Presents for the Boys in the Pet Department and Elephant “Elephant Gifts”

It’s that time of year again: shopping for Christmas presents for the boys in the pet department.

Why in the pet department?

Because Boy8 asked for teeny-tiny stuffed animals for Christmas this year.  See, for a few glorious years some brilliant toy maker sold teeny-tiny stuffed animals that could easily fit in the palm of your hand with room to spare.  Teeny-tiny lions and teeny-tiny dogs and teeny-tiny horses.  They were adorable and Boy11 and Boy8 loved them.

When Boy8 asked for another one this year for Christmas I had a bad feeling that teeny-tiny stuffed animals were a passed fad and I was right.  I’ve scoured 3 different stores with nary a teeny-tiny stuffed animal to be found, not even in the kryptonite pink girl aisles.   Yes, kryptonite.  They haven’t done it much lately, but whenever the boys used to pass the pink aisles of the toy store they would drop to the floor and crawl past clutching at their throats and gasping out, “It’s…pink…kryptonite!  Gaaa!”

So, with no teeny-tiny stuffed animals to be found in the toy department I was forced to head to the pet department and get those teeny-tiny mice filled with catnip.  Surely some Ritalin will counteract the hyper effects of the catnip and everything will even out…right?

Along with buying my sons’ presents from the pet department, I had to drum up an “elephant gift” for a cookie exchange I’m going to tomorrow.  The same thing happened last year.  I went to the cookie exchange and had to bring an “elephant gift.”  I wasn’t exactly sure what an “elephant gift” was, so I found a quite hideous elephant with a clock in its stomach lurking in a corner of my attic and took it to the exchange.  Turns out the woman who won it was delighted with it and keeps it proudly displayed on a shelf in her living room.  The other women breathed a sigh of relief that they dodged getting the elephant gift from me.

But what the other women don’t know is that I have an extensive elephant figurine collection in boxes in my attic.  No, I’m serious.  I really do.  My mother decided I needed to collect something so she started sending me lots and lots of elephants.  I used to fill the furniture of my house with them, but after a while I got bored with them and boxed them all up and stuffed them in the attic.

I just remembered about 20 minutes ago that I was supposed to bring another “elephant gift” for tomorrow.  Five minutes later I came down from the (freezing) attic with my offering for this year.  It’s brass and is a little tarnished, but it’ll do.  Obviously they secretly want me to bring elephants or they wouldn’t ask for more “elephant gifts.”

photo (8)

Taken in the bathroom on the toilet. The elephant was on the toilet, not me. Why are bathrooms the only decently lit rooms in the house? Aren’t we all tired of pictures taken in bathrooms?

But just so I wasn’t totally lame, I also tossed in some very nice Christmas ornaments that I found in the (freezing) attic as well.

And now off to make a last batch of cookies for the cookie exchange and to wrap my elephant gift.  If you’re coming to the exchange and pick up a bag that feels heavy enough to hold a big brass elephant, pick another bag.  You’ve been warned.

I am Iron Man…er…I mean Igor.

Ah, Walmart.  My parents used to work at Walmart.  They hated it.  The managers would lock them into the building late at night and refuse to allow the workers to leave until all of the items that customers had misplaced had been put back where they belonged.  They’d be locked in there for hours past closing time.  The employees considered calling the police and saying they had been kidnapped but never did.

My parents told me that immigrants from Eastern European countries would work there for a while, but then would quit.  The immigrants said, “We left Chelstezistahn to get away from oppressive regimes.  You Americans who keep working here are crazy!”  No, I’m absolutely not making that up.

I found myself in Walmart the other day, oppressive regime or no. Sometimes I dash in and dash out.  Not this time.  This was a meander up and down the aisles misplacing items willy nilly kind of trip.

As many of you know, I get cold easily.  And I’m cheap.  Bad combination in winter.  This means that I freeze indoors because I’m too cheap to turn up the heater.  I rely on hats and long johns.

I don’t like wearing winter knitted hats inside because the dry winter air makes my baby-fine hair staticy in a knitted cap.  I was wearing my Steelers hat a couple of days ago.  When I pulled it off my hair stood on end and static sparks flew around the room almost igniting Boy8.

I prefer to wear hats that are acceptable to be worn indoors, like my  newsboy hat. (Google it.)  The only problem with my newsboy hat is that it doesn’t cover my cold little ears.

So I meandered to the hat section in Walmart to see what hats they might have that would cover my ears and would be acceptable to wear indoors.  I found this one, put it on, and looked in the mirror:

photo (8)-small

Oh my!  If that doesn’t make me look absolutely adorable!  Now I know why people think I’m sweet, I mean, look at me!  Don’t I look like a sweetie pie?   Gosh, am I cute or what? I admired myself in the hat for some time and snapped a few pictures.

