Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Who???

McCain has picked his running mate and everyone is surprised. Is it because she’s from Alaska? Maybe. Because she’s young? Possibly. Because she’s conservative? Definitely.

Count me among the surprised ones. I’d never even heard of Sarah Palin before this morning. If anyone had asked me who the governor of Alaska was I would have had no clue.

But as the day has gone on we are learning more and more about Sarah Palin. That she’s first and foremost a wife and mother. She loves the outdoors (duh, she’s from Alaska!). She’s a Christian. She’s a member of the NRA (whatever). She’s an athlete (or at least she was when she was in high school). She’s a member of PTA. She’s intelligent. She’s well-spoken (did you hear that speech?!).

She’s a lot of things.

And today, for the first time in a long time, I feel validated.

John McCain has chosen a woman a lot like me to stand beside him, and I find that interesting and, strangely, empowering. No, I’m not Governor of Alaska—I’m not Governor of Anything—and I certainly don’t like camping, but Sarah Palin and I have a lot more in common than Hillary and I or Michelle and I.

We share the same values.

For so long the media has put Conservative women in a box—a bread box. The media would have you believe that Conservative women are non-thinking, barefooted, “yes-dear” kind of women who hang out in the kitchen all day. June Cleaver who has not evolved. (Hello! Ever heard of Starbucks?? Some of us hang out there!)

But I know lots and lots of Conservative-thinking women who are lots and lots of things. Boring or unimaginative is not one of them.

Among the Conservative women I know, some are teachers, some are lawyers, some are doctors. Some choose to stay home with their children; others choose to work. Some like rock music; some like classical. Some are athletes; others are soccer-moms. Some drive huge SUVs; some drive Hybrids (I, unfortunately, drive a mini-van).

What I’m getting at here is that Conservative women of Sarah Palin’s generation cannot be put into the box that the media would like to put us in. We are strong. We are opinionated. We are smart. We are well-educated. And even so, we look at life through a Conservative lens. Our Conservative values guide the choices we make. And while the media might not understand these choices, they don’t automatically make us stupid.

So here is a woman who has taken the same stand I have—to be Conservative. And she has been chosen to potentially be the second-most powerful person in the country.

I’m suddenly very interested in this election. . . .

Summer Vacation Spectacle

Kristen at "We Are THAT Family" is hosting a contest today. Woo hoo! All we have to do is to link back to her blog, as I've done above, and to tell about our summer vacation, as I've done in the four posts below.

Please SCROLL DOWN to the next four posts to read about our Great Switzerland Adventure and to see some awesome pictures of the most beautiful scenery you can ever imagine. Just to entice you to SCROLL DOWN, I've added a couple more pictures of the view we had in Switzerland. Oh my.

(And just because I need some encouragement to keep doing this blogging thing, please leave me a comment to let me know what you think. I'd be ever grateful. Thanks!!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our Switzerland Adventure - Part III

O.K., I’m getting a little tired of writing about my own trip, so I’m sure you’re getting tired of reading about it. I just wanted to post a few final thoughts. (If you have any more questions about our experience, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.)

Yesterday I mentioned that watching the faces of the children was a highlight for me. I absolutely loved watching my own three daughters get to know missionary children as they loved them and served them. It was wonderful to see dear Maggie, only 10 years old, come alongside a 6-year-old boy from Australia and be his buddy for the week.

And Abby, who is naturally more reserved than my other two, stretched herself from her comfort zone a little bit and held babies on her lap and played games with some of the older children.

Kate, who is naturally outgoing, made friends with all the 8- and 9-year-old boys. They loved her rough and tumble way with them and had a blast hanging out with her.

It was so good for my kids to connect with children who are growing up in places so unlike suburban America. It was good for them to hear stories of these children, like those whose family keeps a huge duffle bag packed at all times just in case they have to flee from their home. They have used that bag a few times.

