Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Continuing Snuggification of America

So now this is happening:

It's the Wearable Towel. Okay, so previously we covered the Snuggie , the "Blanket with Sleeves," and its perhaps-inevitable hipster appeal, which led to lots of ironic (or post-ironic) Snuggie wearing and all-Snuggie pubcrawls and other efflorescences of hipster group-identity consolidation.

And now, for those same people who thought blankets, or for that matter, jackets, were too tricky, we have a wearable towel, just in time for summer. You really need to click over to that site and watch the commercial that plays. That poor girl just can't get her towel to stay wrapped!

This makes me think of several things:

1) Will a dude wear that toga towel? Even a really, really with-it young hipster dude with a full Iron & Wine beard (or whatever facial hair they're sporting these days)? I guess it's possible. And I really want a picture of that.

2) Were there just not enough options in swim cover ups? If your interest is sun protection, that thing doesn't cover your shoulders. If your interest is in drying off, why would you want to wear your damp towel around?

3) A bit of nostalgia: I remember in the late 70's or early 80's, my mom made my sister and me matching swim cover ups out of towels. I think they were just a big towel folded once, sewn partway up the sides to leave armholes, with a head hole cut, and cut and hemmed up the front to make a kind of tunic jacket, that could then be closed with little ties. I wonder if those are still around? Such a great home sewn moment! And the towels were the kind with a little fringe on the ends.

So what do we think of this? My family and I seem to be getting along fine with T-shirts. Will you be rocking the wearable towel? I am willing to suspend judgment on this. Except for dudes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sandwich Crime

So you make piping hot grilled cheese for your child. With lots of butter and white American cheese, and love, on delicious whole-grained bread, but not the "weird bread with all the seeds." And this is how much gets eaten.

Hank Was Here

Can I get a witness? That's all I wanted to say. It just hurts a person's feelings, you know?

And Hank, listen buddy, stacking the dismembered crust-hunks on top of each other, beside the plate, doesn't make it look like you ate the whole thing, genius.

He wanted to "help" me make this sandwich, using his own spatula, or as he renders the word, "spatch-ee-loo-ya." So I let him. Later, after I discovered the sandwich corpse, and asked him, "Aren't you hungry?" He said, "I want to order two meals."

Oh, by all means, sir.

BTW, why YES that is an Orla Kiely for Target plate, and since you ask, it IS resting on one of the Chilewich placemats that I found at TJ Maxx the other day. Chilewich at TJ's. HOLY BARGAINOLLY Batman. Run to yours and see if they're there. The placemats were $2 each instead of the $1,159 they should cost. There, I sorta managed to make this about shopping.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wedding OMG Moments

We all had such a good time the other week discussing different regional wedding traditions and etiquette, I decided to go where I really want to go, which is to ask you, have you ever been at a wedding and something happened that fell somewhere on the continuum from, "Well that was an interesting choice" (bridesmaids carried brandy snifters with votive candles inside), to "OMG" (cake cutting turns into violent food fight)? You know, where your eyes search out your spouse's eyes, or your friend's, or your mom's, anyone with whom you can exchange a wide-eyed, stricken glance? I love those moments.

Disclaimer: one person's OMG moment may be another person's dream wedding; if you did any of the following at your wedding, you are adorable and I am sure it totally worked for you.

Here are a few from my experience to start the ball rolling. I'm including brief commentary.

1) I was asked to (and did) walk the bride and groom's dog down the aisle at a wedding. I was young, and how do you refuse such a request? Now, this may not be an OMG moment any more, because I think having pets in weddings has become more common? Or at least I could swear that I've seen wedding-themed dog collars on the market. But this was ten years ago--nobody had ever heard of this--and the dog-walking could not have been more incongruous with the setting. The wedding was in a beautiful old New England church, think white clapboard, dark wooden pews, and ghosts of dead Puritans. The bride's mother had woven Nantucket baskets for each bridesmaid to carry, filled with flowers. (Ha! Take that, brandy snifters.) It was like the absolute height of taste, and everything was lovely. And then there was me leading the dog down the aisle, in lieu of a flower girl. The photographer loved me (I had to have my picture taken WITH THE DOG, KNEELING DOWN like it was my damn dog), but the Episcopal priest, the bride's father, and the wedding planner all looked sincerely uncomfortable. Maybe if this had been a casual beach wedding, it would have been unremarkable, but as it was. . . just a no.