But that felt more like an outdoor hat so I didn’t buy it.

My eye happened to fall on a wall of winter hats.  They were in all colors and had those little knitted strings at the bottoms of them.  I’m not sure what those strings are for.  I decided to put on the hat and tie the strings together so the hat would stay on my head.  I looked in the mirror…

…eeep!  Oh my!  I look like Igor from Young Frankenstein.   Or maybe a babushka from Chelstezistahn,  No, really.  I do:

photo (9)-small

Of course, it was slightly better without me making the face, but only just.  I mean, I took one look at myself in the mirror wearing the Igor hat and burst into cackles.  I had to get a picture of it, it was just so wonderfully absurd.  Unfortunately there were a few children nearby and I had to turn aside so they wouldn’t see me taking my pictures.  Didn’t want to scare them.  “And then we saw a witch in the hat section!  I swear mom, she was a real live witch! We heard her cackling!”

I didn’t buy that hat, either.

I meandered to the long john section and considered whether I wanted a white undershirt or a black undershirt.

And that’s when I saw it.  Oh, the angels sang and the sunrays burst through the roof of Walmart.

It was a long john-type undershirt, but it wasn’t the regular long john material.  No, it was fuzzy and thick and soft on the outside and the inside. And, get this, the sleeves were long and had thumb holes. (!!!) I’d never heard of such a thing, but it makes sense.  You can’t wear a long john shirt alone; you have to cover it with another shirt.  But thick fuzzy material like that would bunch up in the arms if you tried to put on another shirt. With the thumb hole, however, you can slide your arms into another shirt without bunching.  Oh, brilliant!

And cheap as I am, I bought it on the spot.  I considered telling Darling Husband that he just bought me a Christmas present and then waiting until December 25th to wear it but, nah.  I put it on right away.

Here’s a picture of the thumb hole.


No wait!  No, no…I’m er…not Iron man.  Not Iron Man.  Nope.  Just ignore that last picture.

Here is a picture of the thumb hole:


You can see how fuzzy and thick and cozy that shirt is from the picture can’t you?  The only problem is that I love it too much to take it off.  I’ll be pretty rank by December.  Maybe Darling Husband will get me a couple more for Christmas so I can take this one off and wash it.

How I Think I Look…How I Actually Look

I went clothes shopping today at the Gettysburg Outlets.

There I was, minding my own business walking past the stores, when I happened to glance in the window of one of those clothing stores for people in their teens and maybe their early twenties. I don’t even remember what the store was anymore, but I glanced in as I meandered by.

And there, beckoning, calling, frantically waving at me, was a gorgeous fluffy white vest.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  What an exquisite piece of cloth.  It looked like one of those sheepskin rugs that Ikea used to sell for people to put in front of their fireplaces and roll around on, naked.  Oh, come on, that’s the only reason people bought those rugs and you know it.  If you couldn’t provide evidence that you had a fireplace in your home they wouldn’t let you buy the rug.  I remember there was a big scandal because people were taking pictures of other people’s fireplaces and trying to pass them off as their own.  It was all over the news in the mid 90’s.

I had to touch the fluffy vest.  Had to.

I ventured in to the store with the music too loud and the spotty teenagers tagging along behind their parents and I felt that gorgeous vest.  It was soft.  It was fluffy.  It felt like a baby bunny.  And it was half off.

Half off!

I had to have it, teenager store or no.

As I walked through the store to the fitting room with my cheek lightly resting against the soft fur of the vest, I imagined how gorgeous I would look wearing my new bunny fur, sheepskin vest.

I would wear the vest and my hair would puff out in gentle waves.  My skin would be soft and smooth and I might even get an alabaster brow.  (Nod to fans of Anne Shirley.)  Darling Husband would take one look at me and fall even further under my womanly spell.  He would tell me how beautiful I am and coo love poems to me in Italian.  Well, maybe not coo.  I don’t suppose that men coo.  Well, whatever it is that manly men do, he would do.  Because Darling Husband is certainly a manly man, of course.  He wouldn’t be caught dead cooing.

And all this for half off the retail value!

This, this is how I would look:

Fluffy vest A

And then I tried it on.

Why, oh why did I even bother trying it on?  Why couldn’t I have stayed in that happy place where I was beautiful and desirable and 18 years old again?  No.  I had to go and try it on.

And when I did, I looked short and squat and every single second of my 40 years.  It didn’t help that Boy11 had a sleepover birthday party the night before and no one got much sleep.  The lines on my face and the bags under my eyes were deeper and baggier than ever.  The vest was supposed to be size small, but it fit on me about as well as a puffy vest from a men’s Big and Tall store would fit.