Or to meet children like M and A who are making the most of their time on the mission field by learning five, yes FIVE, languages (English, Chinese, German, French, and Arabic if you really must know!) . A, the sister, is only 8; M, the brother, only 10. These are remarkable children in their learning, sure, but also remarkable in the love and kindness they showed to the other kids around them.

And then my girls had the opportunity to get to know others who live in Europe but sometimes don’t see their dad for a month or two at a time because he is embedded in a village, trying to learn a new language. They got to hear stories, firsthand, of the sacrifices the children of missionaries make; sometimes we only think of the sacrifices of the parents, but we found that the children make sacrifices, too.

One kind of “new” experience for us was meeting people who had never been to America before. Two little boys, who live most of the time in France, told my girls that they thought all Americans were fat (all they know of America is that McDonalds comes from here and in France the only people who go to McDonalds are fat people). We were happy to dispell that idea.

As we planned for this trip, we talked as a family about what it’s like for these missionaries to live where they live and to do what they do. We didn’t know much about their work before we left; in fact, the most we knew was that many of the people who would attend the conference lived in undisclosed locations. Which, to me, sounded a lot like being called to Eastern Outer Mongolia. How could they do that? I wondered.

But now, after meeting these wonderful people and getting to know their children, I realize that I have learned something, too. These missionaries live where they live and do what they do, making tremendous sacrifices, because they are completely dedicated to the Gospel. They couldn’t NOT do it. God’s call on their lives is so firm, His hand on them so sure, that they have to do what they do, even if it puts them in harm’s way.

A few years back our church planted a new church in downtown Chicago. As the pastors were talking with the congregation about moving into the city, they responded to the many questions they had received about their safety. Some asked, “Aren’t you afraid for the safety of your family if you move into the city?”

I will never forget one pastor’s response. He said, “I am less safe, out here in the suburbs, if I am out of God’s will than I will be in the city, doing His will.” And these missionaries, who sometimes live in difficult circumstances, know that with all their heart. They live it. Every day.

I pray that I will have the strength and the courage to live with the same conviction.

[Note: You may have noticed that I did not include pictures of any of the children we worked with. This was intentional as the mission agency and the parents do not want the children to be recognized. Trust me—they were, each and every one, as cute as can be!]

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our Switzerland Adventure - Part II

When this whole Switzerland trip started, our thinking went something like this: “Well, somebody has to do this missions trip. It just happens to be in Switzerland. It might as well be us.”

Truth be told, my motives for going on this trip were not entirely altruistic. We’re talking Switzerland here, not Eastern Outer Mongolia, and if you have a heart to serve missionaries (as we do) is it so bad to do it in a place that’s . . . well, shall we say . . . cushy?

I think not.

I’m the girl, after all, who proudly sports on her denim jacket a pin that says, “I love not camping.”

To me, heading to Eastern Outer Mongolia would be a bit like camping. Or worse. And God knows I would not serve Him to my fullest ability if I were worried about having enough lighter fluid or toilet paper.

Now, if God called me to EOM, and I knew in my heart that He was calling me there, I’d be there in a heartbeat. Who am I to ignore God’s call? But so far, He’s been merciful and has allowed me to serve Him right where I am. And in Switzerland.

So we followed God’s call to Switzerland, and our time of service was filled with blessing upon blessing.

Our “job” on this trip was to plan activities for missionary children for a week. Basically, we needed to keep the kids busy—meaningfully busy—for 10 hours a day while their parents were in a conference. For months before we left we met together as a group and planned our activities which would include a traditional VBS program in the morning and excursions in the afternoons.

(I said "meaningful" right?)

We had planned to end each day with an hour of “Olympic Games” in honor of the Beijing Olympics which were being held while we were there. Unfortunately, the Great Swiss Olympic Games never happened because the weather was so bad all week, and also because there was no level playing field on which to hold these games. We were, after all, in the mountains. Where they ski. Downhill. There was not a flat surface anywhere to be found. What were we thinking?

We arrived a day or two before the children started arriving, which was good because it allowed us to get over jet lag pretty easily and to check out the area. We had planned various excursions for the afternoons, and the two extra days allowed us to get a lay of the land.