2) Matt and I went to a wedding where the officiant read the entire text of "The Velveteen Rabbit" to the assembled guests, and to the bride and groom, before the vows. The entire thing.

3) I and several members of my family were present at a wedding where, when the minister said, "You may now kiss the bride," the groom leaned over and slapped the bride on the ass, hard and LOUD. I can offer no brief commentary, because I am still dead from the shock and embarrassment. Also, the groom was wearing white jeans with his white dinner jacket. 'Cause it was a fancy occasion.

Okay, you go. Spill!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jelly Wars

As someone who is concerned with both healthy-ish eating and frugal grocery shopping, I admit this whole jelly situation has me stumped. I would like to buy jelly or jam with no high fructose corn syrup. Not so much because I think that stuff is actual poison, but because, lord, HFCS is everywhere, and can't we just eat something sweet, like jelly, that's made with sugar? Okay. So recently I scored 20 jars of Skippy Natural peanut butter for about 45 cents a jar, instead of the $2.49 it usually costs, due to hitting it while it was buy-one-get-one at Publix, and having 20 coupons for it. Bren tipped me off and I landed on it with both feet. Great, but these people who live here, they love their PB&J's, and now jelly supply is not keeping up with jelly demand. And there don't seem to be very many good sales for jelly, and we're faced with a growing jelly gap. Yes, a jelly gap, and I'm throwing every trick I got at it, but I need your help. This handy diagram sums up the jelly sitch:

What the heck is the jelly/jam product, and where is it, that is bargain-ish, HFCS-free, and tasty? What are y'all buying? For a while, I was getting those Polaner jellies, because they seem to go on sale, and they have a low-sugar version that is HFCS-free, and a sugar-free version with Splenda. Hank and Laura will eat it. But when Matt got ready to make himself a sandwich, he acted like I'd handed him a jar of live bees. The texture just isn't agreeable to his inner child. You never know what that guy is going to be particular about. I am not choosing this battle with him, or with his inner child. The other day I was heading to Publix, and he said, "Please get a jar of strawberry jelly and don't get that weird stuff." So I got there and spent twenty minutes perusing the jelly options. Twelve Publix employees greeted me and offered their assistance during what was obviously a difficult time, but I just needed to read every single jar. It ended with me buying a SMALL jar of Organic Smuckers for $3.49. OMG. Once you start down the couponing path, $3.49 seems like a lot to pay for jelly. But I guess it's cheaper than marriage counseling. Still, for that price, I want to recline on a couch like the ancient Romans, and eat it smeared on a whole nightingale.

I usually shop at Publix and SuperTarget, but I'm willing to drive down to Trader Joes and stock up if y'all know of anything there. And I know buying a pressure cooker and making my own jelly would be a delicious option, but I would probably explode myself, so any thoughts you guys have would be appreciated. This is what's on my mind tonight. I hope y'all had a great weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Á Propos of Nothing

Matt and the kids just took off for Chattanooga. They'll be gone until Sunday, and I'll get some work time. Ever since I made a pact with Jane, I've been in writing crunch mode. So things will be kind of quiet around Suburban Matron for a few days. But I offer you this:

This morning I was getting dressed, and Hank said, "Is that your new bra?"

(The kid won't be three until next month, but it's like, he notices things.)

I said, "Yes, it is a new bra."

He said, "Is it a talking bra?" And in a funny voice, he said, "Halloooo! I'm a talking braaaaa!"

He looked at me expectantly. I wanted to play along but I couldn't think of what you say to a talking bra.

