Tag Archives: shopping

A Kinder, Gentler Sort of Holiday Madness

It’s the eleventh day of Christmas and finally it’s safe to venture beyond one’s home out into the Land of Wares. At least it would seem so. The tired, the poor and the frenzied masses have all gone home, lugging obscene quantities of discounted schlock from near and far. No longer are the aisles choked with throngs of ill-tempered people—addled by the irksome constancy of holiday music, less-than-functional shopping carts and the vexing nature of can-I-really-afford-that-which-promises-to-wow-my-child-as-much-or-more-than-a-pony. Furthermore, hideously long lines, impossible-to-find merchandise, and the occasional slug-inspired sales clerks no longer fuel my nightmares. Nor does the siren song of Black Friday, Super Saturday and Mega Monday wail in my ear. Even the highways and byways seem more manageable in the wake of this oh-so-wonderful Yuletide. Parking lots, too.

Quite frankly, I was teetering on the edge of insanity just days before Christmas, my head reeling with sales jingles and an acute awareness of my fiscal limitations. Plus, I was fumbling around with way too many crumpled scraps of paper filled to capacity with wishes that had been hurriedly scrawled, scratched out, and then revised in the margin or penciled in literally atop an existing entry, making the resultant tome very nearly indecipherable. Couple that with the insurmountable task of calculating sale prices, on top of sale prices, less the percentage of savings guaranteed with my shamelessly disordered wad of coupons, as well as remembering a host of preferred shapes, sizes, colors and molecular structures of the aforementioned wish list items and it’s completely reasonable to expect ensuing madness.

God forbid someone’s pajama pants might feature the wrong monkeys (heretofore known as “monkey pants”).

Needless to say, I fell victim to the surge of gotta-have-it-or-I-will-surely-wither-and-die mentality, besieged by the almighty tide of consumerism and swallowed whole by its frenetic and unrelenting pace. Translation: I joined the masses of those who wandered aimlessly in both stores and tangled parking lots, mumbling great strings of incoherence about the state of my cussed list, seized by a quiet panic over frivolities such as Justin Bieber’s hair style (who knew there was more than one?!), the untold variety of Harry Potter whateverness and whether or not Stubby and The Fat One (the bearded dragons my charges so desperately wanted for Christmas) had already been sold to the highest bidder—in which case, I might as well have lit myself on fire to avoid a far more horrible fate.

That said, I’m not especially proud of the fact that I spent a veritable eternity facing a wall of Littlest Pet Shop creatures and a bank of creepy cyber bugs, paralyzed with indecision over toys that would be discarded in roughly 27 seconds. The bendable sock monkeys would rule the day anyway, as would the offensively loud pair of elephant banks, the freakishly large rubber shark, the aforementioned monkey pants and the glut of fuzzy, green socks a certain someone used a total of ten adjectives to effectively describe in her “Dear Santa” letter. Likewise, I am equally ashamed to admit having been so completely obsessed with finding the perfect gift (and fit) for my husband that I tried on an embarrassment of winter coats, and in so doing, became literally entombed within one in a remote corner of a department store that should probably ban me.

I wish I were kidding.

Read: Just after I had finished zipping it past my nose, snapping all the snaps and appraising its exceptional warmth and coziness, the teeth of the external zipper suddenly gave way at its base, causing a small wave of panic to wash over me. All I could readily focus on, as I groped around for the stupid zipper and FLOUNDERED INSIDE SAID TORRID MICROCOSM OF DOOM was the newspaper headline that would surely read: Woman Trapped Inside Giant Parka. Rescued Three Days Later by Kohl’s Employees. Driven Certifiably Insane by Incessant Loop of Holiday Music and Sauna-like Temperatures.