We checked out the local tourist office to get as much information as possible. Some in our group walked to the local pool to check it out. A couple of people “practiced” hiking up the mountain to see if it would be too tough for some of the kids. Others “practiced” taking the Gondola to the top.

The missionaries, kids in tow, arrived on Sunday night, and the place started buzzing and bustling with activity. Before we knew it, our kids were meeting the missionary kids and playing with them on the playground. By bedtime Sunday night the kids were acquainted with each other, and we were all eager to get started on Monday morning.

Every morning we ran a traditional Vacation Bible School, complete with singing and Bible stories and games and crafts. Boy, did we have crafts! See??

I learned so much about God’s family just by watching how He put our group together. See, I did not get the crafty gene, and my biggest fear, as I agreed to lead this trip, was that I would have to do something craft-wise with these kids. But God knows my many weaknesses and He brought Sandi to do the work that He knew I couldn’t do.

Sandi is craft goddess extraordinaire. She amazingly put together the VBS crafts, bought all the supplies we needed, and then put together a full roster of “afternoon” crafts just in case the weather didn’t cooperate or some kids didn’t want to go on excursions. Boy, did we ever need those afternoon crafts! Not only did the weather not cooperate, we did have a handful of kids who just wanted to hang out with Sandi and do crafts all afternoon.

I pretty much stayed away.

Even though the weather didn’t cooperate fully, we did manage to take the kids out every day but one (on Friday it just rained and rained and rained all day so that’s when Sandi’s crafts really came in handy). One day we did a scavenger hunt through the town that my daughter, Kate, put together with another girl on the trip. The kids had a blast running around town finding little landmarks and getting the reserved Swiss people to give them high fives.

On two of the days, some in our group (the ones who drew the short straw, I’d say) “got” to take the kids to the local pool. Even though it was a heated pool, it was still outdoors and proved to be quite chilly. Still, the kids enjoyed the adventure.

And on the other day, Sandi and I got to take a group of kids to a local bakery for some marzipan molding and cookie decorating. The tourist office in town arranged this for us, and it was really a special outing for me who loves to cook and bake. At one point I looked at Sandi and said, “We are standing in the basement of a real Swiss bakery! Pinch me!”

After the bakery tour we met up with some more of our kids and headed up the mountain in a gondola for the most spectacular view of the valley.

Even though we had some pretty fun activities planned for the kids, I’d say these weren’t even the highlight. For me, the highlights of the week were watching the faces of the missionary kids as they connected with our kids. So many smiles. So much laughter. So many hugs. It was beautiful to watch children who had never met before, and who will probably never see each other again on this side of Heaven, connect in such a real way.

We already miss those sweet kids—well, maybe not the one who peed on me because he was crying so hard, but, yeah, probably him too—and look forward to one day seeing them again. Saying goodbye at the end of the week was hard.

And that’s just one of many lessons my kids had put before them last week. Saying goodbye is just part of the missionary experience, but we have a strong and sure hope that one day there will be no more goodbyes.

Only hellos. And hugs. And smiles.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Few Switzerland Photos

I thought I'd add a few photos to keep you going throughout the weekend. These were all taken in the village of Adelboden, Switzerland.

A gate near the village church.

Above the gate it says, "Gott allein die Ehre" which means "God only the honor." I love that.

The church and clock tower.

The most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. We were walking back from town, toward our hotel, and came around a corner to this spectacular view.

A view of the village from the top of the mountain. We took the kids on a gondola ride and took this picture from the top.

Switzerland has the cutest fire hydrants I've ever seen!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Our Switzerland Adventure - Part I

Trying to write about one of our greatest family adventures ever is like trying to describe Michael Phelps’ extraordinary feats in one sentence. It just can’t be done. So I am going to try to explicate it bit by bit so that it begins to make sense to you and to me.

Today I’m going to write about travel.

When this whole missions trip thing started, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Sure, we can be the leaders.” Which, in Wild-speak means, “Sure, Shelly has time to do that.”

