About 1000 pieces

By Mir
October 8, 2007

Chickadee and I have been talking about working on a jigsaw puzzle together as sort of our special girl time project. For whatever reason she doesn’t consider all of the things we do together on any given day to count as special time, things like cooking or doing laundry or discussing why none of her jeans fit her anymore on account of she grew three inches this summer or me yelling at her to pick her junk up off the floor. Go figure. So we decided to get a puzzle and set it up in the dining room and try to work on it a little bit every day.

The challenge, of course, will be that she wants it to be something for JUST US and I can already see how this is going to become An Issue because everything must be completely fair, and after Monkey finishes wailing and gnashing his teeth he’ll probably insist that I set up ANOTHER puzzle which is just for me and HIM, and then Chickie will complain that now HER puzzle is no longer SPECIAL and I will have to sell both of them (the kids, not the puzzles, because I rather enjoy puzzles) on eBay.

But in the meantime, because I am a glutton for punishment, I have agreed to this plan.

We went out to lunch yesterday after church because the kids had been exceptionally good and we are lazy. Afterwards we returned home, changed our clothes, and tried to plot a gameplan for the day.

“You said we would buy a puzzle!” Chickadee helpfully reminded me. I nodded, and told her we could probably do that. Of course, she’d also just reminded me that she STILL didn’t have a chest guard for Tae Kwon Do, and that she NEEDED one (she has been borrowing one), so I was online shopping for sparring gear and crying on the inside. I mean, sure, I don’t want my kid ending up with cracked ribs, but when you look at the prices of some of that stuff you start wondering if maybe you couldn’t just tie a pillow to a pizza pan and suspend the whole shebang from her neck. Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks that, because I am cheap.

I finished ordering and went to check on the menfolk. Otto was watching cars going around in circles, and Monkey was reading a book. I casually asked Otto if he would mind if we girls went out to run a few errands, like to drop off a prescription and look for a puzzle and stuff. Otto waved us off, so Chickadee and I set off on an adventure.

By “and stuff” I meant “shop for a purse.”

I am still carrying my summer purse. Now, understand: I am not a Purse Person, really. I have a lighter (fawn/tan) purse for summer and a darker (burgundy) purse for the rest of the year, pretty much. But I went to switch bags a couple of weeks ago and after searching high and low I could not find my other purse. And even though it’s still in the 90s here (side note: Dear Georgia: WTF? Love, Mir) it’s starting to feel a little ridiculous to be carrying what is obviously a summer bag. And really, I haven’t bought a purse for a couple of years, so I felt entitled.

Let me tell you, shopping for a purse with a 9-year-old is highly entertaining. First of all, tween girls are LOUD in both their joy and their horror. There’s nothing quite like standing in TJ Maxx while your kid exclaims “IS THIS REAL FUR??” while beholding a couture bag as if it’s fresh roadkill. These are the moments when I love her the best, when she’s making me laugh and reminding me that this is hardly a serious endeavor, looking for the right receptacle for carrying all your crap.

TJ Maxx had only one bag I even considered, and ultimately I decided that it was more than I wanted to spend. We then went and dropped off my prescription on our way to SteinMart, which is a store that’s new to me but seems to be a similar concept (designer stuff cheap), and hooboy did we have fun there. Just for kicks I started coaching Chickadee on how to figure out if a bag is really leather or not, which led to an interesting discussion about what pleather and PVC are made of, and why, and whether or not a bag has to match your shoes (no) or go with your coat (maybe) and why do some of them have little feet? (You know, I never thought I wanted a girl, but you just can’t imagine the importance you feel, being the one to explain to your daughter why or why not a bag should have little metal feet. It brings a tear to my eye, just thinking about it.)

SteinMart, as it turns out, has a locked glass pillar cabinet in the middle of the purse area, and in that case are things like Coach bags. I found my dream purse in there. It was beautiful. The leather was so buttery I could practically feel it from the other side of the glass. And then I saw the price tag and swallowed my tongue.

Chickadee and I then talked about the relative merits of a really pretty purse vs. a month’s groceries. Who says you can’t learn important life lessons while shopping for accessories??