By way of helping me out, he elaborated, "Halloo! I am a HAUNTED talking bra!"

So I squealed and covered my face, and that seemed to be the response he was looking for.

Y'all have a great haunted-talking-bra weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Will You Be Super-Soaking?

Aloha my friends. Tomorrow is the last day of school for us, and like we've done the last two years, the moms at the bus stop will spray the kids with water guns when they get off the bus. This is really Normal Neighbor's tradition, but she enlisted me in it when we moved here. We hide behind her giant Suburban and ambush them. I don't know if the kids are really surprised by the prank at this point, but it is fun. Last year we told the German au pair who lived around the corner about it, and she showed up with this ginormous water bazooka. Seriously, it looked like it needed to be mounted in the back of a pickup truck. When I saw that thing, I was like, "Oh crap." Total overkill. I had water in my shoes. Do you guys have any end-of-school traditions or fun things? I would love to do something else to mark the occasion, but I am short on ideas.

Update: it rained today, and squirting kids who are walking through the rain just seems mean! But we did it anyway. We drove up to the bus stop and I let Hank ride shotgun. Then when Laura and her friend got up to the van, I said, "Hank, now!" and he popped through the window and started shooting his little gun. So funny!

Today was the class luau, and it went swimmingly. The food was simple and tasty, and the decorations were great. We could have done way less, but the kids thought it was really special. Jan completely outdid herself. I am going to give her a Target gift card that I've been keeping for some occasion. Familiarity breeds fondness, in this case, because I have come to appreciate her eccentricities and her bubbly personality. That chick worked her ass off at this room mom gig, whereas I mostly thought of stuff and wrote emails.

So this morning I was loading the car to set off to help with the party. Hula hoop, check. Treat bags, check. CD player for luau tunes, check. I needed to get batteries for the CD player, so I hopped in and away I went. On the way to CVS to get batteries, I thought, "I'll get some good pictures for my blog." And then I thought, "Where is my camera?? Wah!" I started groping around in the passenger seat with my hand. I had left it at home, which is no biggie, but for some reason it stressed me out enough that I started to sweat, or you know how you don't really sweat, but your body temperature goes up a little? Like, preparatory to sweating? I could only tell because my eyebrows made my sunglasses fog up. Lovely. Does this happen to you?

I don't know why the camera seemed so dang important at that moment. And then I got worried that the sweat would make my mascara run. Rewind: Earlier this morning I was standing at the bathroom mirror putting on makeup. I have this fancy Shu Uemura mascara that builds and builds on itself. Like, it cost thirty dollars and you could probably make furniture out of it. So I got distracted talking to Matt and just kept putting it on. I had already curled my eyelashes (that's my new thing--love it!), so the effect was, well, striking. Think Elvira. In a muu-muu. I thought I should dress for the occasion, so I wore this long, somewhat shapeless, white maxi dress. So, muu-muu, check. Shu Uemura, check. Dewy eyebrows, check. Let's party.

If you're doing a luau thing--hi Googlers!--here's what worked and didn't work. I thought the food was very kid friendly, and pretty. I did manage to get a few pics with my iPhone. This is the table all set up with the cabana thingie that Jan got at Party City.

Cabana Table

The food was not fancy, but presentation is everything. Don't worry, I told the mom who brought chex mix in plain plastic bowls that she needs to up her game. Kidding! Don't believe my detractors. Anyway. . .

Luau Kid Food

The kids loved the fruit kabobs. Easy and pretty. I wouldn't have thought to leave the leaves on the strawberries, but it made them more decorative.

Fruit Kabobs

Now, you know what wasn't worth the time? The slushie machine. Jan brought an ice crusher and put popsicles in it to make little snowcones. Yummy, but it was another thing that the kids had to line up to get, separate from their snacks, and it just took up time that they could have been playing. Next time, I would just have punch. And use the slushy machine for frozen margaritas for the moms.

