Maybe it’s time for Target to offer me a corporate sponsorship

“Mommy, is there Target in heaven?” David asked me one morning.

“Um,” I answered. “Well, David. The Bible doesn’t specifically say. But. I don’t think it would be heaven without Target.”

We have conversations like that a lot. My kids love Target. Because when we go, they never know what we’ll leave with. And isn’t that everyone’s favorite thing about Target? We might very well go in there looking for school supplies and leave with a Halloween costume for our cat. And if Mommy’s feeling generous, maybe even a new car for David’s Lightning McQueen line-up. And always, always a snack.


A few weeks ago, Tom and I were having lunch at his parents’ house, and we were chatting about restaurants we like.

There was a pause in the conversation and Mary Virginia piped up, as she likes to. Her back straight and eyebrows raised, contributing to the adult discussion with confidence as if we had all been waiting to hear her opinion.

“My favorite place to eat is…is…is Target.”

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We were once reading a book and when I read the word “pizzazz” David asked me what it meant. I answered that it means something that is extra special or exciting.

“So, Target is pizzazz?”



I don’t know where they got their obsession with Target. I love Target, but there’s no way they like it because of the adorable seasonal decorations. After Thomas was born, Target was the first place I went with all three kids. He was probably two weeks old, so getting out of the house for a two mile trip to Target took a combination of math, magic, and good fortune. After coordinating Thomas’s nursing needs, and getting everyone’s shoes on (whatever, we don’t need shoes, WE CAN BUY SOME THERE!), I herded all three out to the car, snapped three different carseats, and by the time we got parked, Thomas already needed a new diaper.

After I parked, I sat there for a while to figure out the best strategy for getting the kids from the car to the store. I changed Thomas’s diaper on the passenger seat of the van, put him back in his carseat, put David in the cart, buckled Mary Virginia in the front of the cart, then wrapped Thomas up in the Moby and headed into the store.



This photo is from the first trip with all three kids, when David offered to buckle Mary Virginia’s buckle to help me, since I was holding Thomas. And when I saw her buckled like this, I laughed harder than a recently-postpartum woman can safely laugh.

While we were there, several people gave me kudos for being out with three kids. I shrugged. We were at Target. Target is no big deal. It’s not like we were at the grocery store.

We were all excited to be out of the house and headed into the bright glow of Target, where there were aisles and aisles of things in chevron and ikat, somehow marketed to all of us. And coffee. Iced coffee with sugar-free vanilla and a splash of half & half, in a handy cup-holder clipped to the side of my cart, and a refill on the way out for just $0.53.


The complicated process of cleaning out my closet

In the past few weeks I’ve started to feel more like myself. Slowly, slowly my energy and motivation is returning. The change is subtle (I am, after all, still waking up with a baby 2-3 times a night) but this is the best way I can describe it:

A few days ago I noticed a thick coat of dust on my blinds. When I was pregnant, I would have thought, “Ugh. My house is gross and I’m exhausted I’m a complete failure as a wife and mother soooo…Oreos?”

Instead, I thought, “I need to dust.”

See what I mean? Subtle. It’s an attitude shift; I’m not quite moving mountains over here. (But I did dust my blinds.)

I’ve also started looking at my house with a more critical eye. I’ve purged toys and kitchen clutter. I’ve rotated the kids’ clothes and sorted through art supplies. Honestly, the results aren’t dramatic, but we have five people living in 1240 square feet, so any time I toss something in the donate bin it feels good.

In the midst of this fall-cleaning-reverse-nesting I got an email from Apartment Therapy to join their Closet Cure. I’ve done Apartment Therapy’s January Cure before, and I like their style. I figured I could read through the assignments and get rid of a few things.

The Closet Cure was great. It addresses every “type” of clothes (sweaters, outerwear, socks, etc.) and encourages you to ask a bunch of questions I’ve gotten used to from exercises like this. Do the clothes fit?Are they in good condition? Would you wear them on a date? Stuff like that.

I asked myself the “Closet Cure” questions, tried to be decisive, and put a few things in the giveaway pile. But the “Cure” wasn’t really curing anything.

The problem is those questions don’t work well for me. Lots of my clothes don’t fit, but it’s not because I’m a delusional hoarder. It’s because I’ve been pregnant and postpartum since 2009. (That’s also why I’m hesitant to try a capsule wardrobe.)

