Fashion Friday: Christmas wishlist edition

Yesterday morning I got an email from a sweet reader and she informed me that she was standing in the toy department of her small town Walmart surrounded by Zhu Zhu Pets. She asked if I wanted her to buy one for me and I replied, “Well, if you’re sure it’s not any trouble then YES PLEASE! I’LL TAKE TWO!”. So she headed to the checkout line with Mr. Squiggles and Chunk only to be stopped by a Walmart employee who informed her that the Zhu Zhu Pets were just part of a display and not available for purchase until Black Friday.

Shame on you, Walmart. It’s like you’re begging for a riot over $8.00 hamsters.

So I’m still on the hunt for the elusive Zhu Zhu, but it will not beat me.

To add to my frustration, I read an article online about a firm called Panjiva, run by fancy scientists from MIT that analyze the general insanity of the American population by measuring trends in imported goods, that has projected the hot holiday gifts will be Snuggies and Zhu Zhu Pets.

I don’t know what kind of computer program those MIT geniuses are using, but they haven’t told me anything I couldn’t have deduced from my eight trips to local Walmarts over the past week. Also, I believe their data regarding the Snuggie may be flawed considering that I saw an entire Snuggie display on the end of an aisle at HEB and they’d been marked down to $14.97.

All I know is that if there ever comes a day that some sort of anthropologists are digging through the rubble that used to be our society, they will find evidence of the Snuggie and the Zhu Zhu Pet and will all agree that our culture must have been very sad and misguided in our quest for backward robes and battery-powered pets.

And on that note, I thought it might be fun to compile a list of a few things I’ve found that would make great Christmas gifts for you or the ones you love. You will see that neither Pipsqueek nor Num Nums made this list.

(Also, these are just things I like. I wasn’t paid or given any merchandise to put them on this list. Just wanted you to know.)

1. Best of Lavender Gift Set

My friend Debi and her husband Jack own a lavender farm in the Texas Hill country and, y’all, they grow their own lavender. Like from scratch or seed or whatever. And then they use it to make the most awesome lotion in the world. I keep a bottle by my kitchen sink, a bottle by my bathroom sink and a tube of it in my purse. Addicted much?

Best of all, they are currently offering the gift set with free shipping.

2. The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Unless you don’t reside on this planet, you’ve probably heard about this cookbook, but what you may not know is that Amazon is currently selling it for $10.75. TEN DOLLARS AND SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS. What is this, 1974?

Why are you still here? Go order the cookbook for everyone on your list. If you’re lucky they’ll make you some homemade cinnamon rolls as a way to say thank you.

3. Ragg Wool Socks

I can’t tell you how much I hate to put socks on the list. It seems so boring, like the kind of thing you’d get someone who is in their pajamas by 7:30 p.m. every night and considers BravoTV to be the greatest invention of the 21st century.

Oh wait.

That’s me.

Truth be told, P bought me some of these socks about eight years ago and I have now worn a hole in the bottom of them because I wear them so much. They keep my feet toasty warm on these chilly South Texas winter nights when the temps dip into the mid-40’s. In other words, they pretty much perform a miracle because my feet are usually so cold that I’m either suffering from circulatory issues or I’m already dead.

4. Deux Lux Ruffle Bucket Bag

I just think this is a super cute bag. Love the ruffles.

5. 2010 Calendar

Who doesn’t love a new calendar to start off the year? I mean, besides people who don’t love a new calendar to start off the year?

This one is great because, not only are the designs beautiful and simple, but it’s separated into individual pages so you can put up each month one at a time. Isn’t that clever?

However, if you’re a fan of the entire twelve months being neatly bound, I’ve always been a big fan of Kris-10’s Creations Calendar.

6. Canon Powershot Digital Camera

P bought me one of these for Christmas about four years ago and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It’s small enough to carry in my purse and it takes video and still pictures.