So, by default, I became the leader of our band of 16 people—7 adults and 9 kids, mostly teenagers and two 10-year-olds. None of us knew each other very well before we started and some of us hadn’t travelled much. Since I was the leader, and since my family has dubbed me “Julie the cruise director” on countless family vacations, I got to arrange travel for 16—something I had never done before.

The responsibility of getting 16 people to Europe and back weighed pretty heavily on me both before and during our trip. I was nervous, frankly. I felt sure that something just had to go wrong with a group that big.

Just trying to get there proved me right.

Our adventure began at O’Hare airport where we all met up, along with some type of high school Oompah band from Germany. (How do I know it was an Oompah band? The tubas kind of gave it away.) So our group, along with about 50 German high schoolers, boarded an Air France plane to Paris.

Our connection was going to be tight, I knew that, but after a 45 minute delay in perfectly beautiful weather in Chicago—go figure—I had a feeling we weren’t going to make it. When we landed in Paris we found that our plane to Zurich had just left and that we would have to wait seven hours for the next flight.

We were off to a not-so-great start. But, hey, we had sandwich vouchers!

Of course, some in our group had never been to Paris and were just happy to set foot there, even if it was in the Charles De Gaulle airport.

“Honey, I always told you I’d take you to Paris,” one man in our group quipped to his wife while we sat, bleary-eyed and jet lagged in the waiting area of the airport. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what she had in mind.

We finally arrived in Zurich, only to find that three of us had lost our luggage. Well, “WE” didn’t exactly lose our luggage, Air France did, but we were without it, and it was lost. We were told we’d get it back the next day, so we left Zurich with high hopes of clean underwear on Saturday.

Now, the village where we were going to serve was a tiny village of about 4,000 people, high up in the Alps. To get to this village from Zurich we had to take a train to Bern, change trains in about three minutes (no kidding!) and get on another train to a small town called Frutigen. At Frutigen we were to board a bus for a 30 minute ride to our village. We had timed everything just right so that we could catch the very last bus at 11:30 p.m., putting us in our village at midnight.

But have I mentioned the luggage? Each of us had one checked bag, plus we had brought five extra bags full of craft supplies, games, balls, etc. All of the essentials for taking care of a group of kids for a week.

Thank goodness three of our bags were lost! That only put us at two extra bags, so it’s all good. Right? Wrong.

Getting 18 huge bags, plus our carry-on bags, onto a train after about 26 hours of travel was . . . how shall I put it . . . comical at the least. We schlepped and hauled and grunted our way to the upstairs section of the first empty train car we found. Luggage was everywhere, piled onto seats and underneath shelves and scattered all around us.

But we were sitting on a train. Finally. On our way to our village.

Until the train conductor came.

“You are sitting in first class. You must move to second class,” he said to me after I showed him our group ticket.

“Really? Where’s second class?” I asked.

“Back there, through the dining car.” His thick Swiss-German accent reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Really. And you want us to drag all of this luggage through the dining car, disrupt all of your other passengers who are probably sleeping right about now, and MOVE TO SECOND CLASS?”

“No, your luggage can stay here. You all have to move,” he said without batting an eye, and then he moved on to the next car.

Hmmm. Major dilemma. The adults in the group all stared at one another, trying to decide what to do. Should we leave our bags and head back to the proper car or should we protect what belongings we had left? Should we drag everything we had with us through the dining car for the remaining 30 minute train ride? What kind of message would we be sending to our kids if we didn’t obey the train conductor?

We decided that the best thing to do was to continue trying to decide. So we discussed and debated and tried to decide the best thing to do until, 30 minutes later, we arrived in Bern and had to change trains. Problem solved.

Of course, a new problem immediately presented itself. How do we haul 18 bags off of one train and onto another in three minutes? Very carefully. And quickly.

With lots of teamwork and a little bit of shouting we made it. Sure, we caused a typical American scene in the middle of the night, but at that point we didn’t care. We were on the correct train heading toward the correct city. If all went well, we’d make that last bus of the night.

