She was taller than most of the girls her age. She stood, looking much like an elongated version of Cupid, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt of soft crimson paired with pale, pink shorts. She had rifled through the laundry basket earlier that morning in search of clean clothes and had emerged with these items–the only two clean articles of clothing her size in the house. (Though her germaphobe mother wouldn’t let her wear clothing more than once without washing, the mother did not have an affinity for household tasks such as laundry.)

The girl walked into her sixth grade open-concept classroom, where her eyes met with a fellow student and neighbor, *Kara. Kara was dressed in Guess jean shorts, with the trademark inverted triangle on the back pocket and a matching logo shirt in teal. Her eyes scanned the girl’s outfit and whispered something to their mutual friend, Sophia, who was the most popular person in sixth grade.

The girl didn’t know what to think, but she preceded to pull her social studies homework from her yellow Esprit bag and place it in the box on Mrs. Grammer’s desk.

The girl passed through her morning math (they were studying exponents) and language arts (where they were reading a short story by some old French author whose name she couldn’t pronounce). She even made her usual way through lunch, trading a Swiss Cake Roll for a Nutter Bar with her friend Melanie.

On the way back from lunch, the students had a few minutes before settling into their afternoon studies. The girl prepared her mind for work after the sleepiness that was beginning to take hold from digesting carbs and simple sugars, when Kara approached.


The girl turned around, and her eyes met with Kara again.

“Don’t you know your clothes don’t match?”

The girl just shook her head slowly but moved her gaze over the crimson shirt and pale pink shorts. She shrugged. “I thought it looked okay.”

“Well, everyone knows that red and pink don’t match,” Kara responded, her voice filled with contempt at such a fashion faux pas.

The other students who surrounded them followed Kara into social studies, leaving the girl alone in the center of the four open-concept classrooms. She wished she could hide under a table, or better yet go home and change her clothing. She worked each day to find articles that could mix and match in an attempt to fit in with her other “cool” friends.

That day, she had failed.

Fear from that moment still covers her from time to time, like this morning when her nine-year-old descended the stairs pairing a yellow-and-green-striped sock with an orange zebra one. She feels it when her older daughter, an echo of herself (though with much more wisdom and much less boy-craziness) stands with the trendy half-tuck in a monochrome blue ensemble. She wishes she did not carry the weight of that burden, one she has yet to share with the world.

Maybe one day she will learn.

*Names have been changed.

Thrift Shop(ping)

Even before Macklemore, a great thrift shop find delighted me.

I learned about thrift shopping from an English friend. Her family signaled many indications of affluence to me, so I was surprised by a conversation one day in which she shared that she frequented local thrift shops. She told me that she even said a little prayer each time she sat in her car before entering the thrift shop in hope of finding what she needed that day.

I began, following her practice, to seek specific items after looking over our wardrobe needs at home. I was able to find jeans of various sizes for growing kiddos, cute tops for my girls, and even cold weather clothing as our needs changed.

If you or someone you know might like some tips for thrift shopping, here are a few suggestions:

1. Know your wardrobe. If you know your style, what you have at home, and what you need, you can pull together random brands and create ensembles of amazingness–but no one is going to offer you a mannequin to put together a cookie-cutter outfit.

2. Shop for basics. I own several different black skirts. And black shirts. And white shirts. And cream shirts. And various styles of jeans. I have found many of these items thrifting. And I use them regularly to build with prints & stripes & accessories (I adore scarves!) to build an outfit. They are timeless.

3. Don’t be afraid. Thrift stores have a smell to them, don’t they? Who cares? You wash your clothing, right? Carry your hand sanitizer if you must, but go inside and look. Shop. Wash. Wear. Repeat. You are saving the environment, resurrecting retro styles, and helping thrift stores. 🙂

4. Look for “deals” or sales at your local thrift shop. Sometimes, if you ask an employee, they will let you know which items have been in stock longest (many stores have colored tags or other systems of coding items to keep track of shelf life)…& occasionally these items will be discounted even more than the normally low thrift shop prices.

5. Donate. You know that old sweater Great Aunt Marge sent you for Christmas that has been in the back of your closet crowding your clothes for three years? Someone needs it for an ugly sweater party. I promise. Donate it. Share the love. You won’t be sorry. Remember that someone’s trash is another one’s treasure.

6. Ask questions. If you find something you love with a stain or hole along the seam that you could easily fix, ask for an additional discount for your trouble. You may have to wait for a manager, but it could save you some cash.

7. Know your market. Occasionally, you might catch those amazing sales for whatever at the mall. It’s true. And if you can pick up a shirt for a kiddo in your life for less than $1 retail, do it. It’s more economical than thrifting.

8. Go for it!!! If you want to try a new style for you–or a new color–or you wonder if you could pull off a certain something…look for whatever it is at your local thrift shop. That way, if it’s a bomb, you only spent a couple of dollars. But, who knows? You just might ROCK IT!

Best of luck thrift shopping! Do you thrift? Have any fun stories to share? Any fabulous finds? 🙂

Third Time’s the Charm

So, I don’t often work much with clichés or colloquialisms.  In my writing classes in college, we were taught to avoid those types of fall-back phrases in order to explore new ideas and more creative ways to express our thoughts.  In the following cases, though, I have found the phrase “third time’s the charm” to be appropriate. 🙂

First Case in Point:  Dentists

Since our last relocation effort, I have neglected finding a new dentist for my family.  We had insurance issues…and distance issues…and personality issues.  We visited one for a dental emergency that wasn’t the best fit.  We visited another for a cleaning and an attempt to do some work, which also wasn’t the best fit.  Finally, we found a good fit yesterday.  And my child (who had experienced a traumatic dental experience) practically skipped home (figuratively, of course, since we drove), and I have been relieved that all went well.  Third dentist worked!!!!!  Hooray!!!!!

Case the Second:  Boots

Back in this post, I talked about my excitement related to FINALLY ordering brown boots…and how I sent them back.  Well, I ordered another pair of (unmentioned) boots in the meantime, and they were also a no-go.  I was getting a bit frustrated…but, fear not!  The third pair I ordered worked out beautifully!  I wanted heels (not riding boots) in a dark brown color with a more fitted shaft…and not too trendy so they last through several seasons.  I found a pair online that said they were over-the-knee (so I was a little concerned, since I wanted the boots to come just under my knee)…but I guess my legs are long enough that they fit exactly like I wanted them to fit!  Hooray!!!!! No more brown boot shopping for me!  Third pair worked!!!!! (Now, if I can just figure out how to treat suede so that they will be water-resistant…any one?  Any one?)

So, a song from my days of listening to and loving Schoolhouse Rock is playing in my head right now; I guess three really is a magic number.  Do you agree?  What experiences do you have when the third experience worked for you?

Sending hugs!!!!!