Needless to say, no purses were purchased. We also looked for a puzzle in every store we went into, and came up empty. (Since when does CVS not have a few jigsaw puzzles around? Hmph.) However, after a hard afternoon of purse shopping, with the estrogen cloud so thick that men were fleeing from the very sight of us, I remembered that I’d promised Chickadee that if she stopped biting her nails, I would let her pick out some nail polish. (I have been waving this bribe in front of her for YEARS and she only in the last couple of months has finally done it. There are no words to convey how enormously proud I am of her, to have stopped such an insidious habit during what has surely been a very stressful time in her life.) So there we were, back at CVS, discussing the relative merits of the pearlescent pink vs. the glittery pink. In the end she selected a shade called SHE’S SO GLITZY which I silently prayed would be more sheer than it appeared in the bottle (otherwise, um, SHE’S SO TRAMPY might be more apropos). She was elated with her selection and we were both giddy by this time, and so somehow we also ended up purchasing our first new Halloween decoration of the season: A skeleton in a cage who lights up, rattles his chains, and begs for you to let him out when his motion sensor is activated.

We are klassy, yo.

Anyway, it was getting late and so we made a run for groceries (hey, no puzzles at Kroger either, WHAT A SURPRISE) and headed home without a puzzle, but I promised to paint her nails that night in lieu of puzzle time, and further pledged to find a puzzle TODAY. And everything would’ve been JUST FINE but of course, life sometimes gets in the way. We had a nice dinner and talked Halloween costumes (oh, do we have some doozies planned… that’s for another day) and went for a walk as a family and had a GREAT TIME!

Right up until it was bedtime and we hadn’t painted Chickadee’s nails.

We would’ve had time, but the kids had screwed around when I sent them upstairs to get ready for bed, and then it was late. No time. And if you are a distraught 9-year-old who was really looking forward to SHE’S SO GLITZY you do NOT want to hear that if only you’d done as you were told you’d have pretty pink nails right now. I told her I’d do her nails this morning if she got up early enough, but that was no comfort at all. In fact, it made her cry harder, because she is so TIRED in the mornings, and getting up EARLY would be TRAGIC!

So she went to bed in tears and then I came downstairs and cried because WHY WHY WHY even when we have an awesome day together can ONE LITTLE THING be what she fixates on and decides that everything is horrible? Why? It just makes me so sad.

This morning she got up early and had her breakfast while I packed lunches and then I painted her nails (and it was a nice sheer glitter sheen, perfectly appropriate for 9 and not skanky at all, PHEW) and she sat at the table, splay-fingered and grinning, until it was time to gingerly collect her backpack and go. And after the kids went to school (side note: Dear Georgia, It’s Columbus Day! WTF? Love, Mir) I went directly to the ONE place I hadn’t looked last week and found my purse, so now I don’t need to buy another one.

This afternoon I’ll go out and buy a jigsaw puzzle and maybe, JUST MAYBE, all will be right with the world.


  1. Leandra

    You should try Hobby Lobby for puzzles. They have a pretty decent selection. I’m a consummate puzzle putter-togetherer in my past life.

    I walked around for an hour with a GORGEOUS $200 purse in my buggy at TJ Maxx once but finally put it away. It was nice to dream, if only for a moment. Sigh.

  2. BOSSY

    Painted Nails make it all better.

  3. prophet

    oh my. . . . anyone who thinks Himself doesn’t have a sense of humor has obviously never had kids. and how we fail to see ourselves in their tragedies, antics, and machinations is likewise amazing! I enjoy witnessing your slice of life, Mir. . . . many blessings on you all. (and p.s., today’s lesson in the chapter from Chickadee was right on target for me).

  4. saucygrrl

    Why? Because 9 year olds rarely have the maturity to take a moment of reflection on non-painted nails to say, “Ok, no big deal. We’ll do it tomorrow.” Or at least I didn’t when I was nine. :)

  5. Charmed

    Oh Mir. I live in MICHIGAN and it’s going to be 90 today…WTF is right! Also, our kids are in school today too.

  6. Sara

    All I have to say to this post after having had a nine year old girl (who is now 11 and that’s a whole ‘nother animal) is : Word.

  7. Stephanie Chance

    WTF, indeed. Daughter was off last Monday for report cards, I’m off THIS Monday for Columbus Day, and stepson will be off next Monday for report cards (they live in different counties). You would think if they were going to have a day off, they would attempt to make it on the nearest holiday.

    Great post. But we want to hear about the Halloween costumes NOW dammit, and that omission has spoiled the entire entry! Harumph! My whole life is ruined! :)

  8. Kate

    Just a note about the dream purse. I am a cheapskate by all accounts. However, I do buy one Coach bag every several years. I justify it by telling myself the cost adds up to all the other purses I would have bought in the meantime. My new bag, I sleep with it. I lovingly carress it when I walk by it. I would run into a burning building to save it. It is my density. Yes, I said density.

