The whole fam went to the Mall of America a weeks or so ago. I think the only things we bought were boots for the kids and a book for Connor for Christmas. Grace insisted on the Disney Princess boots and I gave in even though they are close to the ugliest footwear I have ever seen in my life. And the bottoms light up. Yuck. (Also, we had lunch and Grace got to go on three rides, mostly free because we found an all-day band lying on a bench.)

Tangent alert: While there, I saw the new American Girl store and knew better than to ask to go in. I read all the books when I was a kid. Well, all the ones available at the time, which was maybe two dozen. I think there are hundreds now. I have a look-alike Felicity and some homemade look-alike clothes. So I get the American Girl thing. But why oh why oh why would you pay $20 to have someone braid your doll’s hair at the store’s doll salon? This is a really nicely done story on the store that’s worth checking out.

The day after Thanksgiving, I got to do some alone shopping while Mark and the kids were at Gramma and Grampa W’s house. Same amount of time as the mall excursion (about three hours), but I bought a suit for Mark to wear in Becky’s wedding, two gifts each for Mark, Connor, Grace, our niece and our nephew, a sweater and mitten clips for Grace and Connor, and a bunch of scrapbooking stuff for me. And because it was all on sale, or bought with a coupon or second-hand, I paid about half what it would have all cost full-price and new.

The following day, still sans family, I did some all-local shopping with Lauren. We hit nearly every store on Grand Ave. We had coupons for that too, thanks to the Blue Sky Guide. I got gifts for Connor, my dad, sister, brother-in-law-to-be and a friend whose name I drew in a gift exchange.

What a difference kids make, eh?