Yesterday, Annabel and I went to the Apple store to get a new power charger for the laptop (Charlie ate through the old one the other evening - oops). We finished our transaction, played on the iPads for a bit, then walked back out into the mall. I was ready to go home and make dinner, but Bel pulled me to a stop.
After a short discussion, she whispered "but I want to stay for another hour."
Me, confused: "To shop?" She nodded. "What are we shopping for?" I asked.
"I need a swimsuit," she said.
When we were at the hotel pool a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that her old suit wasn't fitting so well. We casually discussed getting a new one. We've looked at a couple of mail-order catalogs. But we're still getting freeze warnings here, so it's not like it's an urgent need.
"OK," I said. "We can look. Let's start at The Children's Place, OK?"
We looked at the suits there - no dice. Mostly they had bikinis with rash guards to wear over the top, and Bel wasn't interested. She tried on some sunglasses but didn't like the way they fit. After browsing a few minutes, I asked if she'd like to try a different store. She agreed, so we crossed the mall to the Gap, and she promptly fell in love with a pair of lavendar flip flops. We tried on 5 or 6 swimsuits -- all of them had to coordinate with the flip flops -- and after some trial and error found a cut and size that she said was comfy.
Mission complete, we checked out, and she proudly toted her shopping bag out to the car. As she predicted, the whole thing took about an hour.
She's done this before, but I tend to forget that she not only enjoys shopping, she's good at it. She shops with a goal, knows what she likes, and when we find what she needs, she's done. This is completely unlike her brother, who is happiest when I surprise him with LEGO Star Wars t-shirts, socks, and swishy pants from Target -- and unlike her dad or even me. So I'm always kind of amazed when she leads me off on a shopping expedition like an expert little shopping sherpa.
How long do you think I have to wait before I can hire her to shop for me???
When we got back from the mall, we found Jon and Otto had returned from an afternoon birthday party. On the kitchen counter was a Nerf water pistol. Otto has a big Nerf water gun, and while looking for a gift yesterday, he spotted the little version. It's got the same style and pump-action water shooting feature as his, but is sized better for a little sister's smaller hands. So he and Jon decided to buy it for her. She loves it. And it's the perfect accessory for her new swimsuit.
Today she was admiring her new flip flops and talking about where she'll wear them this summer. To the water park. To grandma's house. In the backyard. Swimming with Hallie. Etc. Summer ahoy!
Summer is also when we begin a new fiscal year at work, and the budget keeps getting tighter and tighter. It's completely expected given the economy. We're getting good at requesting (and getting) grants for programs, so that's a bright spot. A couple of weeks ago I read a post at Door 16 that resonated, though - Anna quoted Chuck Close, who said "Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work." I'm not anything like an artist, but I can and do get stuck in that "there-must-be-a-better-way-to-do-this" trap. I keep thinking if I was better at everything - from fund raising on down - the situation would be better. But in the end, I don't think there's one perfect way to manage having the budget cut significantly year over year. You do what you can and keep moving forward and work on the things that count the most.
So, instead of beating myself up, I'm going to adopt Annabel's approach. We have a mission, and within a reasonable amount of time we're going to find a solution that fits and feels right. Then we'll settle up, leave the store, and get set to enjoy summer.