Thursday, May 17, 2012

Goodwill Hunting

Six years ago Barb and I began a tradition of an annual girl’s weekend. We stay at her parent’s condo and spend most of our time giggling like school girls. Since that time, we’ve only missed one year -- when Barb so rudely decided to bear twins in favor of drinking a margarita lakeside. The following story is taken from our last trip.

All the signs were there, a drop in humidity, a plethora of color against a clear, blue sky and an intense desire to head south. Fall had arrived and with it signaled my annual pilgrimage to Lake of the Ozarks, the land of Hee Haw and shopping at the Osage Beach Outlets.

Barb and I had been planning this trip since the day after we returned from our previous getaway. Between us, we have six kids under the age of eight. Our days, for the most part, revolve around our kids and their schedules. The term “stay at home mom” is an oxymoron for us, as we spend most of our waking hours carting kids to violin lessons, gymnastics, Brownies, Lego club, dance and swim team. We also both manage to keep one foot in the working world by holding down part-time jobs. 

Though only three miles separate our homes, our face-to-face meetings are infrequent. Our favored method of communication is by phone. With our brood, most of our “lunch dates” are made up of two parts refereeing to one part consumption. In between breaking up disagreements over Polly Pockets and doctoring scrapes incurred on the Big Wheel, we shovel in bites of chicken salad and copious amounts of chocolate. Our husbands have never understood how we can have so much to discuss on the phone even after we’ve just spent an entire day together.

“Are you ready?” Barb yelled out her car window as she pulled up to my house, affectionately dubbed the dollhouse by my husband who likes to joke, “It’s so small you have to go outside to change your mind.” 

Were the people living in 1929 really that much smaller than you and I? What I truly want to know is what were they wearing? I can only assume not very much as the bungalow we reside in only comes equipped with a single closet. One! And I’m not talking about one of those fancy-schmancy, souped-up closets complete with floor to ceiling shelving and hooks for everything including a mini-fridge and a twin bed. I’m talking about the kind that provides a season of clothing, a dozen shoes, and enough space to stand and consume an entire family-sized bag of peanut M&M’S (a.k.a. evils) while reflecting over the joys of motherhood. 

Barb had traded her van for her husband’s trusty, albeit slightly rusty Corolla. What it lacked in size and features it made up for in more parking choices and better gas mileage. This in turn translated to more time and more money for us to share with our friends, like Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.

I met her at the driveway with bags in tow. I packed light to conserve trunk space. But I made sure to bring along the essentials like comfortable shoes, a curling iron, a People magazine, a bottle of wine and enough chocolate to send us into a very sweet coma.
While I hoisted my things into the trunk, I spied her copy of “What Not to Wear” and a bottle of rum. I sighed as I thought, I’m so lucky to have such a level-headed friend with her priorities in order.  As I closed the passenger door, Barb threw our conservative, yet sensible wheels, into reverse and turned to me to exclaim, “We’re free!” 

Our get-out-of-jail-free card allowed us to be free of “Honey, have you seen my keys?”; pureeing vegetables in hopes of sneaking nutrition into our kids’ bellies; overflowing toilets; spelling-out words not meant for little ears; and peeing in front of an audience of pint-sized people!

In the words of Timon and Pumba, “Hakuna Matata” baby! 

Interestingly, our shopping excursion did not begin in Osage. In our futile attempts to shake our penny-pinching mom mentalities, we made a brief detour to a local Goodwill. The shop was oddly nestled in a place better known for having luxury car dealerships, high-end furniture stores and drive-thru med spas. 

Our first thought? Halloween costumes! Seriously, is buying a brand new costume the kids are only going to parade around in for a few hours – in the dark -- worth the same as say ten, family-sized bags of Reese’s peanut butter cups? I think not.

We took our job seriously and tackled each rack with intense focus. I found a pair of monarch butterfly wings for my four-year-old princess, while Barb scored a doggy pumpkin costume, complete with lid, for her fifteen-year-old pooch. My little butterfly whisperer would be ecstatic. And we both agreed Peyton (the dog) would welcome the change of style, as she seemed to be growing tired of the usual crowns and boas the kids enjoyed dressing her in. Then we split up so we could cover more ground. Barb headed to the kids aisle while I wandered over to the men’s section. As I flipped through the endless racks of size 46 x 30 khakis, I thought, it may be true that nice guys finish last, but it is also true that only short, fat ones donate their pants. 

As I was contemplating this idea, I spied a horrifying sight, dozens of ginormous, pre-owned, tighty-whiteys displayed on metal clip hangers. And like a train wreck, I couldn’t seem to look away. In fact, I had an uncontrollable need to move in for a closer look. 

Suddenly, my concentration was broken by Charlie Brown’s teacher making a public service announcement to all shoppers. I could only make out the tail end of it, something about free and a time limit. However, as I followed the stampede of sale junkies, my eyes landed on several, large shelves of unopened toys. As I began loading my cart, my inner hoarder was fast at work calculating the obscene amount of money our family would save on gift giving this year. I couldn't believe my luck, which made me consider how different men’s and women’s views of getting lucky can be.

To read Part 2: Click "Beach Bound"
To read about our 2012 Girl Getaway Adventure
To learn how Barb and I met   "The Power of One"


  1. Oh how HILARIOUS and OH SO TRUE- all of it! And I am SO jealous that you have this getaway with your bestie to escape the *life* and be on your own to SHOP and drink and eat to your hearts content!!! Oh, the brilliance in this idea. I just love it! I would have hoarded those toys too. LUCKY indeed! ;)

    I am a bit sick though, after reading about the whitie tighties...

    1. A good time for sure. Maybe as the kids get older we have a blog girls getaway weekend...each gal takes a turn hosting in her town. ;-)