End-of-School Party

That's a happy partier. Laura won her round of the hula hoop contest, so everything's groovy in her world. The kids also coconut-bowled, knocking over pineapples. The winners got to pick a prize out of a big tub, and this time only one kid, and no parents, complained about the prizes. One boy picked a big foil-wrapped chocolate that looked like a baseball, and it turned out to be a Baby Ruth. After all the games were over and the prizes were gone, he said, really irritated, "But I don't like Baby Ruths!" I said, "Then don't eat it." Aren't I the sweetest room mom ever? Mahallo! Then I offered him a squirt gun that was shaped like a frog, which he turned down.

I hope you guys are enjoying the last days of school. If I think about how time is passing, I get a little verklempt. But hey, I'm not a room mom anymore! That was one of those "glad to do it, and glad it's over" situations. Like a lot of things in life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How Jon Bon Jovi Spends One Hundred Percent of His Time

Because sometimes my Random Thoughts take the form of charts and graphs. Don't yours?


Check over at Keely's for more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Maybe Don't Ask Her to Watch Your Kids

Ooh, I forgot to tell y'all this the other day. One afternoon the doorbell rang, and it was Rebel Yelling Mom's little girl J. She is in kindergarten, and she had two older girls with her. I didn't recognize them, but one was maybe ten, and the other was seven-ish. J asked if Laura could play, and I said that she was finishing her homework, but would be outside in a few minutes. They went away.

A little while later, Laura got up from the table and said, "J and some girls are in our backyard, can I go out there with them?" I said sure. I wasn't surprised that they had made their way around back--we have a couple of hammocks, a sandbox, a zipline, and some woods back there--it's nothing fancy, but it's one of the few yards that isn't a steep hill, and kids seem to wind up in it. I figured J's mom had told her she could go play in the cul-de-sac, and this was close enough. Laura went out back and Hank followed her, so I went and sat on the back porch to keep an eye on him. I asked J, "Who are your friends?" And she said, "They're my friends," and then she mumbled their names. So the five of them played while I sat there drinking coffee and looking at the trees.

I heard the doorbell ring, and when I got to the door, nobody was there, but I saw Danica's--Rebel Yelling Mom's--car in the driveway. I went back out to the porch, and there was Danica yelling at J, "I have been looking all over for you? You didn't tell me you were leaving!" So she was understandably annoyed. She looked at me. "Where is Tyler?" she asked. I said, "Who?" And she turned to her daughter, "WHERE IS TYLER?" J and the other girls said, "I don't know." Oh my lord, then she REALLY started screaming, "THEN WE'VE LOST HIM AND HE CAN'T BE ALONE, AND HE COULD BE DOWN THERE ON THE ROAD HIT BY A CAR!" Danica gestured at the two girls I didn't know, and she said, "Tyler's their brother, he's 8, and he has Down Syndrome." To the bigger girl, she said, "YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO STAY WITH HIM." So then I started to have that panic feeling--you know the one--that you feel when your child is lost. Danica was yelling at the girls to GET YOUR BUTTS IN THE CAR, WE HAVE TO GO LOOK FOR HIM.

They head off back around the house to the driveway, and my kids are standing there in total shock, I think from the yelling. I said, "Come on, let's get our shoes and go help them look." So both kids and I started walking towards Danica's house. I thought we would just look all around their yard and the yards in between--I didn't know. We got out into the street, and here comes a big SUV, driven by a woman I recognized as Danica's friend. Then I remembered, Danica is very close with another mom who has a Downs child (like Danica does), and they are always visiting each other. It dawned on me that this mom--I've met her but I can't remember her name--had left her three kids at Danica's for her to babysit. Oh dear, I thought. So we get to Danica's driveway a minute after this mom rolls up, and she's apparently been told what's happened, and she is shrieking at her ten year-old daughter. I had thought that Danica was yelling, but this woman was holding nothing back. I have never heard another parent lose control like that. Right then Danica came out of her front door leading a little boy by the hand. She said, "He was upstairs hiding under the bed." So, relief all around. Other mom kept yelling. Danica saw me and started yelling, "I'm sorry I was freaking out!" And I said, "I understand! I should have asked the girls if you knew where they were." Then we kept calling out apologies to each other while the kids and I backed away from the place.

