Category Archives: shopping

The Pants Situation

Most people would never guess, just from talking to me, that I’m a closet Pulp Fiction fan. Especially the segment called ‘The Bonnie Situation.’ The entire premise is just funny – and who can resist Harvey Keitel as The Wolf? Not me. But this weekend was dominated by a scenario that was right up there with the ludicrosity (word? or not?) of Quentin Tarentino trying to keep his wife from finding out that a dude was shot in his car.

The Pants Situation.

Let me start out by reminding you that I have boys. Boys. Not Girls. Boys are supposed to be much easier in the clothing department, right? Right.

Apparently not mine.

The main problem has been that our weather has been so stupidly unseasonable and warm that the guys got used to shorts and t-shirts. Until November, that was the MO. With no problem. But then it got chilly, my mom instincts kicked in, and I had to flex my parental muscle. You just DON’T wear shorts and a t-shirt when it’s 50 degrees outside. You don’t. And any kid that’s almost eight years old should get that, right?

Wrong.

I tried to minimize the fuss by going out and buying them pants – the same kind of warmout pants that they both lived in last winter. Got the right sizes and everything. Brought said pants home and –

They rebelled. Refused. Flat out refusal.

So this past weekend I told them that we were going shopping and THEY were going to choose pants for themselves, because shorts are no longer an option. Even if it means I have to hide every pair of shorts in this house.

Off we headed to our little chain store here in the burbs. Sorry, but my budget doesn’t extend to the current Abercrombie/Aeropostale craze. It just doesn’t. Headed to the boys’ section – and – Armageddon. Really. Apparently making young boys choose and try on pants initiates a level of bodily pain akin to an amputation without anesthesia. At least, that’s what all of the nearby shoppers thought on Saturday afternoon. Complete meltdowns on both kids’ parts. And the kicker? One kid found two pair of pants that he liked. They fit. He was happy.

THESE PANTS WERE THE EXACT SAME TWO PAIR THAT I BOUGHT TWO MONTHS AGO THAT ARE STILL HANGING ON THAT KID’S BEDROOM DOOR. Really. Can’t make this stuff up.

So, back the two pair went to the store racks, with the directive that my youngest kid WILL be wearing said pants from now on. The other kid left the store pouting, whining and pantsless – no luck in his size, and lots of short sleeve shirts that he liked. No dice. Not happening. Short sleeves were NOT on the agenda.

I waved the white flag and we went off to dinner. The saga continued yesterday at another chain store in our burb. Youngest kid looked at shirts while the older one and I quested for pants. After much whining and protesting – success! Two pair of pants that met with his approval, along with the same directive – said pants WILL be worn.

But in the midst of this I had to cave. Ended up with both kids pouting about short sleeved shirts they liked. Why in the &%$# do stores put out short sleeves in January? Just to make parents suffer needlessly in some deranged marketing ploy? Guess so. Anyhow, I finally told them that, IF they found two long sleeved shirts they could pick ONE with short sleeves.

After another forty five minutes of bodily-limb amputations (sans anesthesia, of course) we finally succeeded. I went home and took a nap.

My one thought was this: if it’s this bad now – whatever will the teen years be like? And I had to take a moment to once again enjoy the fact that I have boys – because I realized that, if I had girls, I would probably have killed them right then and there. In the middle of Target.

What causes your kids painful amputations? Am I the only one here?

Who knows – maybe Quentin could use this in his next movie – mom goes postal after shopping with kids. The Mom Situation.

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Filed under Kids clothes, Moms, Pulp Fiction, Raising Boys, shopping

Over the Platform

Today’s post has absolutely nothing to do with the New Year and/or resolutions, life changes or goals. Sorry. Actually, I’m not. Given that everyone in the office seems either stressed out or in the familiar post-holiday funk, I need to liven things up a bit. The result is today’s post. It’s something that’s been on my mind for a while, but I lacked any kind of inspiration to write about it.