My Pa-Pa never would have dreamed there’d be a day when you could shoot moving pictures with something this small instead of a camera bigger than your head with a spotlight that could blind anyone in a three-mile radius.

7. Vintage-inspired apron

Just looking at how cute this apron is makes me feel like a better cook.

It also makes me have a desire to wear my hair in a bouffant and put on some pearls while I vacuum.

8. Flannel plaid pj pants

Flannel pj pants complete me and the plaid is so right now.

9. Bulletin Boards

I’ve been on the hunt for a bulletin board for Caroline’s room and when I saw this one, I immediately knew that I’d found the look I’d been searching for. It would be perfect in a kitchen, office or bedroom and you could even get it monogrammed in the center because who doesn’t love a good monogram? Other than people in the witness protection program?

10. The Sarge duck call

P has been sitting next to me while I make this list and he suggested that I include The Sarge duck call.

First, let me tell you that if you haven’t experienced The Duck Commanders, then you are missing out on one of life’s greatest joys. I am generally not a fan of hunting shows, but they reeled me in. It seriously makes me laugh out loud.

Secondly, you probably don’t need The Sarge duck call unless you plan on hunting ducks or giving it to your child and seeing how long it takes before they drive you insane with all the quacking.

That’s all I have for today.

Y’all have a great Friday.

Rodentia powered by Duracell

About two months ago, Gulley and I were talking on the phone making plans for our annual Christmas shopping weekend when she asked, “Is Caroline going to want a Zhu Zhu Pet for Christmas?”

“She hasn’t mentioned it. Why?”

“Well, I’ve heard it’s going to be the hot toy this season. You might want to go ahead and get one if you think she might want one.”

And then I think I may have made some comment about kids in America needing to spend more time outside and not becoming consumed by fake hamsters made in China because I like to make bold, sweeping generalizations about topics that will come back to haunt me.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when I was looking through the Sunday ads at Mimi and Bops’ house. Caroline climbed into my lap, pointed to the front page of the Walmart circular featuring a prominent picture of the Zhu Zhu Pets milling about in their little plastic hamster house and said, “That is the NUMBER ONE THING I want from Santa this year! The NUMBER ONE THING!”

Dang.

I headed to Walmart the next morning fully expecting to purchase a Zhu Zhu Pet and all the faux hamster accoutrements. In fact, I even threw out a breezy Twitter update that said, “On my way to buy a Zhu Zhu Pet because everyone knows a battery-powered hamster is better than a real one.” Imagine my surprise when I perused the toy aisles at Walmart only to discover that there was nary a stitch of any sort of Zhu Zhu Pet merchandise to be found.

The same can be said of my visit to Target and three other local Walmarts. All I managed to come up with was a lone Zhu Zhu Pet exercise ball which I promptly snatched up even though I do not currently own a fake hamster that needs to get fake exercise. In the midst of my desperation, I turned to Amazon.com only to discover the travesty that is Zhu Zhu Pet price gouging. Those hamsters are being sold for upwards of $50.00 online and while I may be naive enough to pay $9.00 for a pizza at the Rollercade, I refuse to shell out $50.00 for what was originally an $8.00 hamster.

So this past Monday, I went back to Walmart to see if some Zhu Zhu Pets had made their way into the store over the weekend. There were none to be found so I wandered over to a Walmart employee and asked in my most polite voice, “Ma’am? Do you know if you’ll be getting in any more Zhu Zhu Pets before Christmas?”

“I don’t know. And even if we do I have no idea when they’ll get here or how many I’ll have.”

Because I’ve always been told that you catch more flies with honey, I replied “Thank you so much! I can’t even imagine how crazy things are around here right now.”

And with that, I caught her.