Thankfully, I was spared that particular brand of humiliation and escaped from the jacket in question without incident. The zipper miraculously righted itself, I chose a perfectly wonderful coat from the legions I had sampled and went home a happy woman—almost as happy as I am now that the madness is over and normalcy has returned to the land.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (probably not shopping). Visit me there at www.melindawentzel.com and www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

Comments Off on A Kinder, Gentler Sort of Holiday Madness

Filed under Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

The Rogue Backpack

It was an interminable shopping excursion—a brutally exhausting back-to-school event that involved far too many fitting rooms with the suggestion of ventilation and, as one might expect, legions upon legions of petulant children, ones who were clearly more interested in setting off a medley of motion detectors and in being swallowed up by great forests of clothing racks than in trying on the armloads of garmentage that spoke to their parents unremittingly. Oddly enough, my dear progeny, a soon-to-be fifth grader completely thrilled with the prospect of buying that-which-is-tight-and-trendy, was uncharacteristically well-mannered throughout the entire ordeal. Go figure.

Naturally, I invited said fact to the forefront of my mind throughout the day so that I might be inspired to forge ahead despite the laborious nature of the task at hand. Translation: I needed something to psyche myself up in order to gather yet another armload of gotta-have-it-or-I’ll-surely-die Hello Kitty apparel, which I would then haul to the dressing room ad nauseam.

But I would do well to remember that there were lots of things that made the experience wholly tolerable—aside from the fact that my child actually wanted to be there. Firstly, my Mom not only orchestrated every minute detail of the aforementioned marathon event (to include clipping coupons, perusing last-minute newspaper advertisements and considering the alignment of the planets so that obscene savings would, indeed, be assured), she also convinced me to take just one daughter at a time—which was a slightly brilliant move. Okay, it was pure genius.

Admittedly, I can’t even take credit for the method employed by my brood to determine who earned the privilege of shopping first. True to form, Thing One and Thing Two settled the matter in a classic rock-paper-scissors fashion, the latter having emerged victorious. I merely served as a witness and as the official hander-outer of the consolation prize—the promise of an equally interminable joyous shopping excursion to the Land of Skinny Jeans and Profoundly Sarcastic T-Shirts, followed shortly thereafter by an epic quest for Converse All-Stars. Pepto Bismol-pink, of course.

The day was memorable if nothing else. Strangely enough, it became even more memorable, punctuated by the discovery of that which rendered me unable to move or speak, except for the tiny gasp that I’m fairly certain I emitted as I stood there, perfectly transfixed by what I saw. Truth be told, my daughter initially made the horrifying discovery and felt compelled to share it with me.

“Mom! Look at THIS!” she shrieked as if a mannequin had been juggling live kittens in the shoe department—which would have been a disturbing yet fascinating sight to behold. “You have to see this! There’s a backpack here for ONE HUNDRED TWENTY BUCKS!” Of course, I made her repeat the aforementioned string of heinousness as if she had uttered an obscenity and I needed to be sure it was, in reality, as impossibly foul as I had understood it to be. And it was.

To be clear, the rogue book bag in question was on sale, but that was beside the point. I couldn’t get past the egregious nature of its original ticketed price. The beauty of shock value had, indeed, been demonstrated as I gawked at the tag in stunned silence. Given to curiosity, I then studied it up close, tugging at its kryptonite-inspired zippers, spinning its endearing little wheels and peering within a multitude of hidden pouches and expandable compartments—frantically searching for that which justified its hideous expense.

Needless to say, I didn’t find it; but I fully expected to unearth a clone of the most remarkable teacher on the planet—one who lived inside that smallish space 24/7, crawling out on command. A pint-sized instructor capable of conveying a deep understanding of the Pythagorean theorem to my dog (never mind less-than-cooperative children). An educator extraordinaire, brimming with enough enthusiasm and patience for six people (and a collapsible Smart Board with tons of pretty markers, too).

Color me delusional, yet again (but not stupid enough to pay $120 for a damn backpack).

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (thoroughly consumed by back-to-school madness). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

1 Comment

Filed under School Schmool, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

The Week before Christmas

An oldie, but a goodie…

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the land

Not a shopper was idle, the stores were all jammed.

The carts were all taken, the traffic—a bear,

We hoped that a parking place still would be there.

