Why Sarah Shouldn’t Be Allowed In Craft Stores

A friend of mine is trying to pare down her stash of craft supplies.  My punishment for snickering at her pain (in sympathy, sheesh) was a bagful of gorgeous embroidery floss and a roll of 14-count Aida cloth* metaphorically let on my doorstep with a note saying, “You know you want to.”

I do and this was the perfect excuse to make time for a project I’ve been thinking about off and on for a while now:  I wanted to make a framed cross stitch of one of my favorite poems.

The poet is a very-much alive friend (hi, John!), so I asked permission and he immediately granted it, because he’s a nice guy.

Last night, I sat down with a calculator, a ruler, the back of an official-looking envelope that I should probably look at more carefully once I finish this post, and this nifty little online program.

An hour (or two) later, I had a basic pattern and a problem.  Because this other nifty little program told me I didn’t have enough Aida cloth, unless I skipped the border and the framing margins.

Luckily, it’s my day off today, so I had time to run out this morning and buy a bigger piece.  Unfortunately, the only place that sells that stuff . . . is the craft store.

You don’t send an alcoholic to the liquor store.  You don’t send a compulsive shopper to Rodeo Drive.  You don’t allow Sunny near FAO Schwartz, Jane within visual distance of an Apple Store, or any member of my family by blood or marriage into Jo-Beth books without a plan, a cash-only budget, a megaphone, physical restraints, and possibly a trained therapist to provide aftercare.**

I know this.

But I still believe I can  zip into the craft store—by which I mean any craft store—and buy the single item I need without trouble . . . and I still automatically pick up a cart at the door, like that isn’t a blatant, if subconscious, admission of defeat.Aida cloth

This morning, I spent a ridiculous amount of time debating whether one of the several other available items is better than the one I was determined to buy.  One was, and I bought it*** and avoided the scroll frames, because my friend Grace gave me a perfectly good one before she moved last year.^

I could have left.  I should have left.

Craft NeedlesCraft glassesBut then I caught sight of the needles, and I couldn’t remember if I had the right kind or where I would have put them, if I did.  But I did remember the trouble I had the last time I tried to thread a needle, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that I’d been trying to even shove the end of actual invisible thread through the eye of a tiny sharpie.

I’m talented that way.

Alarms were dimly ringing at this point, possibly from the direction of my credit card, but I remembered that Jane had asked if we had any fabric scraps so she could practice with the sewing machine.  So I decided to swing past the quilting stuff to check the remnants, which was just past the bargain bins . . . which is when everything went a bit funny . . .

Craft Yarn

. . . I don’t know, the last thing I remember is a random thought about Christmas and scarves and the kids, who don’t like wearing scarves.  Then next thing I knew, I was at home with a big bag of stuff and a receipt that was a lot longer than I’d anticipated.

At least I came home with the Aida cloth.  It’s on the frame (thanks, Grace!), center-marked, and ready to go.

As soon as I can decide on the colors . . .

Scroll frame



*The stuff that looks like rows of tiny squares, for cross-stitch.  The count means how many squares there are in a linear inch.

**You’d think librarians would be immune to the lure of literary acquisition, but we really, really aren’t.

***The project isn’t this big, but stores don’t usually carry sizes between 15″ x 18″, which is what I had at hand, and this.

^Along with four garbage bags of her stash.  I have a theory that craft supply stashes are a single, gestalt being that shuffles itself around from place to place as needed.   My husband has a theory that I’m a sucker in need of professional help.  I don’t see the conflict, here.


What Size Sanity?


I believe I’ve mentioned once or twice the tactical warfare sheer parental bliss how much I enjoy clothes shopping with Jane.

Last week, I was insane privileged enough to try it with both kids. At the same time.

Sunny finally outgrew her shorts this summer, which shouldn’t have been the surprise it was, considering the labels said “3 Toddler” and she’s seven now.

Jane, who outgrows things every Thursday and has apparently developed Ideas about style—without parental permission, mind you—as well as simply . . . developing . . . needed long shorts she could bike in, and better foundation undergarments.*

So after lunch, we headed to Kohl’s and Target, both of which were having sales.  They’re also right next to each other, so we parked in the row between them and sallied forth.

Sunny, as it turns out, is still a peanut, something we discovered when she stood up after pulling on the smallest pair of shorts we could find from the 7-16 Girls section and was suddenly wearing them around her ankles.  We backed up into the children’s section and, lucky for us,  her actual size–5 Toddler, as it turns out—was easy to find.  That she really doesn’t care if her wardrobe comes from the discount racks was a lovely bonus.

