Monday, November 24, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
You know how people are always saying crazy phrases that don't make any sense at all? Like "I froze my ass off"? Well I literally ran my tits off. My working out has made sense of a non sequitur idiom. I'm not bragging about my breasts previously known as large - trust me, I don't find that to be an asset. I was banished to department store basements looking for my grotesquely large cup size. I mean, Heidi Montag and I were only one letter apart at my largest. I don't know why she did it - I would get mine reduced, but why enlarged? I guess she can afford custom-made bras. I guess she doesn't run and doesn't care about her posture or her back or have kids to lift. I guess she actually welcomes the attention of creepy men who look just at your breasts without ever looking at you. Me? I am happy to be able to now go to a regular store and buy a bra. There's a Meghan Trainor song that says something like, "we all want to be different, that's what makes us all the same." Well, in the case of my bra size, I just wanted to be the same.
So of course, this meant I needed to go bra shopping. I've read that 80% of women wear the wrong bra size and I knowingly have been up until this shopping trip. I know what measurements said would be my size, but you really can't buy a bra and expect it to fit without trying it on. And no way in hell was I doing this with my two little boys in tow. I can picture it now: them crawling underneath dressing room partitions, knocking over clothing racks (yes, my siblings and I did those things as children).
Since I was out on a rare shopping excursion sans kids, I decided to do a return. I have some jeans that are a double digit size from the time between Brandon's birth and Holden's pregnancy. There was a time when I determined not to wear maternity jeans anymore. Obviously I never stuck to it because they have the tags still attached. I knew if anyone could get store credit out of them, it would be me. These jeans are years old, but I'll manage it. I believe exchanges and returns are a bit of an art form. It's a gift that I have; I just have a knack for it. I get an odd thrill from getting something back from a store when I shouldn't per their return policy. I'm an outlaw, really. Just a white-collar outlaw.
I have never met anyone who shares my love of exchanging and returning. It makes people jittery, nervous. They end up hanging onto new things they'll never use just to avoid the whole rigamarole. Well just return the shit already! You have money sitting in your house. Money you spent. It's time to reclaim it! So here's how to do it. First thing is to scope out the cashier options. Just casually walk by and look for the right kind of person. I used to go for older cashiers, thinking they can't see very well. This was a strategy I employed when returning slightly used items. I thought their older eyesight would neglect to find shrunken pant legs, tags taped back on oh so carefully, but also obviously if you take a good look. That was my first mistake. The older cashiers take their sweet ass time. And glasses correct vision problems, for Chrissakes (yes, she has glasses! They were just hanging on a chain when you walked by originally). I don't know what I was thinking. They are usually too hardened from years of bitchy shoppers returning things the wrong way that they don't want to help you. They will find a way to deny your return.
So what you want to find is a cashier with hustle. Someone who is relatively new to the retail world and still cares about customer service (but not brand new! They will call over a manager! You don't want that) but also takes pride in never needing to ask for help. Once you're at the register, be polite and relatable. This is the mistake most people make. They are frantic and pissed from doing the return in the first place and it transfers over to the cashier quickly. Just remember: you get what you give. Yesterday I found a bossy young man with Ray Ban glasses who wriggled his way into a situation to offer his expertise. I wouldn't have normally even tried this, but since I observed his behavior, I asked (very sweetly and naively of course) if this coupon would apply to my purchase (I totally knew it shouldn't - my item was clearanced). He scanned the bar code, frowned that it didn't work, then just punched in some manual discount code. When I asked him about them being busy (find something they can talk to you about! It will distract them and make them like you - everyone likes someone who allows them to talk about their interests), he told me how much their store did in sales that week. It seemed like proprietary information that a mere customer shouldn't have, but for that moment, I was his confidant, his friend.
Then I got to the store with the return. Keep in mind, these jeans are years old without an original receipt. I found another young man, this time training a new cashier (jackpot! That means not a manager, but a good worker that definitely isn't going to ask a manager for help with someone watching him). He asked if there was anything wrong with them (the dreaded question most shoppers blurt out something stupid at). I smiled at him and told him, "no, nothing wrong with them, they've never been worn, I just lost so much weight that they won't fit anymore."
"Good for you!" he congratulated. For a second, I was a Biggest Loser contestant and he was a fan of the show, proud of my hard work. We bonded instantly. He gave me much more than I originally paid as store credit with which I bought a black blazer and still have a gift card left over.
I came home and relayed my retail successes to Steve, who listened with mild interest (oh, you also got the $10 gift card with our Target receipt from earlier today when you forgot the coupon? Nice!)
I might take even more pride in my returning abilities, now that it is my only method of making money. Not long ago I returned a broken bubble maker toy (never buy those! They never work!) without any bubbles left in the canister, the whole assemblage barely held together with too much packing tape. "I can't believe it worked!" I exclaimed. Like I said earlier, I'm an outlaw, really. Just not in the bad ass Jesse James kind of way.
Posted by holly at 9:45 AM
Thursday, November 13, 2014
In the months that I've been making an effort to not be grossly unhealthy, I've noticed that a lot of times when I reach for something unhealthy, it's not really because I'm craving it, but because I'm used to it. It's a habit. We have coupled unhealthy choices with another one - handcuffing one to another one.
