Friday, September 16, 2011

Raiding Paula's Closet

Shopping.  Love it.  Always have.  Always will.  Er, unless you are Chris reading this... and in that case...Shopping.  Meh?  Who needs it?  Shopping is for losers.

I know I have a problem.  But it's something I was born with.  Congenital Shopping Disorder.  Go look it up.  (No don't, I made it up).  It's been that way since I was little bitty bitty.  Always loved shopping.  Always.  Go ahead and ask my mom.  She'll confirm it.  In fact, one of my earliest memories was saving my money to buy my very own pair of red high heels.  Oh, those red high heels.......

I was probably around 7 or so.  I saved and saved and SAVED my allowance to buy those shoes.  See, they were in the display case of this ladies shoe store that was in the same strip mall shopping plaza as my ballet studio.  So every week, I'd dreamily press my nose to the window of that store on my way to dance class, fingers drawing circles on the glass, gazing longingly (read:  shoe stalker) at my prize, picturing all the fun I'd have tottering around in those red high heels. 

Exhibit A:

Not exactly they, but it was the closest picture I could find.  (Word of advice:  be careful when you google red satin high heels.  Especially if you are on a work computer.  Just saying.) 

So where was I planning to wear them, you ask?  I wasn't.  There was no planning.  No reasoning or rationalizing.  Was it a good investment for a 7-year-old to spend all her hard-earned money - we're talking hours of dishwashing and tablesetting and bedmaking - on a pair of hooker heels, you ask (sorry, Mom, but you know it's true)?  Decidedly not.  But none of that mattered.  All that mattered was I WANTED THOSE RED HIGH HEELS.  And my parents were the kind of parents who let us make our own mistakes, within reason.  And I'm guessing my mom saw the prostitute shoe purchase made by her second-grader as a Future Teaching Moment.  So as it was, I saved up my (here is the worst part...) $15 (yes, fifteen dollars) and I bought those shoes, daggummit.  They were a size women's 5, and I wore a 1, but do you think I cared?  It was a proud day when I walked out of that store with that box tucked under my arm and I went home to do what?  Click clack around the house in my hooker heels playing Barbie, teacher, Princess Leia, who knows.  

Fast-forward to eighth grade.  Take one short, skinny 13-year-old.  Add a terrible - and I mean TERRIBLE - short, mullet haircut (well, it was the eighties, ya'll), a pair of glasses, a faceful of teenage acne, some misdirected eye make-up application, and a mouthful of pre-orthodontically-altered malaligned teeth and, voila, you have Adolescent Me. 

Dorky, insecure, Adolescent Me who was desperate to be liked, to fit in, to look like the popular kids.  My mom (reluctantly) handed over her credit card so I could get a bathing suit from 5-7-9 while I was at the mall on one of my marathon eight-hour-hang-out-at-the-mall-Saturdays with my friends, since we were too young to drive and too innocent to know we could do anything else.  Her two stipulations for the card were:  1) that bathing suit better be a tasteful one-piece, and 2) that bathing suit better be the ONLY purchase made with that credit card.

Wanna guess what happened?

Correct.  I got to that mall with my friends, suffered an acute attack of my Congenital Shopping Disorder, and charged every single thing not nailed down.  Did I worry about the wrath I would suffer when I got home loaded down with bags of purchases?  Um, no.  Did it concern me at all that I was blatantly disobeying my mom and violating the tenuous trust she put in me when she (reluctantly!) placed that card in my hands?  Sadly, no.  Did I know what I was doing was wrong?  Yes.  But all reason and good judgment were usurped by the image staring back at me from the poorly-lit dressing room mirrors.  And the underlying fear of being unpopular and my desperation to be as un-geek-like as I could possibly be. 

Because as we all know, cute clothes make everything better.

And... Bam.  Another Teaching Moment for Vivi.

Fast forward to the year 2000.  I meet Chris Thomas, the most decidedly anti-shopper you'll ever meet.  Doesn't like it.  Does not get the point.  Particularly doesn't understand why anyone, namely me, needs to have more than one pair of black shoes.  And when those shoes wear out?   You don't buy new ones, you take them in and have them resoled!  Resoled.  Umm...resoled?  What is that?  Isn't that when you sell something on consignment?  No, you take your shoes to a cobbler.  Umm...a cobbler?  Isn't that a dessert?

Surely you see the paradox.

It's kind of a bone of contention between us.  A tiny one.  Not big, like a hambone or anything, but little.  Delicate.  Petite.  Like a fishbone.  Which can be really annoying if it gets stuck in your throat.

Sure, I've tried to convince him that inside I'm still the scrawny, pimply, bespectacled 13-year-old that simply has to have the Jimmy-Choo-clutch-J-Brand-skinny-jeans-Vera-Wang-boots to fit in with the popular kids, but he's not buying it.  At all.  Pun intended.

Therefore, in an effort to maintain the peace, we have a tacit agreement:  I limit the symptoms caused by my shopping disorder to sales and consignments and extreme bargains and he, in turn, politely ignores the furtive rustling of bags in the hallway after my "errands" and the surreptitious UPS packages deposited by our front door.

Which brings me to this.

