The Black Hole

First Born is growing. Like a fertilised weed. A very well fertilised weed. Working Boy and I cannot help but notice that every few weeks he has crept a few millimetres closer to that moment where he will be taller than his mother. It could be months away, it could be weeks away, it could be days away, but the moment is coming. They say a watched pot never boils but when your child starts encroaching on your superior height, you can practically see your power slipping away before your eyes. 

With such obvious growth, it somehow still always takes me by surprise when his clothes don’t fit from one year to the next. Or sometimes from one month to the next. As the weather cooled over the last school holidays, it became painfully obvious that First Born needed some new tops. And jumpers. And shirts. And pants. Even undies (Sorry First Born. There was a reason I never told you about my blog). 

First Born’s feet are now a 40. He is a size 16 in clothes. Let me tell you something about these sizes. They are literally the black hole of clothing. They do not exist. Most of the kids shoes finish around a 36. The men’s shoes start at a 41. I am not joking. We have had a good few years now of floating around blindly in shoe no man’s land. Cooking Child is just entering this unenviable phase, as First Born will finally make his entree into men’s shoes. Last year an excellent friend in the same predicament tipped me off that Windsor Smith has some styles starting in a 39. There’s a reason that these days my kids ONLY wear sneakers outside of school and it’s not their sporting prowess. Sneakers seem to be the only shoe form that bridges the gap. Until we emerge firmly in men’s shoes, my kids will live in Nikes. There are worse predicaments in life. 

As for the clothes, some of the brands have TRIED to target the situation, and for a while the gap was bridged – there’s FREE by Cotton On (for 9-14s), Seed Teen, and Pavement. These are my first points of call. But this season…..nothing. There are just so many boringly plain things, or stupidly sloganed. And only Pavement goes to a 16 which means that First Born has grown out of teen sizes but is still not quite ready for men’s.

I have ransacked DJs, where I can generally dress my entire family with ease……nothing fits the bill. Or the boy. I am not stingy when it comes to First Born’s clothing. There are 3 smaller bodies waiting to wear it, so I am more than happy to pay more for something that will last. But I can’t pay for something which does not exist.

I have been to Country Road and the gap between where the boys clothes finish and then Men’s clothes begin is Grand Canyon-esque. 

See that space in between man and child? That space is where all the clothes I need for First Born are hiding. Somewhere between child……and man. I can just see their teen range when it finally emerges (and I’m sure it will)…..County Road: Manchild

So what do I do and where do I go? How do I fill the black hole of shopping?

First, Zara. They opened their kids’ section in WBJ with so little fanfare that even I only realised it was there about 3 months after it opened. Shocking confession, I know. Last year, First Born wanted a white shirt. They had a size 14 shirt which was plain white enough to keep Working Boy happy, with a small twist to keep me happy. Their 13-14 is generously sized so this will keep Cooking Child clothed for a while, at least, though First Born is still in the wasteland. 

I went to Myer. I don’t love shopping at Myer, but their teen boys’ section is reasonably well stocked. I’ve had luck with Mossimo (ha! My autocorrect turned Mossimo into Missoni – who knew the phone had the complexity to make Freudian slips?) and Bauhaus, one of Myer’s in house brands. 

I’ve been trying the smallest size of menswear with mixed results. XXS t-shirt from TopMan? Success. Size 28 chinos from Cotton On? Success. I have bought t-shirts and shirts from Cotton On in size S which First Born tries on and says “It’s a dress”. Interestingly there appear to be size XS and XXS but these options are always blocked out online. I’m not sure if this is because they are not available or whether the more experienced gap mothers snap up all the XXS and XS the second they become available. I’m sure by the time Master T reaches “the gap” I’ll have worked it out. 

The other problem, apart from actual size, with trying to bridge “the gap” by shopping small sizes of menswear is that the styles are often too adult for a twelve year old. And the prices are also too adult (this is why Cotton On’s regular 30% off deals come in handy). 

Speaking of gaps, it occurs to be that one place I have not searched to fill the gap, is, in fact, The GAP. Wouldn’t it be ironic if The GAP actually filled the gap? 

In the meantime, the gap is alive and well, and living in my house. I’m open to suggestions.

XOXO Shopping Girl 

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What to buy the husband who has everything he wants and wants nothing.

Children are like ants. I once read this and no truer word has ever been spoken. They pick things up in one place and drop them down in another location. And they do this all day long. What ants, like children, do NOT do is pick things up from the place they left them and return them to the place they belong. No amount of storage shopping can solve this dilemma. And you all know I have tried.

There are 4 ants in this house and only one Queen (cleaner) Ant. I am fighting a losing battle here. 