We arrived in Frutigen on time, and I ran ahead to alert the bus driver that a group of 16 would be coming off the train and to ask him to please hold the bus. As I was doing that, the rest of the group began the schlepping process. Off the train, down the stairs, under the tracks and up a ramp to the waiting bus.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Mark, one of the dads in the group who was the last one on the train, had turned his back to make sure all of the bags got off the train, and while he was doing that the doors of the train closed! Everyone was yelling and screaming. A riot was about to ensue. But someone found the emergency “Door Open” button which released the door, allowing Mark to jump out just before the train took off again.

Disaster averted. Again.

Busses in Switzerland are so cool because they carry with them a trailer on the back which, in the summer, can carry luggage, but during the rest of the year can carry your SKIS! How awesome is that?! A ski trolley right on the back of the bus.

Our bags were thrown into the trailer, and we all got settled in for the 30-minutes-that-seemed-like-two-hours ride to our village. By the time we pulled into the bus station it was midnight. We were exhausted after 30 hours of travel, but so very happy to have made it to our final destination.

And like a pool of water in a desert, there were our missionary friends waiting for us at the lonely bus stop. About seven people had walked down from the hotel to greet us in the middle of the night. All I could do was sit there and cry. I had completed half of my task—I had gotten everyone there—and like a small blessing, an acknowledgement of how hard we had all worked to get there, our friends were there to greet us.

Our one last travel task was to walk about a half a mile to our hotel. We looked ridiculous rolling all that noisy luggage down the street, but it was the middle of the night and we didn’t care very much.

We dropped into our beds and slept very well that night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guten Morgen? Guten Tag?

I'm still a little confused as to what time of day it is, but I'm certainly not confused about where I am. Back in the flatland where you can see for miles and miles and miles. *Sigh*

We got home from Switzerland on Monday around 5 p.m. to find a delicious dinner of baked chicken, roasted potatoes, FRESH GREEN BEANS!, french bread, and homemade chocolate chip pie waiting for us. I also had fresh milk, fruit, and juice in my fridge and bread on the counter. My dear friend, Amy, and I have a "thing" we do for each other when we know the other person is coming in from a long trip. We bring dinner (well, not always--I'm not as good at it as she is) and a few "essentials" for the next morning so that our friend doesn't have to go to the grocery store as soon as she sets her bags down in the house. Isn't that just the best thing a friend could do?

Anyway, after dinner on Monday we hit the bed so that the girls would be ready for their first day of school on Tuesday morning. Can you believe that? School! Already! I'm not happy, but that's another blog for another day.

Yesterday was a blur, and it was early to bed again last night, but I'm here this morning to report that it is indeed true . . . Switzerland is THE most beautiful place in the world.

I have so much to write about and so many pictures to share, but let me just start with this one.

We arrived in our little village, Adelboden, on a Friday night at midnight due to a missed connection in Paris. Just imagine sixteen people, jetlagged after 30 hours of travel, rolling sixteen suitcases down the street to our hotel. It was quite a sight, let me tell you. We flopped into our beds in the dark, clueless as to our surroundings.

The next morning when I woke up, I crossed the room to our window and opened the curtain to this view. It literally took my breath away. I woke up my husband and said, "You just have to see this!"

I think we just stood there for a few minutes, speechless. We'd never seen anything so beautiful in our lives. It still makes me teary-eyed to think of it. The beauty. Oh my.

I'll write more later and post more pictures, but for now, Guten Morgen!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Hills are Alive

For weeks around here we've been listening to yodeling music, eating fondue, and researching the best in Swiss chocolates. We've also been developing curriculum, gathering craft supplies, and making travel arrangements for sixteen.


Because today we're heading to Switzerland!

The three of you (Mom and my sisters) who read my blog already know this, but just in case someone out of the ordinary should pop by while we're gone, I thought I'd leave a little explanation.

We are going to Switzerland not only to see what I've heard is the most beautiful place on earth, but also to help out some folks by doing what's called a short term missions project. Short term because we'll only be gone about 11 days, but it's still considered missions.