That took us roughly two trips to the changing rooms and twenty minutes.

The other two and a half hours of our trip was all about Jane and her size, shape, sense of fashion, and sensitivity about all three versus the limitations of my credit limit, my discomfort** over the undeniable fact that my eleven-year old has a cup size, and my Ideas about the amount of room there should be between an eleven-year old and the fabric of her clothes.

Add in one bored seven-year old who was feeling neglected and marginalized while I ran in and out of the dressing room, fetching different sizes for her increasingly frustrated and rude sister,*** and it was not a particularly fun time.

But we lived through it and—with the lack of common sense and short term memory usually found in horror movie victims or party guests in The Game of Thrones—decided to hit the next store.

Again, Sunny was easy—two pairs of leggings, two of biking shorts, and one watermelon-striped sunsuit, no dressing rooms, everything on sale.

Jane, however, had decided during our struggles at the first store that if I had  forced her^ to shop for adult sizes, then she would rather die—or put a hit out on me, from her expression—than touch any size other than extra-small or small, regardless of the difference in designs or designers.

Sometimes this worked.

Most of the time, it didn’t.

And while I understood the self-esteem issues that can come with wearing adult sizes at her age,^^ I wasn’t about to buy a twenty dollar tee-shirt that wouldn’t fit her in two weeks or a pair of pants that didn’t fit her now because of a number.

At that point, it wasn’t even the money; it was the horrible thought of having to do this again so soon.

But we survived and I drove the hard-earned spoils of two spoiled kids home,^^^ put up my feet, and kept ’em there until dinner.

And that was that, until yesterday, when my MIL said, “You need to buy Jane more long shorts.  Those don’t fit.”

I looked and they didn’t but it wasn’t my fault.  “Those are her old shorts. I bought her two pairs of new ones.  I’m done clothes shopping for a while.”

“But what about the wedding?  Sunny has her Easter dress, but does Janie have anything to wear?”

“I don’t think so.”  It dawned on me that I didn’t have anything to wear, because the last fancy-schmancy wedding I attended was in 1998. “It’s on the twenty-first,” I said, shuddering.  “We have time.”

“It’s on the twelfth.”

I ran to the calendar.  Oh, $#!%.

Guess who’s taking her overexcited pre-teen shopping this afternoon for wedding outfits?

Help . . .


*As in, undergarments with actual foundations built into them.

**Stemming from my memories of being that eleven-year old, at a time when the only bra options for me were of the 18-hour, industrial-grade, blade-seamed, torpedo-cupped, saw-banded kind, with loose-ended straps that would suddenly let go of the clips on one side in seventh grade math class—the class with the hard-of-hearing teacher whose loud questions about why exactly I needed to visit the bathroom ensured that everyone was staring at my lopsidedness.

***And, it might be noted, passing on all suggestions that I buy her costume jewelry, perfume, or a rhinestone-encrusted watch to heal her hurt feelings caused by my lack of parenting skills.

^Presumably through the combined powers of genetics and having credit cards in my name.

^^Boy, do I understand it, and have worked damn hard to keep the body acceptance to a maximum in our house.  This was a lot easier once my kids acquired peers.

^^^Yes, that remark was snide and unfair.  No, I’m not taking it back.

Store Credit

The kids and I did a pick-up grocery trip* on the way home from church yesterday.

Shopping CartThis is my lest favorite time to go, because the kids are hungry and I’m hungry and we all just want to get home, so there’s even more whining and begging on both sides, plus the check-out lanes are usually full of other impatient, hungry people who do not appreciate having to maneuver past two acquisitive Wesson children who are poring over every single candy bar, toy, tube of lip balm, and gum pack on those maddening impulse buy shelves lining the chutes** we’re all plodding down at the combined speeds of a  freshly-hired cashier who can’t tell cucumbers from zucchini from bok choy yet and and a teenage bagger who is doing his best in the face of endless lines of impatient, hungry people who are buying pineapples, glass jars, cleaning supplies, soft bread, and eggs and who all have their own Very Strong Opinions about what should go in which bags and whether gallon milk jugs and/or potatoes should or should not be bagged at all.***

I was just heading for the end of such a line yesterday, teeth already gritted over the behavior of my beloved children—who must have been raised by a pack of sugar-addicted stoats when I wasn’t looking—when I realized that our fewer than twelve items qualified us for the Express Lane, which not only featured a shorter line with marginally happier people in it, but also had no impulse buy shelves.