That all changed on Tuesday.

What happened Tuesday? Well, one of my fam’s New Year’s Day traditions is leaving the ‘burbs for the city and hitting up the mall. Early, mind you. It’s honestly the best time to go – usually empty until around lunchtime when the hung-over masses emerge from their cocoons and hit up the food court for greasy cures. This year was no different. Except for one thing.
I should have known something was up when our usual secret parking garage was packed. Packed. Not just full. I’m talking packed – as in, every parking space on both levels was occupied, tens of cars were circling like vultures and people were actually hopping out of vehicles to scout out newly-open spaces on foot. Really. Once we finally snagged a space and made it to the relative safety of the department store in question, we realized why.
THE ADDITIONAL 50% OFF SALE
I’m not sure why this was such a big deal. It’s the city, after all. Bargains are always out there for the frugally-minded adventurer. But, for whatever reason, this particular sale brought out throngs of crazed shoppers intent on grabbing as much as possible. Worse than Six Flags on a summer Saturday, or the State Fair on Texas-OU weekend. It was bad.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic here. But I had to paint the picture for you as I tried to navigate through the store and into the mall. Past one of my required departments. Shoes.
Now I wouldn’t say I have a shoe obsession by any means. Compared to some of my friends, I’m downright thrifty. But I always like to look, and my Spouse appreciates a few suggestions here and there. He’s figured out that shoes are a pretty good go-to if he’s stuck for a gift idea.
So there I was, perusing the shoes as best I could through the masses, and one thing really stuck out.
WHAT THE HECK IS UP WITH THE EXTREME PLATFORMS??
I’ve got nothing against platforms. Seriously. I’ve got several pair of them at home and I do actually wear them. But everything that I saw this week was so over-the-top extreme that I had to document it. We’re talking Unwalkable Shoes here. I’ve got a friend from college who calls them ‘valet shoes’ because the prospect of actually walking in some of these is a no-go. Or at the very least, a recipe for disaster. I get that. If your lifestyle requires that you attend Events dressed to the nines, go for it. Mine doesn’t. But even if you are such a fashionista, I’m thinking even you would have to pass these up:


That is, unless you’re a sixteen year old from the year 2132 named Judy Jetson.

Really? Who on earth would even try to wear these? And of those women, who would ever think they would look good? I’m thinking that even Debbie Gibson or Madonna in her heyday would call these out for Extreme Neon.
Maybe they’re leftover from the last run of Mamma Mia. Hmmm…
But the more I looked, the less unusual these shoes seemed. Apparently the trend is toward extreme stilettos with extreme platforms. No wonder more and more women look like Amazons. It’s getting out of hand.
And before anyone starts telling me that I’m dated or behind the times, I’ll say it again. I do have – and regularly wear – stilettos, platforms and combinations thereof. I mean, I was cleaning out the depths of my closet the other day and found my prom shoes:

 See? I’ve come a long way since then. But I’m too klutzy – and not enough of a slave to fashion – to venture down this extreme road. I’d break an ankle, at the very least. Several bones at the worst, and I’d probably manage to take a few others down with me. So these are definitely a no-go for me.
What do you think? Crazy regional trend? National phenomenon? Oooh – I’ve got it! It’s a governmental conspiracy to incapacitate women. I could go all political here! But you know what? I won’t. I’ll leave that to other people who will have more fun with conspiracy theories than me.
And yes, I did have to put in today’s mindless fashion post. But in case you’re wondering, I DID come out of said department store with a lovely green sweater – after only waiting five minutes in line. SCORE!!