I know what you're thinking because all of our friends have already given us the business. "Oh sure, 'missions trip' to Switzerland. Tough gig!"

Well, the way we look at it, someone's got to go, and it might as well be us. All five of us.

Several months ago our church announced the short term missions trips for this summer. When they announced that the Switzerland trip would be families and still needed someone to lead the trip, my husband and I looked at each other and said, "We can do that. Piece of cake." (What were we thinking?)

What will we do in Switzerland, you ask? We will be leading a week-long program for children of missionaries, all of whom live in undisclosed locations. They are taking a break from their very difficult work to get away, to have a conference together, and to spend some time relaxing, hopefully. Our role will be to care for their children from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. every day. We have a VBS program planned for the morning time, and in the afternoon we'll take some of the kids on "excursions" or provide activities for them at the conference site.

It's probably not your typical "missions" trip, but we are still serving and, hopefully, providing some respite to some very important people. And we're hoping to teach our children that service, in whatever form it takes, is a necessary and vital part of our Christian life.

I'm sure I'll have lots of great stories to tell, but it probably won't be for a couple of weeks since my kids start school the day after we return. How's that for timing?!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Proud Mama

The really cool thing about being a mom and watching your kids grow up is that sometimes they don't turn out exactly as you thought they would.

And that's a GOOD thing!

I am incredibly, unbelievably proud of all three of my girls. The longer you read my blog, the more you will see this. They are all amazing and smart and capable (if I do say so myself!). They will all do great things in this world.

Sometimes, though, I think our dreams for our kids are just too small. I mean, if Kate, my oldest, ends up doing what I think she can do in her life, she'll be a doctor or a lawyer or the President of the United States. But she has little interest in medicine or law or politics. How weird is that?

Forever she has been interested in books. You couldn't wrestle a book away from that girl from the time she could read (which was early, of course!). You still can't. Voracious just doesn't even begin to describe her.

But suddenly Kate has developed a new passion for art. Go figure . . . ART. When I think about this I have to be very careful that I don't suddenly fall into the attitude my dad took when I announced to this very practical farmer that I was going to be majoring in literature in college. He was incredulous, asking, "What are you going to do, read BOOKS for a living?" Yeah, something like that. I guess Kate is going to scrapbook for a living.

And it looks like she might.

This summer we both started to blog at the same time. Our blogs are, to put it mildly, quite different.

And that's O.K. Why would she want to write about being a mom? And why would I want to write about . . . whatever it is she writes about?

Anyway, I just wanted to point you to Kate's blog, if you're so inclined, because she is, I am learning this summer, incredibly talented.

And I am, in case you hadn't guessed, not only surprised but also incredibly proud.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Adventures in Shopping

Have I mentioned that I really hate shopping?

I know, I know, if you’re one of the three people reading this (relatives, all), you’ll think to yourself, “Hey, I thought Shelly really liked shopping. She does enough of it.” Let me clarify. I like shopping—sort of—with my mom and sisters or with my girlfriends when shopping involves just hanging out looking at stuff and having lunch.

But what I do isn’t the kind of shopping I like. What I do is run to a store (or several stores), pick up what I need, and go back home.

I like home. It’s a good place to be. No bright, halogen lights there. No crabby people in bad polyester not offering to help me when it looks like I obviously am lost and can’t find what I need. And no red and white bullseyes.

Just lots of neutral, calming colors.

Yesterday’s adventure was shopping of the worst kind because I wasn’t even looking for one thing for myself. We were shopping for B. Heaven help us!

B shops about twice a year. He goes to Steinmart and picks out a couple of “outfits” and takes them home. The End.

To be fair, he doesn’t wear casual clothes that much. He’s a banker, so he wears a suit every day, and that’s how I like it. I love a man in a suit. Just don’t ask me where his suits come from—I don’t get to go along on those little jaunts. Every once in a while a new suit just shows up in the closet, but not very often because he doesn’t have that many. Now I ask you, if you were a guy, wouldn’t you have, like, 20 suits so you’d only have to wear them once a month or so? Not B. He’s got a rotation that’s so tight you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. He’s frugal that way. Go figure.