The children were whining from dawn until dusk,

“You must spoil us rotten!” they grumbled and fussed.

With MasterCard, Visa, Discover and Saks,

The plastic was certain to work to its max.

When out in the shrubs there arose such a clatter,

I tossed up the bills to see what was the matter.

Away to the bushes I ran like a deer,

“The ladder’s so tipsy; he’s fallen, I fear!”

The cursing and shouting that came from his lips,

Ranked higher than ALL of his Freudian slips.

When, what to my wondering eyes should be found,

But a tangle of lights and my spouse on the ground!

He had twisted and twirled our new lights ‘round his head,

His ankles, an arm—so mad he was red.

More wrath than the Grinch and the Scrooge put together,

He stomped and he thrashed in the cold, snowy weather.

“Now tangles! Now snarls! Be gone in a jiffy!”

“Stop blinking! Stop flashing! Light right now! Look spiffy!”

“To the top of the hedge, to the top of the pine,

Now, light away! Light away! Give us a sign!”

As I helped him untangle himself from the mess,

We spoke of the folks who would soon be our guests.

My brother! His sister! Oh how the list grew!

My parents! His mother! Just WHAT would we do?!

I had not one inkling, how we would endure—

A day so immersed with our kinfolk, for sure.

“There are carrots to peel, and beds to be made!

This floor must be scrubbed! I’m beginning to FADE!”

“The gifts should be wrapped, the tree trimmed just right,

I wonder why I thought my plan was so bright!”

“It’s a bungled up mess!” my husband exclaimed.

“And I know exactly, WHO should be blamed.”

His brow—how it wrinkled! His manner—how wary!

Like the day that America failed to pick Kerry.

The smile he once wore there, oh where did it go?

I searched high and low, there. I just didn’t know.

“So why all the fussing? What IS your big beef?”

“You’d think that Osama was coming! GOOD GRIEF!”

“Your mother—she’ll cook, and my brother—he’ll scrub.”

“When things get too stressful, we’ll all hit the pub.”

“Your sister will wrap all the gifts up with glee!”

“And all will contribute to trimming the tree!”

Then a wink of his eye and something he said,

Soon made me recall, just why we were wed.

“There’s no doubt that our mottled clans have their own quirks.

But stranger than fiction, it actually works.

Like everyone’s crew, we all share some woes.

Each life has some oddness; that’s just how it goes.”

So I hugged him and thanked him for telling me so,

How fitting it was, to be near mistletoe.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2004 Melinda L. Wentzel

Comments Off on The Week before Christmas

Filed under A Tree is Nice, Captain Quirk, Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

On the Cusp of Christmas: 12 Days of Lunacy

It has certainly been said that normal is relative. Clichés aside, the only notion of which I am completely certain is that my family is relatively un-normal—especially during the maddening month of December. For whatever reason, being on the cusp of Christmas seems to make those with whom I reside even more deranged than usual. I am no exception.

Once the feathery flakes and the distinctive sound of sleigh bells fill the air (and the bitter cold makes me seriously entertain the notion of spooning the dog), I am smitten with holiday cheer. I make lists. I shop. I hang mistletoe here and a slew of stockings there. I heap great masses of fake pine boughs atop windows and door frames, twisting it unmercifully around banisters and idle children. I devise convoluted and exceedingly impracticable (read: destined-to-fail) plans for that-which-needs-to-be-done-before-Christmas. I begin squirreling away Scotch tape and shameful quantities of wrapping paper that beckon to me from afar. I formulate a cheesy State of the Union/holiday letter in my head, vowing to embellish twice as much as last year. I actually clean—because it is ENTIRELY WRONG to set a crèche full of camels, sheep, the wise guys et al upon a layer of dust so thick it would choke the sweet baby Jesus. Sprinkle me with a wealth of tacky ads aimed at my heart (yet cleverly striking my wallet and guilt-ridden, impulse-buying command center) and I’m well on my way to becoming profoundly immersed in the season of good cheer. Ho ho ho.