Basically, I looked like an Ewok wearing a tauntaun skin.  (Look it up  in wookieepedia if you need pictures.)

Here.  Here is what I actually looked like in that hideous fake fuzz vest:

Fluffy vest B

Not the svelte young thing of my imagination that could inspire men to give double takes and coo sweet nothings to me in Italian.  Nobody’s double taking, unless it’s the same double take you give the bearded lady at the circus.  I mean, seriously. Can you picture me showing up at church wearing that?  Or to Soup Day?  In a big old puff of fake fuzz?  For Christmas last year we got Boy8 a fluffy bathmat.  He loves fluffy bathmats.  This vest looks pretty much exactly like Boy8’s fluffy bathmat.

I scuttled out of the store, head down, past the teenagers and their parents and found a store for grownups.  I ended up buying three sensible button down shirts and a pair of jeans.

Huh.  Just realized I have a fireplace now.  I wonder whether Ikea still sells those sheepskin rugs?

Juggling, Bamboo, and Pictures from the Dressing Room

Photo Club today.  You may think it’s all fun and games at photo club, but actually…

…well, actually it is all fun and games.  See?

This is Scott.  Today he planned to teach us how to photograph Things In Motion, so he brought some balls to Photo Club.  Gerhard asked him, “Can you juggle those?”  Scott said he could, but he was a little rusty.  Tennis balls were flying everywhere, bouncing off people’s heads.  Well, not really, but they might have been.

Apparently we had a failure to communicate.  Scott kept juggling and juggling…and juggling.  Gerhard and I took a few pictures and quickly lost interest.  But Scott kept juggling.  Finally, after juggling forever he gasped out, a little desperately, “Didn’t you get the shot yet?

Gerhard and I looked at each other.

“What?  What shot?  Oh!  Yeah, yeah!  We got the shot!  Thanks for juggling…”

But Scott wasn’t the only one having fun.  After all the juggling, it was Gerhard’s turn to roll the balls around on the table while we took pictures.  Obviously, Gerhard was having a great time.

After Photo Club I went in search of a shirt.

This one is hideous.  What’s up with the round shadow just where the belly button should be?  It’s disturbing.  I left it at the store where it could disturb some other woman.

This next one seemed to fit well until I tried taking a picture and then it hitched up.  I will not buy clothes that I can’t take pictures in.  Earlier at Photo Club we thought we’d have to lie on the floor to take the pictures of the balls rolling around.  Scott asked if we were all dressed in clothes we could lie on the floor in.

I assured him I only buy clothes I can lie around on the floor in.  You never know when you’ll have to lie on the floor to get The Shot.

I didn’t buy this shirt because I can’t be tugging on my shirt every time I take a picture.

I grabbed this off the rack, thinking it was a sweater.  But once I got in the dressing room, I realized it was a cape with a hood.  As you can tell, I look goofy in capes.  And I look goofy without bangs.  Left it in the store, too.

These sweaters were nice and they sure aren’t gonna hitch up when I take pictures.

I couldn’t decide on a color, so I took a picture of both of them hoping that by looking at the pictures I could make a decision.

I liked the stripey one best.  The plain one shows every little wrinkle in my pants and is distracting.  Bought the stripey one.

Everyone needs a flannel shirt.  These flannel shirts are at Old Navy.  They’ve been there since 1994.  It says so on the label.  I wonder if I’m supposed to be impressed that Old Navy has been selling flannel shirts since 1994.

I’m not impressed.  I’m depressed.  It makes me feel old.  I mean, are they inferring that, “Shooooeeee!  We’ve been selling flannel shirts for a loooong time!  Ever since nineteen ninety-four!  That’s, like, forever!

Wasn’t ’94 just last week?

I don’t like this one.  I think it’s the color.

Yes, it’s the color.  Because this is the same shirt, but in blue and I like it.

Got home to find Darling Husband and the boys ready to head out to JJ’s Hibachi Buffet.

JJ’s decorated their tables with little bamboo plants.  While most of the other diners were up getting food from the buffet, I sat on the floor to get a picture of the plant.  (I told you so.  You just never know when you’ll have to lie on a floor to get the picture.)  It’s a little blurry, but the other diners came back so I had to get up off the floor.  I’ll try again another day.

Here’s another picture of the plant from a different angle, which didn’t require lying on the restaurant floor.

Hmmm.  I wish I’d focused on the part of the spiral that’s closest to the camera. Well, I guess we’ll just have to go back to JJ’s so I can try again!

I Stayed Up Too Late, Got Stuck in a Dress, and Bought a Used Card

Started off the day by sitting in the theater watching Hunger Games. Got out of the movie at 12:47 a.m. Got to bed at 2:00 a.m. Got up at 7:00 a.m. to take Boy7 to have his roller skating lessons. Really wished I hadn’t promised him those lessons when the alarm went off this morning.