We’re leaving on a big trip this week, all five of us, and we looked around and realized that we don’t have enough luggage. I guess we haven’t gone anywhere together in a while. So B needed a suitcase. Where does one go to find the best deal on a suitcase? T. J. Maxx, here we come!

And, well, since T. J. Maxx is right near Homegoods, we thought we’d stop in there to see if they have a suitable rug for B’s “new” den which isn’t really new because it’s a room we’ve had in our house for the entire 10 years we’ve lived here. But it’s a new den for him because for Father’s Day I gave him a new desk to go in that room. I even used the money I was saving for a new front door and a tile backsplash to buy it for him. I’m generous that way.

The girls say that the desk isn’t really the Father’s Day present because we probably would have eventually bought it anyway. The Father’s Day present, if you want to get technical about it, was the permission to have his own room in our house. I’ve kind of been against that for a while, fearing that if he had his own space he’d use it to escape retreat from all the women in this house. The verdict is still out.

So we walked over to Homegoods, B muttering the whole time that they’ll never have anything he would like and how could we possibly find “just the right thing”?

“I mean, do they even have rugs there?”

Oh my dear. You’ve obviously never been to Homegoods.

Not only did we find a rug for his new room, B ended up smiling, smiling!, and saying, “I like that store!” Amazing adventure for sure.

So we left that strip mall and headed to another. Oh, how I LOVE getting in and out of the car every five minutes. Not.

Steinmart was next on our list because B needs clothes for our trip. The two pairs of khakis he owns are probably 10 years old—purchased on one of our annual forays to Steinmart. It’s time to update.

B headed straight to the thousand racks of khakis, but I got sidetracked by the beautiful striped shirt on display just inside the front door. It’s cool, it’s hip, it’s updated. It’s like nothing B owns.

“Hey, honey, look at this shirt. Isn’t it cool?” I slyly ask.

“Yeah, it’s O.K. It’s not me though.”

A truer word has never been spoken.

“Just try it on. It’ll look great on you.”

“Nah. I don’t think so. Just let me look around.”

O.K. I leave him, grabbing Maggie by the hand and charging Abby to make him get something cool watch over his purchases. B and I just cannot shop together. I don’t know why, but we can’t. I guess I hover, practically willing him to buy what I like, and he leaves me alone too much, not encouraging me like my girlfriends do to “buy it, it’ll look great on you!”

So after about 30 minutes of leaving him alone, Maggie and I decided to spy on him and see what he had picked out. Come on, shopping this lame needs some spicing up! We saw him coming out of the dressing room with one pair of khaki pants and one pair of navy blue pants. Whoopee!

I decided it was time to take some initiative. Abby was trying her best, but just wasn’t having any success getting B to try on even one cute shirt.

“Hey, honey, why don’t you try on one of those striped shirts? They look really good with a colored t-shirt underneath. It’s what everyone is wearing these days.”

“Well, I kind of like this one over here,” and B showed me a nice-looking striped shirt. We quickly found a t-shirt to go underneath it. Then we sidled up to the display that I had seen when we first walked into the store.

“You should really try this one on. It’s so good looking,” I said.

“Yeah, Dad, it’s really cool,” the two girls chimed in. Thank you, girls. I’ll pay you later.

“Oh, alright. I’ll try it on. But I just don’t think it will look good on me. I mean, it’s got a lime green stripe.” Gasp!

You gotta give the guy credit for even trying it on. Not that he wasn’t pushed in the right direction. But he really didn’t want to even touch it let alone put it on his body.

Finally, the “cool” shirt was modeled with a bright blue t-shirt underneath it. It looked great. We three girls thought so anyway, and the poor guy was so brow-beaten that we bought it.

Along with one pair of khakis, one pair of navy pants, and one brown belt. Maybe next year we’ll work on his bottom half.