Yet it is clear the Yuletide frenzy thing plays no favorites in this household. Indeed, I watched it literally consume a seemingly lucid individual (aka Captain Quirk) as it drove him to hoist his entire body into the far recesses of our attic at an ungodly and completely frigid hour—so that he might haul wreaths, herds of electric deer and plastic whateverness to the lawn. He then hammered a multitude of tent stake thingies into the frozen ground (sans gloves)—so the hoofed creatures would, in theory, refrain from toppling over and making a mockery of his efforts. And let us not forget the colorful language that filled the air that night, the clothes that offered a mere suggestion of warmth and the ferreting-around-in-the-basement for a tangle of extension cords that were decidedly less-than-cooperative—especially when our heathens wove deliriously in and around said lawn luminaries. For a fleeting moment, he foolishly considered stringing lights, too, and hunting for a stupid screw to repair an apparent defect that made our antlered wonder violently jerk its head back and forth.

Thankfully, though, those little thoughts went away.

Of course, the circus-like hauling-of-Christmas-décor could have waited until the wind stopped howling. Or until sunrise. Or mid-damned-day for that matter. Sadly, the man’s thoughts and actions on that particular evening were not related to anything derived by logic. December lunacy had struck with a vengeance.

Later that week, in fact, it led us both to question the notion that we were fairly sensible parents—having succumbed to the irresistible allure of a last minute/late night sale in which we chose to drag our sorry brood through aisle after aisle of wonderfulness kid-tedium on a (gasp!) SCHOOL NIGHT so that we might snatch some good deals on Christmas gifts for friends and family. “Mom, don’t you know we’re THE ONLY KIDS in here?!”

Naturally, my husband and I blame our inexcusably imprudent behavior on the celebrated 12 Days of Lunacy.

Even our charges have been afflicted with this so-called malady, cleverly weaving coveted items into everyday conversations, leaving updated versions of wish lists seemingly everywhere, laying fliers from various toy stores in can’t-miss-it regions of our home and dog-earing favorite pages for our convenience. What’s more, Frick and Frack have been acting peculiar since the first of the month—remembering to flush toilets, to pick up their shoes and to abstain from bludgeoning one another with snow shovels and whatnot. That said, they’ve been minding their p’s and q’s almost to a sickening degree, obsessing over the very uncertain nature of being placed on Santa’s “Nice List” methinks.

A coincidence, no?

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (on the cusp of Christmas). Visit me there at www.melindawentzel.com.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

Comments Off on On the Cusp of Christmas: 12 Days of Lunacy

Filed under "G" is for Guilt, "S" is for Shame, Captain Quirk, Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Normal is Relative, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, Vat of Complete Irreverence, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Sound Horn and I’ll Pull Over

“Sound Horn and I’ll Pull Over.” Yep. That’s what the sign stated. Said bizarreness was curiously broadcast on the back of a Bud Light truck I happened to be following the other day. Like everyone else on the planet, I was in the throes of last minute Christmas shopping, ready to rip the clappers out of as many Salvation Army bells as would be physically possible. So it was terrific timing, actually, because at that particular point in time I desperately needed some sort of distraction to keep me from going off the deep end—Grinch style.

Naturally, I shook my head and wondered aloud, “What in the sam hill does that blurb mean?! If I honk my horn will elves suddenly burst out of the cab and fetch me a cold one, scuttling across the snow in their curled-up elf feet, jingling all the way to my Cheerio-laden minivan? Or perhaps a response such as this would require laying on the horn for a while—boldly sending a message that I simply cannot deal with the holiday traffic anymore and MUST quaff a beer immediately or sooner.”

Who knows? If I honked, maybe Mr. Bud Light guy would pull over and offer to wrap all my Christmas presents, and then he’d finish addressing the vat of cards I have yet to mail and after that he’d perform a magnificent scene from the Nutcracker leaping and twirling in sexy white tights to my utter delight. A Real American Heeeeeero! That’s what he’d be. A chorus of cheers from all around would then erupt from those still gridlocked in traffic (but decidedly, no longer dwelling on such frivolities).

