Category Archives: shopping

The Shopaholic Mama’s Guide to Back to School Shopping

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It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost time to go back to school. As such, I’ve drafted a special guide for anyone striving to get their shopping done as inefficiently and expensively as possible. Anyone looking to spend way more than necessary on school supplies this year has come to the right place. Follow these eight simple steps and you’ll be broke just in time to start your holiday shopping.

1. Do not cut coupons.

2. Do not wait for your local Back To School Tax Free Weekend.

3. Take your children with you on all shopping excursions to ensure maximum overspending.

4. In an unexpected fit of panic on a random Sunday morning in early July, buy uniform shorts and pants online (because they might run out!). Do this irrational and impulsive shopping before back to school sales start and prior to Back To School Tax Free Weekend (obviously). Also, pay for shipping.

5. Ignore the annual “buy a backpack and get a lunch box for free” promotion at Toys R Us. Instead, go to Dick’s Sporting Goods and buy uber-pricey Nike MAX AIR backpacks. Be sure to leave your $20 Dick’s reward coupon at home, and, it goes without saying, make the purchase prior to Back To School Tax Free Weekend. While you’re there, buy each kid absurdly colored, knee high basketball socks that cost $18 each – yes, $18 per pair or $36 dollars total (plus tax) – because they really want them. Justify the unintended purchase because Crazy Socks Day is coming up at camp.

6. Go to Target and buy two full-price lunch boxes prior to Back To School Tax Free Weekend (of course). Make sure the lunch boxes have blinking LED lights and sound effects because surely their teachers will appreciate how awesome it is that lunch boxes have transformed into toys. While you’re there, buy three lunch box ice packs that you don’t need because they’re shaped like a puppy, a monster, and a ladybug (so cute!). On your way to the front of the store to check out, grab a 5-pack of Lego Movie underwear and a 3-pack of super hero boxer briefs because the 999 pairs of underwear and boxer briefs at home are probably not enough. Also, give each kid a five-dollar budget in the toy department because they were so well behaved in the lunch box aisle. That, and neither of them made you take them to the bathroom. In the end, say yes to the $9.99 Lego City police motorcycle kit and the $11.99 Trashies Trash Pack because, let’s face it, it isn’t easy to find a toy that costs less than five dollars these days.

7. Miss the private “Buy One Get One 50% Off” promotion at your local mom & pop kids shoe store. When the public (and insanely crowded) “Buy One Get One 50% Off” sale begins, pay full price for one kid’s sneakers at Footlocker instead because that’s where he sees the ridiculously bright powder blue Nike high tops that he really, really, REALLY wants. Take the other kid to the mom & pop store and buy him sneakers that he doesn’t need because his current sneakers are in great shape and his shoe size hasn’t changed, but he really, really, REALLY wants new sneakers just like his older brother. Also, buy him a pair of navy blue Crocs to match the navy blue Crocs he has at home because you need to buy a second pair of shoes to get the 50% deal.

8. Purchase brand new uniform shirts for both kids because even though you have old ones that will fit your younger child, giving him hand-me-downs makes you feel guilty. You, too, were the second child and know how psychologically damaging it is to constantly get someone else’s old and used crap and be expected to amount to anything in life.

You’ll be relieved to know that I prepaid for my kids’ classroom school supplies through a PTO fundraising initiative at their school. Thank goodness because if buying pencils and glue sticks were my responsibility, we’d need a second mortgage on the house.

Stay tuned for upcoming guides on (1) how to overschedule your kids, (2) how to coordinate extracurricular activities that require you to be in two places at once every night of the week, (3) how to make everyone in the house cry over common core math homework, and (4) how to prepare a different dinner for every person in your family daily.

Parenting is hard. I’m here to help. Read other helpful guides here.

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Everything Is “Beachy” Keen!

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Look at this perfect picture! Perfect (symmetrical) kids! Perfect waves! Perfect clouds! Perfect blue sky! Perfect sand! Everything is “beachy” keen!

As soon as I posted it on my personal Facebook page, I thought to myself, Look at me posting perfection. How annoying.