“Honey, I’m going to tell you something because you’re a lot nicer than the last twenty people that asked me about those Zhu Zhu Pets. I put in an order on Friday and I should be gettin’ them in sometime next week but they’ll go fast. And I’ll tell you somethin’ else, I don’t know much about computers but we sell them for $8.00. Don’t go buyin’ one off of that google or yahoomail or whatever because they’re sellin’ them for $50.00 and, Honey, those things ain’t nothin’ but a battery-powered rat. If I saw that gray one in my house I’d stomp on it.”

Preach, sister. PREACH.

However, it’s the NUMBER ONE THING on my six-year-old’s Christmas list. I thanked her profusely for her time and her wisdom and then went on my Zhu Zhu-less way.

On Tuesday afternoon I made Gulley go with me to another Walmart (the one where I’d found the exercise ball) to see if they might have any in stock. As we walked away empty-handed, Gulley said, “Well you could always just get a real hamster if you can’t find the Zhu Zhu.”

I stopped short and made her look me in the eyes and vow that she would not let me stoop to that level of desperation. I said, “If it gets to be Christmas eve and I start talking crazy about going to PetSmart and buying a real hamster, YOU HAVE TO STOP ME.”

Then as we were walking out the door of Walmart I was busy messing around with my iPhone. I’ll be the first to admit that I have become a little obsessed with it and all the apps that make life so much easier than it was in the olden days when I had no way of playing Frogger anywhere I went. Gulley glanced over at me and said, “Too bad your fancy iPhone has an app that will tell you when you’re about to start your period, but not one that’ll help you find a Zhu Zhu Pet.”

I don’t know when I’ve ever laughed so hard inside a Walmart.

Yesterday, I began to work on my ace in the hole strategy, otherwise known as calling Walmarts all over town trying to get insider information. P, who so far has been oblivious to this whole thing, walked in the back door in time to hear me on the phone saying, “Well, my first choice would probably be Mr. Squiggles, but at this point I’ll take Chunk or Num Nums or even Pipsqueek. I really don’t care.” I looked up from the phone to see my beloved husband looking at me with a mixture of pity and fear, so when I got off the phone I explained the seriousness of the situation and he gave me all the sympathy that any fake tragedy involving a fake hamster deserves.

Gulley even went to Toys ‘R Us yesterday and asked them if they had any Zhu Zhu Pets and they just laughed at her. THEY LAUGHED. I believe that Toys ‘R Us and their employees make Santa Claus sad.

Finally, in the ultimate act of desperation, I remembered Gulley’s words and searched my iPhone apps for Zhu Zhu Pets last night. And you know what? THERE IS A ZHU ZHU PETS APP.

SO THERE!

Unfortunately, it’s just a game where you can guide Mr. Squiggles, Chunk, Num Nums or Pipsqueek through a maze by moving the phone in different directions. I can’t help but feel that the app will be of small comfort to Caroline come Christmas day as I sit and explain that Santa couldn’t fit one more battery-powered rat on his sleigh, but if she’ll just wait until January we’ll finally see the day that Chunk will be able to work out in his new exercise ball.

I smell the beginnings of a Christmas we’ll always remember.

Which is still better than the smell of cedar shavings and real hamster.

**Edited to add that many of you have pointed out that they are available online at Toys ‘R Us and it appears that way until you actually try to buy one and then it tells you they are OUT OF STOCK. Which brings me back to my point: Toys ‘R Us = Santa Claus sad

And there you are, a shooting star

I have a confession to make and it involves a disco ball.

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See? I told you.

I realize the most realistic scenario to explain the presence of a disco ball in my life is that I’ve been spending my Tuesday afternoons filming a remake of Saturday Night Fever and all I can say to that is DON’T I WISH. The truth is we’ve been spending the lion’s share of our Tuesday afternoons at the Rollercade.

I know.

It all started this summer when Caroline was invited to a birthday party at the Rollercade and she fell deeply, madly in love with rollerskating. And, really, who can blame her? If rollerskating doesn’t have an irresistible pull on the heart of people everywhere, then how do you explain the Olivia Newton-John classic, Xanadu?