Once you choose something unhealthy, you usually pair it with its partner. Like:
Hamburgers with french fries
Pasta with wine
Pizza with beer
Nachos with margaritas
And my personal favorite - donuts with coffee
Even our entertainment is paired with unhealthy consumption:
Movies with popcorn...and then popcorn with gigantic soda
Shopping with an Auntie Anne's pretzel. And with an Orange Julius
Dancing with drinking
Karaoke with cocktails
Sand volleyball with beer in plastic cups
Video games with Doritos
Gambling with drinking, then drinking with smoking
So to curb this, I have created my own duos:
Running outside to girl power songs
Salads with water (yeah, this craze hasn't caught on)
Running on the treadmill with Bravo TV
A bath with a book
Puzzle races with more singalong songs
If I sit on the couch and watch TV, I will probably snack on junk food, because it's what I'm used to. So now, if I'm going to watch TV, I do so from the treadmill. Instead of letting my mind's autopilot take over and me remembering what goes with what I'm doing or eating, I am recreating my life into healthier duos. Reading never went with anything unhealthy anyway, and that's one of my favorite ways to spend my free time.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
I have talked a lot about having a third child. But I really haven't thought that much about it. I have thought about the two children we already have and about money and about babies, but not actually about a third child. I have thought around it without thinking about it.
So for the past few days, I resolved to actually think about the reality of having a third child in this house. I thought first about logistics. About losing our guest room or forcing Brandon and Holden to share a room. I thought about how to transport them all and actually Googled if it is possible to fit three car seats in a standard backseat (sometimes, barely, rarely: you should probably instead invest in a minivan). I thought about money getting tighter and cringed at the thought of becoming one of those people who bitched about money but kept having kids (I know you know those people too - we all do. They're everywhere).
Then I thought about how at HyVee today, Brandon shoved the whole sample cookie into his mouth at once and I had to retrieve it with his sweatshirt. I fucking unzipped his hoodie and covered my hand with it, grabbed into his mouth, took out the pieces of half-masticated cookie, then wiped around Brandon's mouth with the sweatshirt. I thought about how last week I discovered Holden chewing on one of Tucker's rawhides. Sometimes I can barely keep the two I have alive, I thought. What do I think I'm trying to prove by having three? That I am SuperMom? None of us are believing that.
A third child is not going to force me back into my unlazy parenting of one where I carried around a diaper bag, watched him every second, and never even considered the idea of "me time." No, I will still be traipsing around town without any baby essentials, existing on my basic parenting philosophy of hope. I hope no one has a blowout because I didn't bring any wipes. Hope doesn't always prevail. We're never so far from home anyway.
The jump from two to three seems like a big fucking deal. I mean, two is standard. Three is a little nutsy. Four and beyond, people start asking if you're a Catholic or Mormon and have to bring religion into it as if there is no reason other than God's divine will for that many children to belong to one couple.
But when I stop thinking about logistics and money and my own selfishness and shortcomings - when I think about a baby itself - I realize that if it happened, we would figure it out. I could have twenty kids (someone resuscitate Steve - this is hyperbole) and I would love each one and treat each one like he or she is the most special person in the world. But I am a responsible person. Logistics and money and my own selfishness and shortcomings are to be considered here. If I acted on every whim that traipsed in and out of this la-de-da little head of mine, I'd be in some serious shit. Like, quite possibly, literally swimming in shit. It's hard to tell. It would be nutsy, that's for sure.
So like the last time I blogged about this, I agree that I'm not ready to say "no" to having other children. But this time, I am sure as hell that I'm not ready to say "yes" either.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
The way children love is pretty fucking unbelievable. It could be what I love most about being a mom. I love getting to experience that love: to feel it - to be wrapped in the big hugs and covered in the sticky kisses that are its currency. Here is what I've noticed so far about how children surpass adults in the love department:
- Kids don't hold grudges. In fact, it seems the last thing they want to do is rehash an unpleasantry. They understand how to say or accept "sorry" and to jump to the next thing. They forgive, and they forget. Or if they do remember, they don't keep bringing up old shit.
- Kids accept your emotions. They don't avoid them or tell you not to have them. They aren't trying to change you or tell you not to feel a certain way. The few times Brandon has seen me cry, he has come up and given me a hug, and patted me on the back. He isn't a coach, rallying me to get my head in the game. He knows I'm sad and that there is no better remedy for that than love.
- Kids aren't self-conscious. Which means they dance when they hear music, they shout when they're excited, and they cry when they're sad. I admire their transparency. When people say having kids makes them young again, I think what they mean is that they realize there is a better way to live than the adult way. Seeing the world the way a child does makes the world a much better place.
- Kids want to spend time with you. They haven't learned to be cynical and look for faults in people yet. They haven't edited friends to a specific type. They haven't learned disdain and superiority. Instead, they want everyone to be a friend: they play with you and find something to enjoy alongside you. It's pretty awesome, not feeling judged for what you say or do. Not having to apologize for mispronouncing a common word or rewearing yoga pants too many days in a row.
- Kids will say what they feel. In my whole life I haven't heard, "I love you," as much as I have in the little time Brandon has known how to wield it. And he tells me he missed me every morning when he wakes up. I swear this really happens without my prodding. Because kids are sweet and loving by default. It's us adults that fuck them up and take that away from them.
- Lots of hugs and sticky kisses. This exact phrase is from a Five Little Monkeys book (I can quote plenty of children's books). But I couldn't say it better myself. The physical manifestation of an emotional feeling. I don't know why adults feel so ashamed to be seen kissing and hugging each other. It's beautiful to see love in the world.