The lasting fallout from that scene was that Hank was TOTALLY rattled by it. After we got back home, he sidled up to me and said, "Wh-wh-why was that mama mad?" I explained that she couldn't find her kids, and that when mamas and daddies can't find their kids they get very scared and upset, etc. He thought she was mad at him. Because as far as he knew, everyone had been having a wonderful time in the backyard, and then this mama appeared and started yelling. So I reassured him that he hadn't done anything wrong and he wasn't in trouble. We repeated this conversation for about half an hour, but he could just not compute that kind of emotional intensity coming from a mama.

I know both of those moms were feeling desperately afraid--even writing this, I can feel a little of that panic--but the one time I couldn't find Hank (he thought it would be a fun game to hide in the backyard, back in the underbrush, and not answer when I called him), I sure didn't waste time yelling at Laura, and it's not like it was her responsibility to watch him, even if I had said, "Keep an eye on Hank for a second." I felt like that mom should have been a little angry at her friend, Danica, who lost track of four kids at the same time, one of them a special needs child. I hate to sound this judgmental, because we all have bad parenting moments--see above where I lost Hank in our own yard--but the whole event was so very scary, and the stakes couldn't be higher. I don't have any tidy narrative closure for you, but I like to keep you up-to-date on any drama in the 'hood. And I know that anyone who has kids knows that terrible feeling.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Last Day for Thirty-Percent off Gymboree

Dudes, until tonight at midnight Eastern time, you can take 30% off of your Gymboree order by entering the code CFCIRCLE or CFFRIEND during the online checkout. If you're into it.

They have a sale right now for $7.99 tops and shorts for girls, boys, and babies, good summer staples. Another 30% off that brings it in line with discount store prices. That sale is the only thing that would entice me to shop. Laura has aged out of Gymbo for the most part. The sizes still fit her, but the styling in the kid girl line is just for younger chillun, I think. Don't get me wrong, her wardrobe is still 99% Gymboree because I was riding the Gymbo train for so long, and I bought ahead. But I've stopped buying it new.

And Hank? Poor Hank. I think he goes out into the yard and clothes himself in oak leaves and bluejay feathers. Whatever he can find. I don't really pay attention to his wardrobe. Born on the Summer Solstice, he is a child of the moon.

I meant to tell y'all about the discount codes earlier, but I forgot. So, yes, Gymboree, sale, last day, summer togs. . .that's all I got.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Price of Disorganization

Last night Matt and I decided that it was time to tackle the mountain of undifferentiated laundry that had gone to our bedroom to die. Or, he decided it was time, and I would have felt ashamed if I didn't go along. We have a major problem with laundry. Every member of the family has too much clothing, despite the fact that I feel like we personally keep the Goodwill stocked with hand-me-downs. And while I'm fine with the washing, the drying, and even with the folding, I suck at the putting-away. The typical scenario is, there will be a load of clean clothes downstairs, waiting for me to fold it, and then when someone is coming over, I say, "Matt, quick, take those upstairs to our room!" And there it will sit, awaiting, I suppose, the sounding of the final trumpet, when all unsorted clothing shall rise up and fly into its proper drawer.

So last night we went up there and got cray-zay on the laundry situation, sorting and folding and cleaning the bathroom. Then Matt vacuumed the carpet, even moving the bed to vacuum under the bed. (Like, whoa, that's a little too tidy.) In that pile of laundry, we found $36 in loose bills. And Matt's wallet. Which had been missing for three days.

When we were finished, Matt brought up a pitcher of cosmos, and we reclined on the bed so we could bask in the fruits of our labors, as he put it. I was beat. But we soaked in the sight of our clean bedroom like it was Lake Como. The $36, and not having to cancel credit cards and go to the DMV, that was just a bonus.