  9. All Adither

    I think the skeleton in the cage needs a SHE’S SO GLITZY manicure to go with Chickadee’s. And a new purse!

  10. Mimipz5wjj

    We love puzzles! Try Target — they have great ones called “Can you Find….” They’re really good.

    And love the idea of using nail polish as an incentive to stop nail biting… Unfortunately, I don’t think my boys will go for it….

    Hmmm… perhaps if I told them I AM Going to paint their nail UNLESS they stop???

  11. jennielynn

    I think you should still buy a new purse. But that’s just me.

    Also, the older Chickie gets the less likely she’ll be to fall apart over one little thing. Drama Queen and I go whole days now without yelling at each other. WOO HOO! You knew that, of course, but I had to give you a virtual shoulder pat from someone who’s been there.

  12. Andrea

    Another WTF here in Delaware where it is going to be 87 degrees today!

    TJMaxx is usually a great place to score on purses..

    Target DOES have great puzzles, unless of course you feel up to going to Big Lots with your coupon today. :)

  13. Cele

    I am a one purse fits all type purson :roll: black, no feet, no doo-dahs.

    Psam and I always had a puzzle going, if you come up stumped let me know, I’ll ship you a few. She’s 31 now, I don’t think she’ll miss them.

  14. McSwain

    Here’s what I tell my fourth grade class about “fair”:

    You’re in a restaurant and someone has a heart attack. The paramedics give that person CPR, but not you. You didn’t get CPR. Is that fair? “Of course, it would be silly to give us CPR if we don’t need it!” they all say. “Exactly,” say I. “Fair doesn’t mean everyone gets the same. It means everyone gets what they need.”

    Somehow I think it might be hard to make that fly with the puzzles, though.

  15. arduous

    I know this is terrible, given that I am a 28 year old woman. But my response to this was … purses … have feet?

    And I own about twenty purses. One of which is a beautiful Coach purse. But none of them have feet.

  16. ChristieNY

    Buy 2 puzzles and let Otto & Monkey have special puzzle time together! Then you guys can trade puzzles when your done ;)

    You just reminded me that my poor kate spade purse (which I’ve carried year round for 5 yrs) just ripped from being overstuffed with two sippy cups and diapers and junk. What? I wan’t going to give it up just because I had kids! lol

    Glad you found you missing purse, now you can put the other one on your Christmas list!

  17. Bri

    It’s 90 today here in St. Louis, too. And supposed to be in the 60’s by this weekend. Oy.

  18. Nancy R

    My Chickie-aged daughter stopped biting her nails earlier this year. Santa left a dandy nail filing/buffing/shining block ($1 travel item, Target) in her stocking and all that work on keeping her nails shiny was enough to keep the nibbling at bay.

    Also, can you educate me as to why some purses have feet?

  19. Kris

    Dude, go to karatedepot.com and get the chest protector there (if you don’t get one on ebay – but compare before you buy! Sometimes karatedepot is better than ebay). Shipping is $2.95 and pretty quick.

    Or you could let me know what type of protector she uses (a pic would help) and I could see if Kasia still has her spare lying around. We’d be glad to send it to you…)

  20. Stacey

    Yeah! If it’s any comfort, my kids have the knack for always fixating on the one thing that could have gone better also! Drives me crazy! Also, I never knew Ohio and Georgia were so similar. We’re still in the 90’s and have school on Columbus Day. WTF? Hang in there. Don’t work too hard to find the puzzle…whatever one you pick will probably be wrong!

  21. Heather

    My mom and I would brew and drink a pot of tea together as our special time together,… since I was the oldest, we did it after the other kids were in bed. I deeply treasure the memory of those evenings!

  22. Daisy

    We used to have SteinMart in our region, but not anymore. We have Gordman’s, which is a similar concept. I enjoy them; I always spend too much. In fact, I bought myself a new purse there Saturday night with my daughter (age 20)! Ah, mother-daughter bonding.

  23. Kimberly

    Diva Girl does that too. Reminds how fabulous she is, and how much I LIKE her, not just love her, and then whamo! Reminds me why some animals eat their young.

    Why DO purses need feet?

  24. Fold My Laundry Please

    Nothing sets the world right again like a good puzzle!

    Also, wouldn’t it be great to start a puzzle exchange? I have so many puzzles and rarely do I put them together a second time. Although shipping costs might just be about the same as buying a new puzzle. Hmmmmm…I’ll have to put some thought into that one.

