Saturday morning, swim lessons resumed. She was not as enthusiastic for this session, but a) she hasn't quite passed the last level of Starfish Swim School b) I don't want her to forget what she learned in 2013 before Day Camp starts in June and c) I really liked having to be at the gym once a week. But she spoke with reason and conviction about sleeping in, and not having to be anywhere on Saturdays. So we've only re-enrolled for a 5 week session. And we switched to an earlier time slot, to make more of the day available to us afterwards. We'll see how it goes. She did well. She has a new instructor, and she seemed to be having fun with the other little girl in her group.
Afterwards, we started on our big project of the day: shopping for a new storage shed. We had done a little research before, but we hadn't decided. So we went to Home Depot. After waiting for a while for the right salesperson, we got a quote on a lovely wood shed, painted to match our house. AJ was tired and hungry. She let us know it, too. We had lunch at the closest possible place (Honeybaked Ham) and discussed what to do next.
We had planned to visit the far side of Trussville. We go pretty often, but it is frustrating because although there is lots of shopping in our neighborhood, the national chains tend to land in the suburbs. It is terrible to live somewhere for the sake of convenience, when it doesn't turn out to be especially convenient.
AJ declared she just couldn't go to Trussville."Why?" I asked. "Are you on the run from the law?"
In retrospect, I should have delivered her immediately to her grandparents. But she came along with us and reminded us that she wanted to go home about every five minutes.
Our first stop was a local chain called H and H. They sell things like sheds and swimming pools. Unfortunately, they don't believe in urban homes with small backyards, so their 8x8 sheds were too big for the footprint we need. There you have it: I tried to shop locally, but it didn't work out. They have some neat pool tables, though.
Next up was clothes shopping. This did not got our mission, but it did fit our location. AJ wanted to return a shirt to Marshall's. It was fine, but she thought it was too short. We ended up getting a different shirt (Jessica Simpson brand, no less -AJ has fancy taste) and some sweatpants (because she also loves comfort like her mama). Ben got a sweater with some remaining store credit he had, too.
Then we went over to Kohl's to spend the Kohl's cash I had "earned". They are a tricky store! Before Christmas I went out there to return a sweater, which was great but had to be hand washed or dry cleaned. That reminds me of the Mitch Headberg joke: "This shirt is 'dry clean only,' which means...it's dirty." Anyway, I did a lot of Christmas shopping while I was there and earned $20 in Kohl's Cash to spend after Christmas. With the credit from the return and my birthday money, I shopped online to get myself a bunch of new clothes. It is easier to find my size and laundry requirements online. I caught some sales and an additional 15% off Promo code, which along with my Kohl's Cash kept bringing down my total so low that I had to keep adding items to my cart to qualify for free shipping! So I got myself a nightgown, a sweater, a pair of pants, a long sleeve t-shirt, a dress, and some workout pants (which they ended up not having and canceling, but with no penalty), and for AJ I got a pair of pants, a shirt, and a nightgown. The shirt has owls, polka dots, a bow, and purple and green in it - it's like our family designed it or something. It's a size 7 for length. AJ kept getting rid of her 6 and 6X clothes because we could see her belly when she raised her arms - a tall kid problem I was unaware of in my own experience, to be sure.
So tricky old Kohl's gave me $20 MORE in Kohl's Cash, after I just got everything my heart desired. So Ben got to pick out another sweater. This one was on clearance for $20, so it was nice to hear the cashier say, "You owe nothing." Whew.
Then we resumed our shed buying mission with a visit to Lowe's on the other side of Tussville. The employees there weren't as hard to find as the Home Depot set, but they weren't as friendly, either. We looked earnestly at the wood sheds, but Lowe's was more serious about selling plastic ones - Home Depot didn't even have any on display! We looked and thought. We talked and tested, with AJ running in and out of each one. But still we couldn't truly decide, until we finally picked a 7' x 7' Rubbermaid model that was on sale to purchase. The pros: fits our allowed size, was considerably cheaper, had a better (gabled) roof than out current model, does not need a ramp, will not rust or dent, will not need to be repaired or re-shingled. The cons: plastic can break, especially if the doors are left to flop open, we will have to put it together, we will have to clear a couple more feet of foliage, and we will have to level the ground. Ben noticed the box looked like it had been opened, and he asked the salesman, who read the note that it had a broken piece. The guy said, "yeah, you don't want that one." But he found it at another location, so we called from the car.
It was a long call (through a McDonald's drive-through for Miss I'm Thirsty! and all the way home from Trussville), but we got it ordered and scheduled for delivery next weekend.
We started cleaning out the existing (broken) shed and clearing brush. Ben also worked on cleaning the gutters. We were outside more than an hour, so we were glad the weather had warmed up considerably (temps were in the 60s). We were out without jackets. We tossed a bunch of ruined stuff. It felt good.
AJ was actually really helpful. First, she entertained Radar. Then, she shoveled leaves and mud out of the shed. Then, she went and got her gardening gloves and sacked up leaves. When she came in, she declared she was tired and had been working all day! She put on her nightgown and went off to play with her dolls. She earned that, I guess.
Then, we went to Nana's to drop the nightgown-clad AJ off while we had our date night. Ben's work folks had given him a gift certificate to Ruth's Chris Steak House. We had never been, so we were pretty excited about the experience. A place where we needed "proper attire" and reservations! Ooh la la!
It was actually really nice, but there were some downsides. First, we were seated in the part of the restaurant that juts out into the atrium of the Embassy Suites hotel. It was pretty, but we could see some sort of soup and salad bar, and we kept wondering what the hotel guests were having. The guy who poured our water was nice, but a piece of ice went flying onto my menu and later, when a different guy poured a refill for me, I got a little splash back. Ben ordered a Coke, which they brought out in a little 8 oz bottle. He poured it over the glass of ice they brought and he couldn't get the whole thing in the glass at once there was so much ice! We split an entree, two sides, and a dessert. For the entree, we had the petite fillet and the lobster tail. Ben liked the lobster (how can one not like something dipped in butter?). I liked the fillet, but the first couple of bites were fatty and tough - not what I expected. We ordered sautéed mushrooms, which were very similar to how Ben makes them at home, and the potatoes au gratin were also good, but Ben said the kind from the box are just about the same. We picked the famous chocolate sin cake, which is made with chocolate and espresso. It was heavy on the espresso! Should have gotten the cheesecake. It was a really nice place, with a koi pond to enjoy and nice staff, who made sure to take their time between courses. It was a really nice gift and I am glad we went. We'd rate Fleming's a little higher for high-end chain steakhouses. The menu at Ruth's Chris was certainly big enough for anyone to get something really good, but it wasn't super interesting or adventurous. For example, they had sautéed baby spinach or creamed spinach. Fleming's had chipotle macaroni and cheese. Just a little more flair there.
We picked up AJ, who had been watching figure skating and working a puzzle after eating spaghetti and taking a bath. She did not want to leave. She fussed going to bed, which was my fault because the night before I let her sleep in my bed while Ben was on the sofa. Eventually, she quieted down, and is still asleep, although she may be on the floor since we heard a thud a little while ago.
Here's the dandelion that AJ found in our yard while we were cleaning up. If that could survive our single digit temps this week, I guess it was pretty hardy.