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Filed under Fashion Trends, Houston, Moms, Platforms, Shoes, shopping

A Secret Motherlode

I have a confession. Ready? Even though I love the city, the culture, being downtown, local markets, off-the-beaten-path places, etc. etc. etc. – part of me can’t let go of the ‘burbs entirely. After all, I was raised in suburbia. Granted, my parents considered that the ‘Big City’, considering they grew up in a town of 1100, but still… My hometown was in the suburbs. And that’s where I live now, albeit a different suburb of a completely different Big City. Not necessarily by choice – as my blog description tells you – but by situation. The Spouse and I went round and round on that one when we bought our house twelve years ago. I was all for the in-town loft, he wanted the white picket fence just in case we had kids someday.

Guess where we still are? Yup. Actually, the fence is brown, but you get the idea.

Anyhoo, one of the suburban quirks that I can’t let go of is my love of Target. It’s a problem. I go in for one thing and come out with a cartload. I’ve actually been banned from the dollar section. Seriously. If I were a hoarder that would be my downfall. So what’s the problem? I hate suburban Targets. I do. See, they’re always full of suburban mommies – many of them SAHM’s – but that’s not the problem. If I could stay home, I would. The issue is the type of suburban mommies that congregate there. You know the ones. The ones who have a few minutes between tennis and the mani-pedi. The ones who get all done up in the latest Miss Me jeans and Jimmy Choos – in full makeup and hair – with toddlers in tow.

I’m sorry, but when my kids were toddlers I was doing good to get to Target in actual clothes and not pajamas. Forget showering, makeup and hair. I have no idea where these women get the time and energy to do that.

So, given my love of Target, you can imagine my glee when a coworker told me about the Secret Target near the office. It’s less than a block from the highway, yet completely invisible from the access road. If you weren’t looking for it you would never know it was there. And I’ve been there many times since my first excursion. It’s awesome! Since it’s in the middle of the city, near the bus line and surrounded by apartments there’s always plenty of parking. The only issue I’ve had with the parking lot is that apparently people call cabs when they decided to go buy furniture – so there’s at least one cab waiting at the front on any given day. But that’s just a minor annoyance. Nothing like the ten SUV’s parked at the curb at my neighborhood Target. Inside, the good stuff is hardly ever picked over and decimated the way the ‘burby Targets get. I’ve found the size I was looking for every single time I’ve looked for clothes.

Amazing.

Even this week, two weeks before Christmas, I only waited in the checkout line for three minutes. THREE MINUTES! Stupendous.

Granted, they let me down in two areas today:

1 – One of the items I was looking for was priced at double the amount Amazon wanted me to pay. Strike One.

2 – Today I was slowed down by the umpteen businessmen with shopping carts wandering aimlessly around, staring vacantly. Suggestion – have a big Man-Sized Map for Lost Guys. Big enough and bright enough so that men won’t have to wander or actually ask for directions.

What’s your secret spot?? Do tell!

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Filed under Moms, Secret places, shopping, suburbs, Target

The Girls Down the Hall

I’m in a shopping moratorium. Yep, on a budget and sticking trying my darndest to stick to it. The holidays are coming, boys are getting older, house needs maintenance – you name it. I’m really trying.

But I’ve got a problem. The Girls down the hall.

See, our office dress code is officially Business Professional. But it could more accurately be termed Ultra-Conservative Business Professional. Meaning closed-toe shoes, skirts a maximum of three inches above the knee (the official measurement from the employee handbook), common-sense necklines, muted colors, etc. etc. etc. And that’s fine with me. Really. But when I started here I had to do some serious shopping. My fairly-dressy-for-an-elementary-school-teacher wardrobe just wasn’t going to cut it. So I shopped. And, I must say, managed to come up with a good solid Business Professional foundation.

Then I saw the Girls down the hall. For a split second, I was envious enough to want to work in their office – they seemed like a fun bunch. But after a few days’ observations, I realized something.

I don’t fit the job description. They do.

What job description? The list of qualifications that includes a height of at least 5’10”, long shiny flowing Taylor Swift-esque hair, a model size 00 figure and a perfect hand at applying the latest cosmetic trends. Seriously. They all fit the mold. I don’t. Enough so that I get the feeling of looking like I just rolled out of bed (even though I spend at least an hour on myself every morning) if I run into one of them in the elevator.