  25. Kay T

    They sell Coach purses on e-bay. Just saying. Especially since I got a Want-not special (bookshelf) at Overstock with $1 shipping so I OWE you!

  26. StephLove

    I have no idea what normal weather for Georgia is this time of year, but from what people are posting it seems the heat wave is all over the country. Here in Maryland it’s supposed to be 90 tomorrow, about twenty degrees over the normal high for the second week of October. (Toddler and I played in the wading pool this afternoon. It seemed odd sitting in the water looking at the first scatterings of leaves on the ground.) All this is a long way of saying, it might not be like this every year.

    First-grader had school today and Partner was off. Is it wrong to say I LOVE Columbus Day for this very reason? Veteran’s Day is almost as good, though I think school dismisses early that day. The real treat will be when both kids are in school and we get some entirely kid-free time together. The mind boggles.

  27. carolyn

    Target= jigsaw puzzles, nail polish AND purses. And a whole bunch of other stuff you didn’t know you needed. Need I say more?

  28. mar

    I just got one from eBags that I love – it was a little more than I wanted to pay, but it is of such nice quality that I’m hoping it will be worth it.

    And maybe it’s a regional thing, but my WTF moment came today as I read Stephanie Chance’s comment on this post – your kids get off from school for report cards? Seriously?? Why oh why?? Do other places do this?? I’ve lived in the Northeast all of my life and never heard of this – is it a regional thing?

    And yes, it was 91 here today – normal temps this time of year here are 67, so yes, I can go w/a WTF for that too.

  29. mama speak

    I lurve McSwain’s “fair” explination. I’m so adapting that for my 4YO–I don’t think she’d really understand the heart attack & CPR part yet, but love the “get what you need” answer.

    My WTF is that you all seem to have MY weather! So WTF w/that people??? We live in NorCal & this is usually “Indian Summer” (I know, not PC, but you all know what I meant, didn’t you?) It was only 77 today! Usually it’s in the 80s during the day & cool at night, so you get to wear summer clothes in the day & fall clothes in the evening. AND the best part is we have no fog, no marine layer, so the beaches are in the 70s!!!! Last week we were in the 60s & it RAINED, it doesn’t rain that early here! I actually had to wear closed toe shoes! In October. And it’s supposed to rain again TOMORROW!!! WTF????? Just wrong people…stop global warming now! I’m just saying…

  30. Sara

    I have used that definition for years (only substitute a person who hadn’t eaten for three days and a candy bar for the heart attack and CPR).
    My children’s brains near meltdown mode when I spout off my “fair isn’t equal” lines. I’ve never heard anyone else use it. Ahhh internet, what a small, small world you have created…

  31. Megan

    My mother’s response to the “it’s not fair” whine was “rough tough toenails.” I have no idea what it meant but the mental image sure shut us up quick!

  32. Jenny

    I’ll see your WTF and raise you a screw this, yo.

    If you ever feel like expanding your puzzle search a couple of hours up the road, there is an awesome store up here in Greenvegas called “Boardwalk & Park Place” and they carry every puzzle and board game known to man. It’s a little cave-y kind of place and the people that run it are VERY EXCITED when someone ventures in and VERY HAPPY to help you out. Which is how you walk out with six jigsaw puzzles, a horseshoe detangler kind of thing and a board game, when all you were looking for was maybe a deck of cards.

    Anyway, I second the recommendation of Hobby Lobby. They have a strange selection of surprisingly useful items, I have found.

  33. Jenny

    Oh, and they may not get Columbus Day off, but they might get Confederate Memorial Day off.

    I think here we have advanced so much that we now get a choice between either CMD and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The mind boggles.

  34. Burgh Baby's Mom

    I am so very sorry that you have been missing out on Stein Mart for all these years. Oh how I love me some Stein Mart.

    You must return to buy the Coach bag. Or send Otto (great Christmas gift!) That bag, at Stein Mart, is probably $100 less than it would be at a Coach store. You could buy lots of groceries with the money you’re “saving.” ;-) And Coach purses can survive ANYTHING. Ask my little one that is 10 years old and once got caught in the car door and was drug down the highway for twenty minutes. I still use it.

  35. hannita

    Right. This feet on purses thing. Please ‘splain.

  36. angie

    Toys R Us sells puzzles, and I think Target does, too.

    btw,my husband bought me a Coach purse in 1992, and it just died this year. I’d say that’s a pretty good investment.

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