I don't know a lot about feng shui or any of that stuff, but really I think there's something to the way a cluttered room, anywhere in your house, can kind of mess with your head. Do you feel that? But now the laundry is put away, and my chi is flowing, I guess. Here's hoping we keep it that way. Have a happy Friday, and I hope your chakras are wide open.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Room Mom's Last Gasp

Every time I think I am so ready to be done with room momming and with my co-room mom's moodiness, she says something to me that makes me like her again. Yesterday I went up to the school to see the kids do a little play (which I must say was cute even though it was terrible, terrible theatre) and I sat down next to Jan. She said, "I haven't been able to call you back because I dropped my phone in the dog's water bowl for the second time." And I felt my heart open up and incline towards her, like a tulip towards a sunny window. She just makes me laugh sometimes.

And then sometimes she has me wincing on her behalf. We had a meeting later in the afternoon, at her house, to finalize details for the class end-of-the-year party, which, like thousands or even millions of similar parties across the country in the next two weeks, will be luau-themed. Why innovate? Kids love: 1) fruit kabobs; 2) the limbo; 3) wearing crazy hats. Hopefully they also love coconut bowling. More about that in a moment.

So Jan is showing me the decorations she's gotten, and she also had a ton of baseball-themed stuff, trophies, etc. She told me that she's the team mom for her daughter's baseball team, and that the coach had asked her to get all the trophies and that he would reimburse her, so she went and spent a couple hundred dollars on that stuff, and told him how much it was, and he never got back to her. She said, "I mean, I am so in debt and I spent hundreds of dollars on this!" And I was like, you need to get the money from him, you need to "remind" him, etc. But she kept saying, "I just can't ask him again," and "I'm not good with confrontation," and "I'll just let it go." It was making me feel terrible. Seriously, girl, could we get some assertiveness training over here?

She was in charge of getting decorations for the luau, and she went WAY overboard, and wound up spending a lot of her own money, 'cause our class money is pretty much exhausted by this point. Apparently there was a sale at Party City, and she bought a big cabana-type table thing, and huge palm trees, and a tiki-mask bubble machine, and I think the mummified corpse of Don Ho, may he rest in peace. And of course leis, and coconut cups, and grass skirts, and puka shell necklaces for party favors.

Her idea was, after the party, to box all this up and give it to the teacher as part of the class gift. Every year Ms. S has a luau party, and every year the class buys decorations, so Jan thought it would be a nice thing to bequeath. Fine. So I kept saying, "If this is the class gift, did you spend class money on it?" And she never gave me a straight answer, and after the baseball coach story I felt like now I was a party to taking advantage of her. But the woman needs boundaries and quick.

One more party and then I'm hanging up my room mom hat. I am sure everything will go smoothly and the kids will enjoy themselves. Hopefully there will be no repeat of the "This toy is too girly" fiasco of Xmas '08. If anyone steps out of line, I am prepared to knock her on the coconut.

Are y'all doing this end-of-the-year party business, and how many of your kids' classes are having luaus? It's a luaupalooza!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wedding Party Favors: Just a Northern Thing?

Matt's older brother Chris is going to be married this fall to a great girl from Providence, RI. I am sure you'll be hearing much more about this in the coming months, but in short, Robin is pretty, down-to-earth, accomplished, has a big career, is a mom, and is in the National Guard to boot. Yes, I'm thinking of having her take over my life for me.

So we've been email chatting about arrangements for their wedding, which will be in Boston at a historic building on the harbor. She writes:

Question for you. I was talking to Chris about party favors – little giveaways for the guests – and he says he thinks it is a northern thing – that he has never seen party favors at a Southern wedding. Is that true? Normally it is tradition to put something at each seat like a little candle or jordan almonds, etc. Chris thinks I am nuts.