Right now (2.43pm), I am sitting here on my throne. Afternoon tea has been prepared, the dishwasher has been unloaded and re-loaded, the washing machine is washing the dirty washing, I have folded and sorted the clean washing, dinner has been cooked, Baby (a)N(t) will need to be woken in 10 minutes to go and fetch the other ants from school. There is a random assortment of toys, books, socks, shoes and pieces of homework strewn across the communal living areas of our home. And normally I would spend these final 15 minutes repatriating the assortment. But if I do that now, I will NEVER write again. And the shopping stratosphere will be out of balance. So even though I am going suffer extreme embarrassment in 1.5 hours when the guitar teacher comes over, and even further mortification in 2 hours when the piano teacher arrives* (the guitar teacher is an aging hippy, whereas the piano teacher is an extremely composed professional), I am taking one for the team.

2015 is proving to be hectic one for Shopping Girl, so far. It started with a bang – Working Boy turned 40 and I threw him a party with all of his friends to celebrate – and it hasn’t really stopped. 

Working Boy is not great with presents. That is, he really does not want any. Really. He does not like stuff. He is (unbearably) practical. 

It was tricky. I knew that WB did not want me spending his hard earned money on him. He wanted me to spend thought and time, rather. Which left me in a quandary because his birthday fell on the 2nd day back of Term One. It is hard to find time when you have 4 children with you 24/7 for seven weeks. In fact that scenario has rather the same destructive effect on thought process as well. 

So this is what I did. The day the children went back to school, I headed straight to Westfield. I breathed in that shopping mall air and felt the school holiday weight lifting from my shoulders. Some people need to sit alone on a tall mountain / deserted beach / cave to think clearly. Some people need to go on a yoga retreat. I also need to retreat. To Westfield Bondi Junction. 

I went to David Jones and bought Working Boy a pile of shirts I thought he would like. This doesn’t sound all that romantic but it’s actually quite thoughtful . 

Working Boy tends to wear his clothes until they are falling apart. He has come home in hospital scrubs (he is not a surgeon) on the odd occasion because he wears things literally until they fall apart, and one time the time they chose to fall apart was while he was at work. The last time we bought him clothes, Baby N was a foetus. And this is Baby N now:



(Gratuitous baby photo)

You can see Working Boy and I have slightly different philosophies when it comes to clothes shopping. Anyway his shirts were starting to look blah, and he had a very hectic working summer with little time for eating and sleeping let alone shopping, so I decided to bring the shop to him. I bought him about 15 shirts that I thought he would like (from David Jones, where I won’t have hassles with returns), I borrowed a clothing rack, and I sent up a little David Jones in the living room, with me playing the part of personal shopper. He loved it. Partly because I had thought about him, and partly because he didn’t need to go shopping anymore. 

Then for another thoughtful touch, I bought him these fabric photo stickers and applied them to his office wall. 





With a ruler and spirit level app and everything! Actually in all honestly I was ordering name labels for the kids (had I had time, I could have done an awesome back to school special…..maybe next year. Working Boy is not getting a big 41st party) and the website, tinyme.com.au, was advertising a special on their photo stickers. It’s easy as anything – their website logs into your instagram, and you just pick your pics. Yeah, Working Boy loved that too. And the kids were pleased with their name labels. 

Finally we decided we would choose an Aquabumps print together to mark the occasion. We haven’t got around to that yet. As mentioned, Working Boy is not great with non-urgent shopping and it’s hard to urgently need artwork for your walls. Believe me I have tried, but there is no “pants split at work” equivalent to photos on the walls. We’ll get there eventually.

Despite the fact that it was HIS birthday, WB composed and PERFORMED (in front of gathered friends and family) a song for me. It’s really good. Not just because it’s about me. It is actually good. That is the ultimate cost-free present. And if that’s what I get for his 40th, I can’t WAIT till mine!

*okay so I started writing on Tuesday but it took me another 3 days to finish.  Baby N woke so I neither wrote NOR tidied. The ultimate injustice.

Shopping Amnesia

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I went to order a book the other day. Good Enough: confessions of a less-than-perfect mum” by Dilvin Yasa. It looks like my kind of book. Motherhood: self-deprecating, honest, amusing. I once, only once, bought a book that was the opposite of this. Some sort of guide to yummy-mummy-hood. Singing the virtues of hummus on oat cakes as a good snack to get through those timeless newborn days. The importance of me time. Date nights. Taking care of yourself (gym euphemism) and other such ideas which are so far removed from my experience of motherhood that it’s surprising we can use the same term for the process of looking after a small person we call our own. Unless those oat cakes were laced with Valium/coffee/wine/something illegal.

Anyway, Yasa’s book does not look like this at all, and I want to read it. So I went online to order it and then I paused. Because I was experiencing déjà vu and I thought to myself “Have I already bought this and forgotten?”. I know I haven’t read it, and I do want to, but I honestly could not remember if I had perhaps already purchased it and was waiting for it to arrive. Or had I bought it on the kindle app, and then promptly forgotten (because really the only time I read is after dinner on a Friday night, when I don’t use my phone / iPad. It’s a Jewish sabbath thing. But the price of a kindle book is so attractive I seem to often overlook this flaw in my reading system).

