Shopping for School Clothes with a Teenager

School clothes
Marley’s Instagram of her school clothes haul

I took Marley shopping for school clothes this weekend. I was hoping to score some good deals from Labor Day sales.  There weren’t as many deals as I had hoped. Probably because I’ve found so much joy in shopping at thrift stores and yard sales lately. It’s hard to wrap my head around a $13 Batman tee shirt as a bargain when I recently purchased three skirts, a sweater and a pair of pants for just two dollars more. (My new favorite game to play with myself is to calculate the cost of my outfit in my head…”Wow, this entire outfit only cost $12 including my shoes and purse. I am one hell of a savvy shopper!”) Marley enjoys my thrifty finds (favorite Vans hoodie for only $1.00 – you’re welcome), but does not enjoy thrift store shopping. Or yard sale shopping. Or, truth be told, shopping in general. But I digress… (which is really hard to do in just one paragraph)… shopping with her made me feel old. Like that mother who just doesn’t get it. We do not think the same things are cute. I really never thought I’d be that mother. I remember shopping with my own mother when I was 13 and the importance of having the right clothes. Cute clothes. Clothes that made me stand out in exactly the right way. (Wait, who am I kidding? I still feel that way.) So I bought her (mostly) what she wanted and was thankful that she becomes bored with shopping so quickly and didn’t really want much. I sent Dave a text from Hot Topic, “What’s worse? Dress code questionable clothing or a Black Veil Brides tee shirt?” His response: “Aaaahhhhhhh!” Aaaahhhhhh indeed.

Activities in LA: Battleship Iowa

I am always looking for activities in LA with my kids. Because having a 16-year-old and 12-year-old is great for help around the house and yard work. (Well, they don’t think that’s so great.) But when you are looking for a fun family activity in  Los Angeles that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Not so great.

Oh how I miss the days when I could throw a few PBJ’s and some sand toys in the car, drive to a local park, sit my butt down in a beach chair, open up my book, tell them to “go play” and call it a successful afternoon. Throw in a couple of Big Sticks from the ice cream truck and I’m Mother-of-the-Year.

Those days are long gone. I suppose I could take them to the park and play Frisbee or football with them. But I can’t imagine it (or rather me) lasting very long.

Of course there are fun and inexpensive things we can do. We can always go to the beach. (Yes, often even in the winter. Sorry east coasters!) But this time of year it’s too cold to go in the water, so they get bored quickly.

Sunset-beach
Who could ever get bored here?

 

And there are hundreds of hiking trails within a reasonable distance (and dozens mere minutes away), but Marley hates to hike and I tire of her nonstop commentary about how “hiking sucks.”

 

los-angeles-hiking-trail
It becomes hard to enjoy this beauty with a whiny tween!

 

Over the winter break when I was really scrambling for things to do with the kids (yeah, this blog is long overdue) my mom stumbled upon a Groupon for the Battleship Iowa in San Pedro. So the four of us, along with my mom, step-dad and 9-year-old nephew made plans for a Los Angeles day trip.

The Battleship Iowa, built in 1940, is one of the largest battleships ever and is now retired and turned into a museum. How big is it? Pretty big.

 

size-of-battleship-iowa
That’s a BIG ship!

 

The Iowa was an important part of the Navy fleet for five decades. It even ferried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Casablanca during World War II. It also served in the Korean War and was recommissioned to serve in the Persian Gulf in the 1980’s. The battleship has been permanently retired and is now a museum.

You take a self-guided tour through the museum, but there are plenty of guides throughout the ship -most of them veterans- to answer questions and tell you facts about the battleship.

The most impressive thing about the battleship is definitely the 16 inch guns…

 

battleship-iowa-16-inch-guns
Those are some big guns!

 

The Iowa was cool enough to keep Chandler-the-history-buff interested and there were enough places to climb and explore to keep Marley entertained. (It probably helped that she got to “be in charge” of my nephew Garrett.)

 

battleship-iowa

 

When we were done exploring the battleship we took a picnic lunch to the Korean Bell of Friendship Park.

Side note: If there is going to be a Ross Family outing you can pretty much guarantee a picnic lunch will be involved. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating out (I do) or that I’m particularly healthy (I’m not), I just don’t enjoy paying for a meal out. (I’m not cheap, just frugal poor.) And since there were seven of us on this day, and the weather was gorgeous, we decided a salami on rye with some Fritos (see not so healthy) and orange slices at a beautiful park beat a $40+ fast food or $80+ sit down meal.

 

Korean-Bell-of-Friendship
Korean Bell of Friendship (featured in the movie “The Usual Suspects”)

 

The bell and pavilion were donated in 1976 to the people of Los Angeles by the people of the Republic of Korea. The park is lovely and has an amazing ocean view. There was even a playset for Garrett to play. (And Marley to boss him around.)

 

Korean-Bell-of-Friendship-Park
What a gorgeous place for a picnic!

 

Most people would head home after spending a few hours on a battleship and then picnicking for an hour or so. But most people are not the Ross family!

I like to look in funky thrift stores and Chandler likes to poke around antique stores. We did a search for antique stores on my mom’s iPhone, but the places we found were no longer there. I did find a really cool thrift store (I like to look for clothes) but everyone quickly lost patience with me so we didn’t spend nearly enough time there.

After that we drove to Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes. It was designed by Lloyd Wright (the son of Frank Lloyd Wright) and is truly stunning.

 

Wayfarers-Chapel
Beautiful!

 

It’s a big wedding destination and a bit of a tourist trap, but I think it’s peaceful and very lovely. We met a couple who were in town from Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl game (I told you this blog was overdue) who had gotten married in the church 25 years ago. It was so sweet to hear them reminisce.

 

Wayfarers Chapel
A beautiful place for a wedding

 

After touring the church it was almost 4:00. Everyone was tired and ready to go home. We kept a 16-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old entertained (on a budget) and deemed the day a success. What a great idea by my mom. I think she just stole my title of “Mother of the Year.”

At this posting the Groupon for the Battleship Iowa is still available. To check it out click here.