I’d be waiting in his toasty cab, of course, frosty mug in hand, hoping to be ravished till I begged for more. Or mercy or something.

Sadly, however, the story remains untold. I will never know what might have been that day because I never blew my silly horn.

What a dolt.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (in a deranged mental state much of the time).

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

2 Comments

Filed under "S" is for Shame, Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Me Myself and I, Normal is Relative, Vat of Complete Irreverence, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

And the Monster That is Mommy Reared her Ugly Head, Just in Time for Halloween

Seems like only yesterday when my charges were perfectly content to wear costumes that reeked of adorableness. Alas, that was eons ago…

If my kids were truly cognizant of the hideous nature of my most recent crime, they’d surely sell me on eBay. “One ROTTEN MOMMY for sale!” the blurb would read. “One ROTTEN MOMMY who did a BAD, BAD thing!” And I wouldn’t blame them one bit. Indeed, I have done something horrible. Something atrocious. Something downright wicked—even by my standards.

I picked out this year’s Halloween costumes (Gasp!) without so much as my children’s input, say-so or collective blessing. Yep. I did. And I am deeply ashamed of my deplorable conduct. As I should be. Needless to say, it pains me greatly even to admit to something so heinous—much like the time I rearranged the ABC magnets on the refrigerator door without first consulting the powers that be. Naturally, there was hell to pay for that little transgression.

Remarkably however, this time my charges weren’t nearly as outraged or distraught over my rash and brazen behavior. The fact that I made an executive decision in their absence barely made a blip on the radar screen amazingly enough. In large part, I attribute this stroke of good fortune to two things: Number 1: I can be exceedingly clever (read: conniving) on occasion. Number 2: My kids are exceedingly distractible (read: gullible), on most occasions.

“Honeys, look at what Mommy brought you! A ladybug with wings and spots and boingy little antenna things…a silly-looking monkey with a banana in his pocket and a squinky little tail…and a chicken suit! Yes, yes, a funny chicken suit with fluffy featherish stuff and big, floppy feet!! I know, I know, we only need two costumes for Halloween, but Mommy couldn’t resist GIVING YOU DEAR, DEAR CHILDREN A CHOICE!”

See. That’s where the cleverness sidled in. I totally and completely diverted their attention with all the bells and whistles I employed, spewing forth (in one giant breath) each and every wonderful feature of those ridiculous costumes I could think of, precluding so much as a hint of protest. Then I threw them the infamous you’ve-got-a-choice bone for good measure. Insert fiendish laugh here.

In all honesty though, I never ever meant to steal their joy or to crush their delicate spirits (and thankfully, I didn’t). Truthfully, I have no clue as to what made me do the unthinkable. I never intended to buy those silly suits; they just sort of fell off the rack and into my cart as my inner mommy voice soothingly cooed, “Hey, smart shopper, think of the time and trouble you’ll save—I mean, everyone will save—if you just pick out a couple of costumes right now, while you’re here, free from the endless swirl of chaos and the din of despair. Your kids won’t mind. Come on, you know you want to. They’ll love you for it and besides, if you let them choose… a) it will take for-EVER (because there are zebras and mice and kangaroos and a veritable ark load of choices!), b) you will be driven insane in the process as they weave deliriously in and out of the racks aplenty, drunk with joy over the momentous event and c) they’ll whine and carry on until you let them have those stupid pink poodle outfits. Do you honestly want your children to be seen wearing something so utterly HIDEOUS for Halloween?! Have you gone completely mad, woman?! They’ll look like a couple of ninnies!”

So I tossed the blasted things into my cart, unable to silence the voices in my head. Alas, I was weak. And the monster that is Mommy reared her ugly head, just in time for Halloween. Shame on me. Of course, I felt awful after the fact and I began questioning myself. I started thinking the poodles might not have been so bad (God knows they’re OBSESSED with dogs). The kangaroo (with a pouch for candy!) had potential, too. Egads! What had I done?!