I totally understand where she’s coming from, man, (Why am I talking like it’s 1976?) because once a girl discovers the feel of the wind blowing through her hair while she fast skates around the rink, it’s hard to stay away.

After her initial introduction to skating, she immediately began to beg to go back again. Fortunately for her, one of her friend’s moms emailed me to let me know that Tuesdays are half-price day and that a group from school planned to start meeting there almost every week.

So for the last month or so, we’ve spent several Tuesday afternoons skating. And yesterday was no different.

Except that I really didn’t feel like going to the Rollercade. There are just those rare days when a girl isn’t in the mood for the flashing lights of a disco ball, Michael Jackson music blaring overhead and the smell of old skates. I call those days Tuesdays.

But I’d promised we’d go and that she could bring a friend. So after school I brought the girls home for a quick snack, asked them sixteen times if they needed to go to the bathroom before we left, and then packed them in the car and headed to the rink to skate it out.

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I decided I was going to forgo skating for the day and just watch them from a terribly uncomfortable bench on the side of the rink, but I told them to wave at me if they needed help. Just when Caroline got to the furthest point away from me, she began to wave. I walked over to see what the problem was and she informed me she needed to go to the bathroom. Apparently she didn’t hear any of the sixteen times I’d asked before we left the house.

And here’s the worst thing about the Rollercade, there are no doors on the bathroom stalls. I don’t think I need to elaborate on all the ways that disturbs me. Bathrooms need doors. I have no doubt that would have been one of the ten commandments if the Israelites had public restrooms in the desert.

Anyway, I escorted her to the restroom and then she fell on the way out and then she didn’t want to skate anymore unless I was going to skate too and so I paid the extra $2.50 to rent skates and put them on and then she decided she was fine and when could we order some nachos and she didn’t want me to skate anywhere near her and I could just free skate by myself.

(Do you see how that run-on sentence just wore you out? That’s because I’m trying to do the same thing to your brain that the entire experience did to mine.)

The good news is about that time the computer began to play Boogie Shoes by KC and The Sunshine Band. If you can be in a bad mood when KC and The Sunshine Band plays, well then my condolences. Maybe it will help if I tell you I did a tap dance routine to that very song when I was in fourth grade and wore a chocolate brown leotard with gold fringe, gold tap shoes, and an enormous gold headpiece. (Hello, 1979.) Needless to say, I was fierce.

I told the girls they could eat pizza from the snackbar for dinner. When I placed my order for four slices of pizza, the girl behind the counter informed me they don’t sell pizza by the slice on weekdays and I’d need to order the whole pizza.

“How much is that?”

“Nine dollars.”

“Sold. I’d like a pepperoni pizza, please.”

And with that, she took my money, reached into a mini-freezer and pulled out a frozen HEB pepperoni pizza that I happen to know for a fact costs $2.50 at the store. If I could do the math I’d tell you the percentage of that mark up, but I can’t do the math so I’ll just say IT’S A LOT. Of course I also noticed that they charge $2.00 for a pickle which is criminal and also why I’ve decided to get into the concession stand business.

Once the pizza was finally ready, she pulled it out of the oven and handed it to me without cutting it, so I asked in my nicest voice if she could please cut my $9.00 pizza into slices and she did, although she was a little surly about it. I really can’t blame her though. I’d be surly too if I had to wear a uniform that made me look like a referee. That’s why I never pursued a career with Footlocker. Well, that and my complete phobia regarding other people’s feet.

And so with that, we sat down to a nutritious, healthy dinner that will cause moms everywhere to admire my parenting prowess.

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The girls had a little bit more time to skate once they were finished eating and Caroline even managed to find a sweet twelve-year-old girl who helped her finally let go of the wall and begin to actually skate a little bit. And I’m telling you, this girl could skate. She even played the air drums while she zoomed around the rink which in the land of the Rollercade is the equivalent to being the queen.

Just ask Olivia Newton-John.