Roller Skating Lesson

This afternoon I visited Kevin (from Photo Club) and his wife Brandi who just had some new babies. Here are pictures of their new babies. One is named Branson. The other hasn’t been named yet. They still call him Baby Boy ipad.

The new baby. Babies.

This is their fourth child.  There are only two gifts required for someone’s fourth child:  diapers and food.  But I don’t know if they have a freezer or even want my food, so I got them a gift card to a local pizza/sub/spaghetti place.  A few weeks from now when all the casseroles have been eaten and no one feels like making dinner, they can get a pizza or subs or spaghetti.

The guy at the pizza place put their giftcard in a little envelope.  When I left the restaurant, I took it out of the envelope to write the dollar amount on the card.  And when I did I was in for a surprise.  Look at this “brand new card”:

Reduce, REUSE, recycle

Yeah.  It’s not a brand new card.  It was completely beat up.  They take ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ seriously in our small town.  I had to try to convince Kevin and Brandi that the card wasn’t one that I’d had lying around in my wallet for the past four years, and that I really did buy it brand new for them.

This looks stupid

I also went dress shopping.  Groan.

I always try on so many dresses that I forget what they look like on me, and then have to re-try them on.  But after trying on about five dresses, I realized I could use Clarisse to keep track of what they looked like.  So here are the clothes I tried on once I realized I could take pictures.

The one in the picture above looks stupid on me.  And it’s not just because of the socks.  It needs sleeves.  And it’s too girly for someone with short hair.  It fits me, but it doesn’t fit me.

Horizontal stripes. Really? Who makes these patterns?

They’re right about horizontal stripes making you look wider.  Most women do not want to look wider.  Why do they make dresses with horizontal stripes?!  This is a no-go.

Does NOT fit

This one is too girly again, and really didn’t fit.  It doesn’t show up very well in the picture, but the top of this dress was so roomy I could have stored an entire loaf of bread in there.  This dress is for a very buxom woman.   Another no-go for me!

Almost. But not really.

Meh.  The neckline is funny looking.

Getting better.

This one is ok, but still something about it bothers me.  I think it’s the rounded neckline.  I look better in a v-neck.

This is a good one.

This is a good one.  The neckline is rounded, but it looks better than the last one.  I might get this one.

Not the mirror

After trying on so many dresses that didn’t look right (including the first five I didn’t photograph) I started to wonder if I was the one that looked wrong?  Or maybe it was the mirror?  So I took a picture in my own clothes that I wore today and they look fine.  In fact, they look better in the picture than in real life, so I think they must have warped mirrors in the dressing room trying to make you look better in the clothes.

And if that’s the case, then those dresses were really bad!

The pants I should have bought

Maybe instead of dresses, I could find some dressy white pants for spring/summer.  I tried these on and they fit great, but I didn’t get them because they were a denim material.  I should have bought them anyway.  But I didn’t.  And now I wish I had, because I can’t remember where they were in the store, and I don’t feel like going back to look for them.  (And–click on the above picture to see it better.  Who’s taking the picture!?  And where did my other hand go??)

Tall people clothes

Even when I stood on my toes, these were too long.  And you can see the pockets.  Which means you could see my underwear.  What do other people do about see-through pants??  Don’t the rest of you have this problem?  Who buys see-through pants?

I tried on two more pairs of white pants, but they look pretty much like the ones above, so no pictures. And a pair of pink pants.  And a pair of tan pants.

What?! More tall people clothes.

These were supposed to be capri pants (should hit mid-calf) and were the same size as the others…but they don’t fit right!  These are silly pants!  They look like something a very short man would wear.

This is all I bought

At the end, I found this dress.  I bought it.  Sleeves.  V-neck.  Hits at the knee.  Fits at the waist.  And has ruffles!  I’ve wanted a top with ruffles for about three years now, but usually can’t pull it off.  I’m happy with it.  And it has yellow.  I like yellow.

During the course of trying on 12 dresses, 7 pairs of pants, and 2 shirts, my hair (what little of it is left) had flattened to my head, I was pretty tired, very thirsty and famished.  What a workout!  I had to wait in line for the dressing room twice, got stuck in two of the dresses–one time was so serious I  thought I’d have to open the door and ask another customer for help, and my skin got stuck on three different zippers.  Ouch.

Darling Husband called while I was out and said, “Hey.  Can you pick up those pants I wanted from Kohls?  You can find them on the rack right outside the men’s dressing room.”  He gave me a waist size and leg length and, voila!  His shopping was done in under 2 minutes.

Sometimes I really hate men.