Like I said, if they could only wrap their little minds around my egregious behavior, I’d be sold to the highest bidder. Or to pretty much any bidder for that matter. Let the flogging begin.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

1 Comment

Filed under "G" is for Guilt, Daily Chaos, Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Mo

Well, the back-to-school shopping frenzy is over for the most part and I couldn’t be more thrilled, having survived the ordeal with yet a few marbles to my name. My two kidlets have once again returned to the world of books and pencils, and the crippling sense of urgency I felt to outfit and clothe them appropriately has now passed. Amen.

No longer will I look at a rack of insanely discounted apparel and feel the need to devour it, stuffing armload upon armload of garmentage-I’ll-never-use-but-God-this-is-cheap into my cart like a maniac. Nor will I be inclined to haul my brood to 17 different stores in search of the perfect (fill in the blank with an infinite array of gotta-have-it items for the first day of school or I’ll die), pausing only to refuel, to wade through the carnage in the aisles and to visit the loo roughly 600 times in a period of 10 hours. Nope, we’re done with that foolishness. The gods have smiled upon me and my heart is glad.

But it certainly was an epic event—a shopping marathon worthy of high praise and recognition from a husband who refused to participate (except when it came to the “fun stuff” like buying soccer gear and doling out soft pretzels). That aside, I guess I expected a certain degree of pain and suffering to accompany such a woeful duty; but I never imagined the misery that would come to define our lunchbox selection process. It was pure agony. And a complicated matter at that.

More specifically, neither child appeared to be satisfied with the offerings. And by satisfied I mean COMPLETELY AND WHOLLY ENTHRALLED WITH EVERY LAST FLAP, POUCH AND ZIPPERED COMPARTMENT, TO INCLUDE SHAPE, SIZE, MOLECULAR STRUCTURE AND PICTURISH THINGIES CONTAINED WITHIN AND ON SAID LUNCHBOXES. Grok!

At one point, I felt hopelessly bound within a Dr. Seuss nightmare. Thing 1 and Thing 2 ostensibly found fault with everything lunchboxish and were virtually incapable of making a decision. (So much for the eenie-meenie-miney-mo method).

“I do not like them, Sam-I-am! Not one will suit my bread and jam. I do not like them with a fox. For lunch, I need a pinkish box. I do not like this stupid pouch. Stop rushing me; I’m not a grouch! I would not could not on this shelf. I want to pick one by myself. I do not like them in this store! Take me, take me where there are more!”

Five stores and two meltdowns later, we were still deeply immersed in the absurdity our day’s undertaking had become. I seriously toyed with the idea of offering a pony to the first child who suggested that brown-bagging it was suddenly cool.

At that point I called for reinforcements (the husband), since I was sure the madness would never end and I knew someone would need to raise the children once I had gone off the deep end. Dozens upon dozens of possibilities then lay at our feet—because our lovely charges felt it was necessary to yank them off the shelves (with glee) in order to examine them more closely (i.e. to Kid Test them and to eventually place the ones that received a passing grade in a nice, little clump on the floor—the Maybe Pile).

After a time, their tactics morphed from strange to even stranger. One child encircled the other with eight or more viable options from the heap of maybes, engaged in some sort of ritualistic rain dance and then instructed her to squat down and start spinning. Yes, spinning like a giant Spirograph around and around until one glorious lunchbox shouted out to her, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Soon, curious onlookers gathered in the aisle. Some were amazed. Others, amused. We had become a spectacle of sorts and everyone apparently wanted to be there when the final verdicts came in. I just wanted it all to end—before sunrise.

And end it did. Finally. A green ogre for one and three pink princesses for the other. It seemed simple enough on the surface, but I knew better. Choosing a lunchbox was a complicated matter after all. And sadly, the virtues of eenie-meenie-miney-mo were all but lost on my crew.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

This piece also appeared on the blog of the lovely and talented Susan Heim: (aka Susan Heim on Parenting).

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

Comments Off on Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Mo

Filed under Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, Rantings & Ravings, School Schmool, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction