so interesting.
The VV clothes are so cute, but the prices irritate me. It turns me off. Then I see people who must wear EVERY article from that store and it seems very status symbol-ish and over the top. My kids' high school is very diverse. I think that is why they prefer middle of the road clothing. Nothing too showy.
Jenny - What happens to you with jeans, happens to us with hair products. As soon as Curly would find a product that would word for her - bam, discontinued. Why?
Short jeans must be a challenge too. I forget that Old Navy carries long lengths and now when I look, they only have xxl in long sizes and those won't work for my girls.
Amazon wish lists are a good idea. I've never created one. My dad sends us a list of exactly what he'd like for Christmas. My mom is really hard to shop for. I got her a very cozy fleece like sweatshirt thing and my favorite smart wool socks this year. I usually do nice clothes, but she isn't going anywhere. Sigh.
me - Nice reminder - but I might need an extra reminder after I post what I intend to post this week. I do want to post about her college search, so I might remember all on my own to post her 'issues' because it is sort of a precursor.
I am all about socks and underwear for Christmas - I usually put those in the stockings. I love the idea of experiences vs stuff. Let me know how that goes.
Gigi - Glad you enjoyed my monkey arm remark. There is a family portrait taken in 2016. Mini is perched on the side of Coach's chair and leaning towards him. Her legs look mangled and twisted and baby Elk-ish. We do animals well.
I like your suggested approach with my mom on the polo shirt thing. I think she generally does better or enjoys shopping for the girls better and the polo is her go-to.
I love gifting surprises. So fun. This year I got the girls lulu lemon leggings and they WERE surprised. Surprises are harder and harder to make happen, I feel.
Cheryl - Twins-ies with the writing down things - even the mundane, because YES I love to feel accomplished too.
For a while when Lad was a senior in high school, he wanted to go into forensic science. We took him to look at a college that also had a forensic science department. Reg and I had to fly to Montreal for dancing world champs. Coach did that leg of the trip with them and then we all met up in DC later. Anyway, the forensic guy that spoke to them had a lisp or spoke in an unusual way and the kids CANNOT say forensic without imitating him. Coach had all of them with him minus Reg. It is a family favorite memory even though we didn't all witness it. Quite the aside, but yes - forensics would've been so interesting.
Imagine if she didn't have to wrap. She wraps all of the gifts in the same wrap for each family. You have a good angle, this would make things easier for her. Amen.
H and L lost not one but TWO of balls over the summer. They are Reg's fav for playing gutter ball at the pool or at the lake. One was lost. I replaced it. They lost the next one on the VERY last day of the pool for the season. During a rare moment of clarity, I ordered a new one for Reg's stocking.
I am also a list maker & love the satisfaction of checking things off the list. I hear you on the odd sizing of woman’s clothes. I have had the same experience- one size I can’t get on, next size up is way too big. Makes no sense.
What a pro you are when it comes to managing the shopping, exchanges and meetups. Yes logistics sounds like your thing. I hope your mom would welcome the helpful feedback. I often have to exchange the gifts I get for grandchildren. This year as we were leaving to travel for two months on Jan 1, I just brought along the receipts & handed it to the parents - they already have it? Here you can exchange it!
For having so many humans shopping/returning at once, you are the Master Planner and Executioner. (not the murderous type)
My Grandma (may she RIP) always bought the weirdest things for my girls as she got older. The clothing was never correct, but we always appreciated her efforts. That being said: If she continued to gift us Polo Shirts, I might have to drop a hint that we have enough polo shirts.
Lists are my life and checking things off of them gives me great satisfaction. Is that a career path for me too?
I'm exhausted just thinking of all the cooking you do for your large group; you are Mom Of The year!
There were a few surprises this year, but they were just little things. The ONE big thing each girl asked for was not a surprise, but they were super excited. A Roomba for a girl with a Husky? Enough said.
I'm happy everyone DID what you wanted on your special day.
Pat - List makers unite! I like to stick to the same brand of clothing for me - then I know what size to buy. The girls are changing things up and not interested in skinny jeans. What? So, different cuts and different brands . . . fun to figure out.
I like your plan. My mom doesn't always do gift receipts. Last year she got Reg something that would've fit him 5 years earlier. I asked for the receipt and it was full of all kinds of gifts for all the other grand kids so I had to use it and get it back to her. Two things I hope to get her to understand: we are good on polos and my boys are BIG.
Enjoy your months long vacay.
Suz - I had the girls make dinner recently. I had all the ingredients. They just had to make the meal. I admit, it was labor intensive. Mini almost collapsed. I made PILES of veggies to bring to Coach's side for Christmas. Overboard. So we've been eating lots of meat plus leftover veggies. Well, Tank has had enough of leftovers. I made two crockpots of chili the other night. Everyone's fav. Doubling up tends to help me from going insane and cooking everyday.
Ah, if there is a cross-that-off-my-list job then you and I need to apply. Fun fact, I use discarded envelopes for immediate lists like groceries and focused lists that I need to get done immediately. It's like my lists have lists - I break away from the long list to make my short envelope lists so it looks more doable. My coat pockets are full of envelopes with lists on them.
A trip to the mall might run into a road block here or there. I was glad the stars aligned that day.
A husky owner would most definitely be head over heels for a Roomba.
Grandma's shopping - it should be a reality series so the world can see how they approach stores and what they think while they are choosing things. Inquiring minds want to know. :)
I'm glad everyone behaved too.
You are so funny, I sure have missed you and the goings on in your family. You always manage to make everything work out just fine one way or the other. Happy 2022 to all of you!
MARTHA! - I seriously just thought about you this morning . . . realized I hadn't checked to see if you were done with your blog pause and figured I better check to see if you'd posted anything. Great to hear from you. Things have a way of working out. There just might be a bit of a bumpy path on the way to it.
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