Chicagoans hate February and March. With good reason. The crisp winter air has turned into an incessant biting, arctic blast. January's white blanket of snow has long become a filthy gray mass of ice and slush. While we are carping about dry skin and cold feet, shoveling out the driveway again, we are resigned to two more months of this.
I have an additional seasonal complaint. Right around this time, as the stores are displaying shorts and sandals, the boys' winter gear gives out. Last year, during the first major snow, I trekked to the Lands End Outlet in Niles, the only place I thought actually might have boots in January. (Thank goodness for catalog returns, Not-Quite-Perfect and overruns!) The boys' boots from the previous season were now two sizes too small. Twelve months later, those boots are beyond snug. The calendar may say spring is on the way, but here it's boot-wearing weather well into April. Back again to the Lands End store in the blizzard!
Hart is on his third winter coat this season. In November, last year's jacket looked suspiciously short, but not unwearable. A week before Christmas, I noticed that the bottom of the parka was creeping upward. Time to replenish the closet . . . while the stores still had winter coats. I had to brave the Christmas shopping rush AND take above-mentioned child along. Double-torture. Hart actually wore this jacket for all of three weeks before the zipper broke. A few teeth were defective and the zipper tab came off in his hand. Grrrrrrr.
Receipt in hand, I asked for a replacement. After all, we have plenty of sub-zero weather coming. The manager chuckled, "We don't carry winter items at this time of year." Refund? "It has been worn." Yes. I know. In store credit? "For a percentage of the lowest sale price." OK. Then, back to Lands End again.
Sure, the Lands End sales staff know me. I bought two toddler parkas there in January 1996, right before we left for Russia to pick up the boys. Where else could I have found winter jackets mid-January on very short notice? I've come in regularly since, in all seasons, to paw through the racks for sturdy boy-clothes.
I believe we are well-stocked now until the end of this season. The new Lands End boots are a men's size 9, at the moment one size too large. Both boys' jackets should fit for a few more minutes.
Then at Jeff's speed skating practice, "Mom, you don't want to hear this. My skates are tight." I just bought them in October for this season! "The last meet is in a week. Can you wear them until then?"