It was a perfect moment, but it was just a snapshot. Shortly afterwards, Dylan had to pee. Badly. He wanted to spray a nearby palm tree, which led to an unexpected teachable moment about the illegality of public urination. I would’ve sent him straight into the water to do his business, but it was a windy day and the water was rough. The lifeguard towers posted red flags, which meant the waves were huge and the rip current was strong, and the boys were only allowed to splash at the water’s edge. In the end, I held on tight to his hand, and we braved the surf together so he could relieve himself without getting arrested.

Perfection crisis averted.

Overall, we had a really nice day. After the beach, we walked back to my in-laws condo and swam in their pool, ate their food, and, as usual, spilled apple juice all over their floor. In the late afternoon we headed home for dinner, a bath, and bed.

“Two more sleeps after tonight until you see Daddy,” I told the boys (and Gertie) at bedtime.

Mike’s been out of town since Mother’s Day. He’s been gone for nine nights, or two trash days (how I tend to mark his absences), and we’re finally in the home stretch. I’m getting pretty good at managing the kids when he’s away. I didn’t even cry when I spent five consecutive hours at the ice skating rink on Saturday for Dylan’s hockey clinic, Riley’s skating lesson, and a free skate (and a soft pretzel and a bucket of popcorn and several bathroom runs) in between. I’ve kept the kids busy, happy, fed, clean, rested, and healthy, no one has missed a day of school, and I haven’t been on a single shopaholic binge! But still, my tank is nearing empty, and while I’ve kept up with the kids nicely, the home front has suffered.

The day Mike left, our washing machine sprung a leak. (Happy Mother’s Day!) Also that day, my laptop lost its connection to the printer, which was unfortunate because (1) I’m a writer and (b) I don’t know how to fix it.

In fact, I don’t know how to fix a lot of things. Over the last ten days, I’ve counted at least five light bulbs that need to be changed. I should specify here that I do know how to change a light bulb. There’s no need for any “How many Mamas does it take to change a light bulb?” jokes. I just don’t know where the extra light bulbs are located. My gut tells me they’re in the garage, but currently there’s a TLC camera crew in there filming an episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” and I dare not interrupt. By the time Mike arrives home, we’ll be surviving on the flames of citronella candles.

Speaking of light, the fuse that powers the kitchen and dining room lights has blown at least five times. I have no idea why it’s happening or how the hell to fix it, but kudos to me because at least I know how to reset the fuse.

I already mentioned this, but it bears repeating. I’ve taken the trash out twice. Believe it or not, I’d rather fold laundry than haul garbage to the curb. In other “home ownership sucks” news, the pool pump is making a weird slurping noise, and the refrigerator doors aren’t sealing properly. I know this because if the doors are left open too long, it beeps…and beeps and beeps and beeps. Now, no matter how firmly I close the doors, it beeps. I hear it. I do. I really do. I keep trying to close the doors super tight. Sometimes I succeed, but sometimes I don’t, and I’m getting frustrated because I have no idea where the “stop fucking beeping at me” button is, and it just keeps beeping and I want to hit it with a baseball bat, but I can’t. It keeps Kefir and cheese sticks cold, and I can’t mess with that.

Even more exasperating, every time I start my car, it alerts me to “change engine oil soon.” Change engine oil soon. This is particularly annoying because the oil light is not on. I repeat. The oil light is not on. My car is giving me something to worry about before there’s actually something to worry about, which is funny because I’m the world champion of worrying before there’s actually anything to worry about.

Finally, I’ve developed a mild case of pinkeye, for which I’ve been pilfering the kids’ old, expired stash of eye drops. This is par for the course. Like a body that rejects a new organ, my body always eventually rejects single motherhood. Of course, now that I’ve made this nugget of contagious information public, the kids will surely wake up pink-eyed tomorrow.

Yup, everything is “beachy” keen here! If there’s a silver lining in this latest installment of “My Husband Is In London…Again,” it’s that: (1) I want (and need) to learn to be more handy around the house. That, or I need to hire a staff. (2) Absence does make the heart grow fonder. I really, truly miss my appliance repairman IT guy handyman, electrician “stop fucking beeping at me” button finder husband. (3) Fleeting moments of perfection are a good thing. They’re real and lovely and peaceful and healing…until someone has to pee in a rip current.

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