Plus, I really don’t have a lot of clothes. Honest. I’ve only owned one pair of jeans since 2007. That is a true fact. But because I don’t buy much every item feels Important. That sweater isn’t just a sweater, it’s The Sweater. Or, since I don’t shop a lot, I think, “Even though I don’t wear this beautiful cardigan, I can’t get rid of it because if I do I will literally have nothing to wear. Even though it’s not true. If I get rid of all my cardigans, I still have 10 years of Monument Ave. 10K race shirts I can wear.

Ultimately I hang on to things longer than I should; even when they’re out of style or in bad condition or I just don’t really like it anymore.

Right in the middle of all this, an ad for ThredUp popped up on my Facebook feed. This was either very fortuitous or a result of contextual advertising (Tom taught me the term “contextual advertising.” But when I asked him, “Is there a word for, like, when Gmail reads your emails and gives you ads based on the content?” He answered, “Yeah. Creepy.”)

ThredUp is basically an online consignment service. You send them your awesome clothes and if they’re as awesome as you think they are, ThredUp pays you for them.

Amazingly, I stumbled upon the “question” that worked for me. Would I rather sell this item, or keep it? I can’t tell you how refreshing it felts to discover my decluttering motivation. It was like finally pushing the right button. This was especially good for the clothes that I was hesitant to toss because they were expensive and high quality — even I don’t wear them.

I pulled out every piece of clothing and asked, “If I could sell this, would I?” Using that question, I filled my ThredUp bag with 29 articles of clothing and four pairs of shoes. Then I bagged 19 items for Goodwill.

I did not, however, give away my Umbros or Franklin County Track & Field t-shirt. I’ve been running in this getup since 1996 and that’s a streak I’m not willing to break.

closet clean out

Tom’s birthday is coming up, and I’m planning to use my ThredUp earnings to buy him a Tesla Model X. (He says the Model S is big enough for our family, but I disagree.)

Kidding. In fact, I’m trying to be really, really realistic about the resale value of my castoffs. My goal, I decided, is to make enough to cover the cost of a Java Chip Frappucino. It’s a win-win because even if I don’t make tons of money, I got a cleaner closet out of the deal. But a Frapp would be nice, too.

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Once it’s all bagged up, all you have to do is plop it on your porch and the mail carrier picks it up.

I was amazed by this. I just put a giant bag on my stoop and the mail carrier knew what to do. Incredible. I read the directions several times, then kept checking to see if the bag was still on my porch.

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This illustrates, perhaps, the hardest part of the whole process. Cleaning out, sorting, organizing — BEING PRODUCTIVE IN ANY WAY — with kids around.

thredup 1

I went outside to put the bag on the porch and instead of taking a quick picture and darting back inside, I spent the next 10 minutes saying, “Mary Virginia, get off the bag. David, put the bag down. Mary. Off the bag. GET OFF THE BAG STOP TOUCHING THE BAG.”

Then, and I honestly have no idea how this happened, fewer than five minutes after I took the photo above, our hose was on, David had yanked the extender off our down spout, Mary Virginia was in her underwear and rubbing mud on her legs. And we were still waiting on the mail carrier.

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But I do know that, because of my little chore — putting out the ThredUp bag — my kids played outside on a rainy day. Then I hosed them off and we had a picnic lunch on the porch. And after we went inside to warm up in a bath before nap time, the mail carrier came and whisked away that giant bag of clothes I should have gotten rid of a long time ago.


A few weeks ago I saw one of my neighbors, who doesn’t have kids, walk out her door, get in her car, and drive away. I watched her, completely amazed. Even more amazing, I thought, was the possibility that the idea had struck her just moments before, “Oh, I think I’ll make a quick trip to Starbucks!” and then she stood up, opened her door, and walked out.

Just like that.

It’s hard to comprehend because in my house, we have to start planning to leave the night before. Even then, the act of walking out the door takes at least forty-five minutes of packing, potty stops, nursing the baby, looking for shoes, sending someone to time out, re-packing bags that got pilfered while Mommy was out of the room, one more potty stop…and that’s all just to go into the backyard.

The entire time, I’m repeating the same instructions over and over and over.

The other day I was holding Thomas in his carseat in one arm, my purse and coffee in the other, and propping the screen door open with my leg while David dawdled in the doorway in front of me.

Me: David, go out the door.


Me: David, go out the door.


Me: David, go out the door. Go out the door, David. David, go out the door. Go out the door! GO OUT THE DOOR!

David: finally, walks out the door

I walk out, and kneel in front of David so we’re eye-to-eye

Me: David, didn’t you hear me the first time? Why do I have to repeat myself so much?

David: Oh, I’m sorry, Mommy. I thought you were singing a song.