Now, normally, my money would be on Matt or his brothers just not noticing such a detail, everytime. But in this case, I wrote back that I think he's right. We don't do that down here. Sometimes, rarely, I have seen little boxes of cake stacked on a table for guests to take home at the end of the reception. But not often, and nothing more than that.

I think this could be because actual sit-down meals at weddings are much less common in the South than in the North, and it sounds like the party favor is associated with a place setting at the table. We tend to have these afternoon weddings where people aren't expecting to be fed a full meal afterwards. My wedding was at 2:00, with what they called "heavy hors d'oevre," which is pretty standard around these parts. If your wedding is at noon in the South, it either means that it will be very formal, or that you're Catholic and it's a mass. 4:00 is also a popular time, but then you start to see more buffet food at the reception. However, I think my sister's wedding was later in the afternoon (Amy?), but her reception was still of the hors d'oevre-and-mingle kind. Possibly because there was only standing room because she has always been so freaking popular. But I digress.

Robin was thinking of having little cards next to each plate that told the guests the bride and groom had made a donation to a charity in their honor, but that her sister said people "expect stuff." So I asked Robin, "Would you still expect to see party favors at a wedding that had a cocktail or tea reception instead of a sit-down meal?" She said she didn't think so, but that she had never been to a wedding that wasn't a formal sit-down dinner or a seated buffet. This is so interesting to me! It really is like a totally different set of regional wedding traditions. Whenever I have been to a big nighttime wedding with a dinner and a full bar, it has always been up North. So what has your experience been? Are you reading this thinking, "Oh, totally party favors! It's required." Or are you, like, "What?"

On the interwebs I found this fun article about regional differences in expectations and etiquette for weddings, "A Look Behind the Veil at Southern Weddings." Some of the most interesting points are:
  • Brides in the South have a ton of bridesmaids. Duh, I knew that. I think the most I have ever personally witnessed was nine. Anybody seen more than that? Or anybody seen a non-Southern wedding like that?
  • Weddings in the South tend to do hors d'oevre or buffet because they have huge guest lists. Hmmm. I don't know, I've been to some pretty big weddings up North that had full meals. I think it might be a deeper cultural thing.
  • It gives the same reason--hundreds and hundreds of guests--that Southern brides don't do party favors. Hmmm again. I've been to medium and small weddings down here, with no favors in sight.
  • Flowers are a huge big deal for Southern weddings. True. But what bride anywhere doesn't love flowers?
  • Southerners are notorious for not RSVP'ing. I think this is probably true.
  • In the North, one or two bridal showers is standard. In the South, expect "months worth of luncheons, tea parties and get-togethers." Interesting. I had four showers or bridal events--a tea party, a luncheon, and two more conventional showers, variously hosted by friends of Matt's mom or of my mom. I didn't think that was a lot, because plenty of people have many more.
  • "Couples who get married in the South also have to prepare for kids at their wedding even if they weren't invited. Southern guests have a bad habit of bringing their children to weddings regardless of whether they were listed on the invitation." Ha! This is totally true! People just assume that their kids are meant to come, and that there will be other kids there.
  • In the North, it is not uncommon for sisters and mothers of the bride to host bridal showers, "here in the South that is taboo." Wow, I learned something. I thought the rule of no sisters and moms hosting showers was just the way it is done, I didn't know it was regional. I thought it was a universal law, like gravity.
Now, the whole subject of the West is interesting. I think they do their own thing on the west coast. What do you say, West Coasters? Maybe in weddings, like in so much else, they combine traditions from all over. I think California and the West in general has a greater influence over the national culture as the years go by, and maybe this will have a homogenizing effect on wedding culture? And the Midwest? I have no idea. What do you think? Do these regionalisms seem significant in your experience? I think they still are, to an extent.

Anyhoo, please weigh in. This topic is like catnip to me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Not To Be Judgmental

But if it is 10:45 Friday night, and you're taking a 15 month-old into a movie theatre, maybe don't do that.

Also. . .