Sunny, who was hanging off the end of the cart in listless resentment over my repeated refusal to buy her every brightly-colored, nutritionally bereft item that crossed her field of vision, suddenly snapped upright and demanded to know why Jane always got everything she asked for.  I answered indirectly by telling Jane to put the sports drink back, please, and started to unload the cart amid Sunny’s undeterred moans.^

The cashier cheerfully zapped everything through and said, “Is there anything else?”

“I don’t suppose I could return the curly-haired kid there for store credit?” I asked, fishing out my credit card.

Without missing a beat, the cashier turned to Sunny.  “Smile for me,” she said.

Sunny SmilesSunny stopped mid-moan. “What?”

“Smile, please.  Just a little one.”

Sunny did.

“I’m sorry,” the cashier told me, “but there are some teeth missing.  I’ll have to call the manager.”

“Never mind,” I said, when I could catch my breath, “I guess I can wait until they grow back.”

“You have a good day, now,” the cashier said.

“Thanks,” I said, as Jane joined us.  “I think we actually might.”

And we did.


*To grab the stuff I was told I’d forgotten the day before by the same people whom I had asked to look at the list before I’d gone the first time—and who had both said it looked fine to them.

**I don’t know one parent who doesn’t want to meet the marketing genius who designed that area of the store and wring his neck.


^The stoats clearly hired a howler monkey au pair.  Damn them.

Blue Jeans and Sunny Ears

This Saturday, Sunny had her ears pierced.

This came as a great surprise to three-fourths of the family, who thought we were at the Mall on the latest quest to find jeans that will fit Janie, who’s reached that delightful stage where her growth spurts are firing at will from random angles.*

But one of us had different plans.

So while Jane and I made pilgrimages to fitting rooms with offerings of assorted denims, Sunny and my husband were left to Sunny’s their own devices.

The resulting text conversation went something like this:**

My husband: Where are you?

Me: Trying on Levi jeans now. They’re NOT WORKING.

MH: We lost you! Sunny and I are just outside the store at Exotic Imports.

Me: Ah. We’re in Penney’s, still. No luck yet. Jane’s getting dressed.

MH: Maybe we should try Deb?

Me: Maybe. It’s length, not width, though. She’s a 6 junior in Levi, but they’re a foot too long.

MH: No petites?

Me: Ha. No. Heading for Arizona territory. One more try here, and we’ll Deb.

MH: Mall walking now.

About twenty minutes and a three-foot stack of sizes, cuts, and colors later:

Me: VICTORY! Found her size, they’re on sale, and I don’t have to hem ’em!***And we’re still speaking to each other.

MH: Good. Sunny is getting her ears pierced.



Sunny pre-ears

Me: We’re in the check-out line now. How’s it going?

MH: She’s done.

Me: Really?

MH: Yep.

Apparently, Sunny had dragged her father to the earring place, asked if she could have her ears pierced for an early birthday present, and hopped up on the chair.  She was perfectly fine until it was over, and her nervous system realized what had happened, but her tears had dried by the time Jane and I arrived.

Those of you who weren’t around when Jane had her ears done might not understand my confusion at the sheer lack of psychological trauma, my wonder that it worked on the first try, and my gratitude that I hadn’t had a chance to screw it up.

But there wasn’t, it had, and I hadn’t.  And Sunny is ticked to death with them:

Sunny ears

My kid with the focus issues even has us on a rotating schedule to help her with the ear solution stuff.^ Turns out, she can focus just fine when she truly wants something.

I only wish she wanted good grades that much . . . and a puppy a lot less.


*At least half of her body has decided to forge ahead into teenagerhood, but no one alerted the waistline fairy. Add in the proprietary, distinctive, and somewhat inconsistent sizing systems of every single brand of women’s clothing, and things get even more frustrating.

**I adjusted for misspellings (mine, not his, stupid tiny keypad), punctuation (his, not mine, thank you) and family abbreviations.

***Arizona jeans are as close to perfect as we can get for this kid, until that fairy shows up—but that’s what belts are for.  The sizes go from 0-19 in short, average, and long, they come in bootcut and skinny, and the prices are pretty good for clothing destined to be replaced every few months.  So we can safely grant brand loyalty, supposing they won’t be discontinued the moment I hit the publish button on this post.

^After several attempts resulted in dry cotton balls surrounded by a moat of benzalkonium chloride—the bottle’s too big for her.

Age is just a number that tells everyone you’re old now*

Wise old owl

I had a good birthday.