The other day I was stalking on-line sales/business as usual, when I came across this cute little blog written by a girl who is a vegetarian.  And since I am always trying to find ways to force incorporate vegetables into my kids' diets, I was all about the tasty vegetarian recipes on her blog.  She also happens to be really into fashion, and tries on all the latest trends, then photographs herself wearing them so you can get an idea of what they look like on the average person.  One thing leads to another, I'm jotting down healthy meal ideas for my family, critiquing her fashion choices, yada yada yada, and then...  I notice a link to an online designer consignment website.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  I click. 

Lo and behold, I discover fashion designer resale nirvana!  This website sells super ritzy items at super good prices.  And all the stuff is authenticated original, so no fakes.  AND... best of all, they give you a history of the item, like, these shoes were worn by so-and-so to the 2009 Emmy awards.  A marriage of my two favorite worst obsessions:  shopping and celebrities. 

So of course I make haste and sign up on the mailing list with my shoe and dress-size so I can start getting email updates of sales of cool items available in my size.  The first email that popped into my inbox this morning?  A sale.  A ton of designer clothes, shoes, and bags in my size worn by none other than only one of my biggest idols back in the eighties when I was gawky, bespectacled, snaggle-toothed Sarah...

Miss Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul, ya'll!  Straight up!  Her closet.  On sale.  To the general public.  So essentially you can cyberly go through her closet and look at all her clothes.  Isn't that so cool?

And wouldn't my geeky self look so cute cooking spinach-mushroom crepes in that black-button D&G pencil skirt?  Or tottering to Aria's soccer games in those sky-high Gucci clogs?  Or those Chanel pearls draped around my neck as I vacuum the house? 

I know, I know.  Yet again, my reality doesn't really match up with my dreams.  Or my bank account.  And honestly, I'm happy it doesn't.  I get a heckuva lot more pleasure out of cooking, vacuuming and cheering my little World Cup champion in my Target jeans and Gap tee-shirts.

But... it's still fun to see what's in Paula's closet!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I just looked at my blog and realized I only made one post in the month of August.  One.  That is so unlike me.  If you could access my posting link, you would see that I actually started a dozen posts in August but only finished one.  Sigh.  A methaphor for my life.  Starting a million things and barely finishing one.

Chris and I are on the board of an adoption ministry at our church called CHOSEN (Christ's Hope for Orphans - Supporting, Embracing, Nurturing.  Catchy, ain't it?).  It is very near and dear to our hearts, and we passionately devote as much time and love as we can to this ministry.  But when the current leaders of CHOSEN, who are in the latter weeks of expecting their third daughter, asked us to take over their position as leaders of the ministry, Chris and I both froze in our tracks.  Impossible.  Not for lack of concupiscence, mind you, but for the simple reason that we feel like we are in a perpetual state of behindness.  That's probably not a word, but it does acurately express what I'm trying to say.  Put it this way, after prayerful consideration about leading the ministry, I turned to Chris and said, "I feel like I can't give 100% of myself to anything right now, because I'm too busy giving 10% of myself to everything".


As it is now September, I can say with great mirth that summer has officially drawn to a close in Plano, Texas, and preschool has begun.  Most moms I know are nostalgic, dreading this day, swiping at tears as they walk their pink, frilly, be-bowed girls through the halls of the institution that will be attempting to learn their youth of numbers, letters, word and song.  My own response to this annual August rite-of-passage (anyone?  anyone?)...


Oh yes. 

Praise God and Jesus that summer is over.  Thank you, thank you... THANK YOU.  Oh, joy, joy joy.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the carefree days of sleeping in until - er, 7, playing at the park for all of twenty minutes until we were all "soaking sweaty" and the red plastic slide became too hot for scooting the tiny booties of my children.  I enjoyed the family bike rides that usually ended one mile in when my child declared it too hot, and alighted from her bike in the middle of the sidewalk in favor of a neighbor's errant sprinkler defying the water-ban rules that only allow sprinkling bi-weekly in the dead of night.  And I just loved the proclamation that "we're bored, Mom/what are we going to do now/when does school start?"

Actually, in all fairness, we had a pretty awesome summer.  We had nice trips to Hawaii, North Carolina, California, and Colorado.  Aria got to go to camp with her cousins, and had many fun sleepovers with her grandmother.  We had fun swimming/tubing/sailing at Lake Cypress.  And of course there was Pool.

But let's be honest.  Almost every fond memory I have from the summer is bookended by screams of, "Mammmaaaa, YaYa hit me!!  Mommmmm, Caroline is not sharing!!  Saraaaaaaaaaaaah, no more internet shopping!!" 

After awhile, it really started to get to me.  Especially that last one.  But I digress.

I actually began the summer with a list of goals I wanted to accomplish, or more specifically, wanted Aria to accomplish.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1 - Learn to make your bed
2 - Learn to write your name 
3 - Learn to swim
4 - Solve the Pythagorean theorem

Okay, maybe that last one was a stretch, but it puts the others into perspective.  They're doable, right?

See for yourself: 

So my Mom pride is kicking in a little.  Okay, a lot.  I'm so proud of my Princess A.  She met and exceeded all of my (reasonable) goals for the summer, and is even on to learning to read, thanks to a little help from this book.  The first day of school arrived, much to my delight, and we have now settled into a little routine.  We have some exciting things on the horizon too:  Aria's first Clemson game, Aria's first soccer game, and Caroline's second (SECOND???) birthday. 

Don't let those beautiful smiles fool you.  This is the REAL thing:  

I'm ready for cooler weather, college football, the routine of school, and shorter days which lead to earlier bedtimes.  School is in.