This is not the first time that I have had shopping amnesia. A while ago I spied a stunner of a Bianca Spender dress on sale online. Reduced from five hundred and something to $220. A dress, I find, is a more economical way of shopping. You get more bang for your buck buying one thing that is a complete outfit than you do with separates. I didn’t buy it because I wasn’t supposed to be spending. But as the date of the end of sale loomed closer I convinced myself that it was A Dress Not To Be Missed. On the last day of the sale, I received an email informing me that it was, indeed, the last day of the sale. Nothing like a bit of pressure to convince you to lighten your purse. I opened the Bianca Spender website but then something happened (most likely Baby N’s mother-sitting-down- and-doing -something-for-herself-radar went off and he woke up) and I got distracted. As I got into bed at 11.30pm that night, I remembered the sale was finishing at midnight. I went back to the website, added the dress to cart, but before I could complete the purchase, I fell asleep. Shopping Girl, Interrupted. I woke up at 2.30am (Baby N’s mother-in-deep-sleep radar) with the phone resting on my finger tips. And then I remembered what it was doing there. I checked the website and true to their word, the sale had ended at midnight. I did also go and put Baby N back to sleep.

Well. Now I was on a mission. Nothing like missing out on a dress to make you realise that it was a must-have. I went to David Jones the next day to find it. I knew it would still be on sale there. There it was, but in miniature. I asked the sales assistant for my size, and she helpfully told me that rather than transfer from another branch, they would post it directly to me. I think she was happy to avoid a second encounter with Baby N who was vocalising his displeasure at the sedentary pram.

I was extremely impressed when the next day a courier showed up at my door with the dress. The sender was not DJs, however, it was Bianca Spender. And then I began to worry. Had my thumb just pressed “confirm”
as I fell into my heavy slumber? Or had I been sleep shopping? Was I now the owner of two stunning Bianca Spender dresses?

This shopping amnesia all comes about from online window shopping I guess. It’s a bit like browsing, even trying on a bunch of things, and then walking out the store. Sometimes I shop online, fill up my cart, but once I take a look at that total, sometimes seconds away from clicking confirm, I instead close the window. It still feels a bit like shopping. I know I’m not the only one who does this. Or sometimes I just leave the safari window open to remind myself that when the credit card clicks over to the next month, and we’re not so close to maxing out, I really should but that dress / book / electric guitar.

This behaviour makes it very difficult to remember sometimes if I’ve actually bought something and I’m still waiting for it to arrive or whether I’m still waiting to buy it. I end up searching my inbox, and then my email trash, for purchase confirmations, which 99% of the time do not exist.

Once Shopping Amnesia is recognised as a legitimate medical condition it will provide the perfect response to that age old suspicious question, “Is that new??”. “Yes, honey, I guess it is. I just found it hanging in my wardrobe. I remember seeing it in the shop, but everything after that is a blank”.

And fortunately there’s no pill for amnesia.

Happy Shopping!!

XOXO Shopping Girl

What did the postman bring today?

Working Boy would like to see some regular segments on this page, so without further delay, I present to you:

“What did the postman bring today?”

Today the postman brought two things:
1. Fingerless typing buddy mittens by Cashmerism from http://www.hardtofind.com.au
Gloves and babies are like milk and meat. They just don’t mix (does anyone else have that CD?). It is near impossible to keep your digits warm and your baby happy. Motherhood in general is just not compatible with glove wearing. These gloves are a happy medium between keeping my extremities warm and keeping my much in demand fine motor skills available. They have the almost-as-important benefit that YOU CAN STILL USE YOUR iPHONE. Fingertips are the best. Ignore the fact that mine are in desperate need of a manicure and focus on how snuggly yet useful they are looking. At $59.95 they are my winter essential, and even more of a bargain for me, because my mother (henceforth to be know as MOS-G) sent them to me.

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2. In September, Working Boy and I will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary. We still have the same bed linen I chose when I was 22 and doing the registry. To say my taste has changed is an understatement. To say I am SICK TO DEATH of our bed linen is also. Our old linen does not match the new house. Our old linen does not match me.
I had been eyeing this Calvin Klein linen for at least 18 months. In that time not once did it go on sale.

Last Thursday night I went to the supermarket at 8.50pm to buy Working Boy some food to take to a conference in Brisbane that he was leaving for first thing Friday morning. I walked past @davidjones on my way and saw that lo and behold their stocktake sale had started without me. 8.53pm I went in and THERE IT WAS at 50% off. Except it wasn’t because they didn’t have the size I needed. A visit to the counter, city store on the line and they could post it to me at a cost of $9.95. Everyone seemed very concerned that I knew that the shipping would be $9.95. I explained that it was cheaper than PARKING in the city. They were still concerned. They don’t know my baby. I would have paid $20 in shipping to NOT take him shopping in the city.

And so here it is – my beautiful Calvin Klein Regent Damask bedding. You are finally mine. .

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