How does this relate to my current shopping drought? Well, everything that I’ve seen lately in the shops (that I thought I had to have) doesn’t fit the office dress code. But it sure fits theirs. Although I have had to remind myself a few times that, just because something comes in my size doesn’t mean I should wear it – at least to work.

Examples:

Seriously Sky-High stilettos
The grey sequined blazer
Brightly colored animal prints
Skinny jeans
Skirts that look more like a bandeau top
Leggings – with a black sequined mini
Skirts and dresses a minimum of three inches above the knee
Tops that enhance and show off the – erm – chest area

Now admittedly, I wouldn’t have bought all of these items – or even worn them – but they are actual items seen around the building. For real. Part of me wonders what kind of brain cell fires off when deciding to wear this stuff to an office. But then it hit me.

They’re real live Clackers!

Yes, Clackers. If you’ve never seen The Devil Wears Prada, I’m sorry for you. You’re behind the learning curve here. (Completely unrelated tangent – a friend of mine from high school works for Conde Nast and I’ve been tempted, more than once, to ask her if there really are clackers in the building. But I never do. I don’t want to seem like a hick tourist.)

What does any of this have to do with anything? Not a whole lot. But it just goes to show that you can always find wild and weird stuff going on somewhere in the city…

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Filed under Budget, Careers, Fashion, shopping, Work-Friendly Attire

Wanderings in Westchase

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Ever since I first started coming to Houston, before we even lived here, I have loved the Westchase district. Always full of energy, people and hole-in-the-wall food joint – I just love it. It’s one of the only places in H-town where you can drive down a major road surrounded by lush green trees. So different from driving in Dallas. In fact, the Westchase Hilton is our favorite staycation spot for a weekend getaway: killer views (of the lush greenness, ) one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve had and a top-ranked steakhouse on site. Not bad for a one-stop getaway.

But of course it’s impossible to stay in when visiting this intersection of diversity. Drive a few blocks and you can stop off at Cafe Mezza for some Mediterranean fusion that’s really affordable (plus the best tabbouleh in town – even Lance liked it!) Or off to Sherlock’s for a cold beverage and live music. Shopping? We’ve drooled over minimalist furniture that we could never afford at Cantoni and loaded up the soccer-mom-truck at Ikea on the same trip. Seriously.

OK, this is turning into a travelogue for Westchase, but that’s not my intention. Now, if you choose to check it out – that’s your business… 🙂 I’m just continually amazed by new sights every time I come down here. Where else would you find the Chinese and Colombian Consulates within walking distance of bustling office buildings and pawn shops? The diversity never ends. And don’t even get me started on the shopping experience that is Harwin a few blocks down…

I used to teach down here. Those two years put a new spin on this neighborhood for me. Because behind the professionals busing to work and the restauranteurs creating their masterpieces, there is poverty. I only thought I knew what ‘living in poverty’ meant. To my sheltered, north Dallas suburban mind I always thought of Beltline Road in old Farmers Branch whenever I heard that phrase. No. Not even close. Drive off the beaten path, down a few side streets and you’ll find apartments. Lots of them. In fact, every single student I taught for those two years lived in an apartment. The motto was, ‘If a kid tells you they live in a house, they don’t belong here.’ Ok. No big deal. Until I realized that most families shared their apartment with at least one other family, if not more. We’re talking two-bedroom apartments here. My eyes were opened. And the biggest shocker was that Westchase is not even considered ‘inner-city’ around here. Needless to say, I learned so much about being grateful and thankful for the blessings you have. The dichotomy of thriving business, shopping, diversity and poverty still overwhelms me when I think about it.

But I still love Westchase. It’s my favorite H-town hangout. This little strip of Houston allows me to step out of my bubble, experience a new world and count my blessings. Check it out if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

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Filed under diversity, food, Houston, inner city, shopping