After lunch—technically a Father’s Day lunch for my husband at his favorite Mexican restaurant—Janie, Watson and I went shoe shopping.  I adopted three pairs:  a pewter pair that almost makes up for the deplorable fact that Rieker stopped making those red  and silver suede ones just when I need replacements, a black pair that Rieker can’t stop making because they are the shoe, and a pair that hugs my feet like lovely woven gloves.**

The only bad part is that I have to inter my old, worn-loved-and-abused-to-destruction favorites,*** but all birthdays have a touch of melancholy, right?

We spent the next hour looking at every single item in the accessory shop next door and saying no to Janie, which is good exercise and keeps me sharp for the pseudo-negotiation of bigger things she won’t be getting until she achieves financial and geographical independence.   But I did spring for a set or two of earrings–on sale–and two hairbows for Sunny.^

Because every birthday should be about sharing stuff, even if that stuff is made of tiny earrings shaped like fast food.  Right?

Tired and happy, we returned home and had lemonade and pie.  Okay, the kids had lemonade in front of the tube, my husband had iced tea, Watson went downstairs to take care of Jada Mae Swissie Dog and I hid in the kitchen with my laptop and had pie—chocolate truffle pie—while thanking everyone who sent me birthday wishes.

So, so worth the slightly sticky keyboard.  Because birthdays should be about friends and risking chocolate-coated, white-hot sugar death.  Right?

And then . . . I napped.

It was a good, long, prodigious nap.  There may have been dreams of swordfights with garlic breadsticks.  This isn’t as weird as it sounds—partly because it’s my subconscious, and garlic breadstick swordfights aren’t nearly as odd as it gets in there—and mostly because when I woke up, the house smelled of roasted garlic, meatballs, pasta sauce, and toasted bread—Janie and Watson made me dinner for my birthday.  It was amazing, and ended as all fabulous meals should,  with a slab of my MIL’s famous Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting^^ and a quick change into elastic-waisted pants.

And then we had presents. Because birthdays should be—well, you know.

My kids gave me a hair dryer, which is exactly what I’d asked for, since I’ve been playing Russian Roulette with my old one for two weeks—sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it waits until my hair is half-dry and at even funnier angles than usual. This new one is bright, shiny, and aggressively magenta—if it were  shoes, it would be clogs (see**)—but it works, it has a retractable cord,  and it’s quiet.  I spent some quality time with it this morning and I think we’ll get along just fine.

My husband gave me Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on DVD, which I’m still loudly kicking myself for missing in the theater every time I’m reminded of it.^^^  He apparently bought it the day it  came out in an effort to stop the kicking, or at least the loud, and has been living in fear that I’d buy it for myself, which I’ve only done . . . a couple timesand usually, in my defense, books.   So I want at least partial credit for my restraint.°

But the Gift of the Day award—don’t tell the kids—goes to my MIL, who gave me something I’d stared at for a solid twenty minutes at the Art Fair last month before tearing myself away with thoughts of my Discover Card bill:

His name is Blaug.  Isn’t he brilliant?

It was a very good birthday—because birthdays should be shared with the people who know you best and love you anyway.  Right?



*Thanks so very much,  Siobhan.  You’ll be delighted to know that I’ve marked your birthday on my calendar, too.  In red.

**I’m so disappointed that clogs and I don’t get along.  I hated the pointy shoe trend, because I do not have naturally streamlined toes and do not feel the need to cripple myself for fashion, but the overly-rounded backlash currently in effect makes me feel like I’m a clown dressing as a duck in an effort to look like a clown duck in my early hipster twenties, which wouldn’t have been a good look for me when I was in my twenties and is exponentially bad now.  Especially in that pair that looked like someone had cracked a blood-red pearlized bowling ball in half and shellacked it.  There are some shoes so fundamentally ugly, you have to try them on, just once.

***Sing it with me:  The Ciiiiiiiircle of Liiiiiiiife . . . .

^Who told me I was the Best Mom Ever and  promptly clipped them to the head of her stuffed duck, whom she had dressed in a play jumper originally owned by an entirely different species of doll.  In retrospect, the day had an odd, secondary duck theme to it . . .

^^I still can’t believe I rated this cake.  I’m sure she also made it for my husband, but I don’t care because it’s that good.

^^^According to certain members of my family who have started to join in chorus as I whine, I’m reminded of this a lot.

° While duly giving credit for the distractions offered by television—more specifically, the second season of BBC Sherlock (nabbed it) and the fourth season of Leverage (pre-ordered).  But it could have easily gone the other way.