Please either skate at the skating rink, or compose a long text message on your iPhone. Please do not both skate and compose a long text message at the same time.

If I had the power to issue citations, these are tickets I would have given out recently. In the interest of public wellbeing and safety.

Have a great weekend and let's be careful out there.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Orla Kiely for Target RESTOCK

Back a couple of months ago, when I was blogging about the Orla Kiely for Target collection with every third breath, I got an email from Target Heaven, or from their PR firm, which is probably right next to Target Heaven. A very nice lady offered me details on dates and which products were rolling out when. So the other day I had a hunch, or heard somewhere, that there would be one more restock of the dishes and kitchen things, and I emailed her back for more info. She says, "We have heard that there should be some additional stock of the decorative home and dishware in stores next week." I urged her to call me on the red phone if any other intel emerges.

So there you have it. If you haven't gotten your fill, maybe check it out next week. I am hoping that this means that an online order I placed back in freaking February may soon be fulfilled. They keep emailing me asking for my "approval" to keep the order open longer. Grummph. This was a wedding gift, and the bride is now an old married lady. (Kidding, V!)

Some folks still have the dishes in their stores anyway. Cassie picked up some adorable mugs this week. Two of the ones she found are back ordered for me. My store still has the floor mats and the chair cushions, surprisingly. A couple of months ago, a set of 4 of those was selling for $100 on eBay, even thought they're only $14.95 apiece retail. I might go back in for some of the orange flower pattern, which I only got a tray in the first time around, and which has really grown on me.

I offer you this info, make of it what you will. I assure you that I am not obsessed and have many other things in my life maybe. xoxoxo--B

Thursday, May 7, 2009

You Know You Wanna Rock This Look

I've got bathing suits on the brain this week, it seems. As we've been discussing, swimwear for women has somehow become deadly serious. Like, serious performance fabrics and major architecture is expected--does it cover enough/too much? Is it flattering? Grannyish? As Sara said, does it pinch your cellulite in the wrong place?

I got to thinking though, when you find a suit you like, you always remember it. A good suit just makes the summer more awesome. Do you have bathing suits that you look back on and think, "Yeah! That was a great one!" Maybe it's the suit itself, maybe it's how you looked then, maybe it's what you did while wearing it. I can think of a few, from different ages/life stages. If I can dig up enough old pictures, I'll share them in the coming weeks. Here's maybe my most favorite of all. I wish swimsuits for grown up ladies could be this lighthearted.

Nautical Flashback

Okay, why wouldn't this work for us now? I think that with some gold hoop earrings and a straw hat, this would be perfect, total chic. Nautical is never, never out of style. And just fun. Can't you see it? Surely Boden would make this if we email them enough. I will await their call.

In the meantime, I'm submitting this to Bex's up and coming meme, Funky Foto Flashback. Get in on the groundfloor on this one, it's the next Random Tuesday Thoughts! I promise.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Numerous Updates

*Now even MORE updated. See below.

1) Hank pooped in the potty again. Oh boy howdy did he ever. So I am feeling a glimmer of hope that he may one day have full toilet capabilities. And maybe I will stop typing the word "poop" so much.

2) The neighbors and our warming planet: hmmm, yeah, in the comments on the last post, Keely wondered whether they just weren't articulating their point, because as she says, all global weather is getting totally weird. Colder winters, hotter summers, mondo killer hurricanes, plagues of toads. I don't think their understanding of the issue is that nuanced, because I left out the part where they went on to bash Al Gore. I mean, really? Bashing Al Gore? The time to do that, if you were inclined to, was back in 2007 (?) when he won the Nobel Prize and the Emmy and the Oscar and the Grammy and the Tony. And also I think there was a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval at some point. Bashing him now just makes you seem out of date. (As well as totally DAFT.) Al Gore is in my personal Wonk Hotty Pantheon, too, and any affection I ever had for John Edwards has been transferred right back to Gore. But oh goodness, that is a whole 'nother post.

3) The search for the Goldilocks of swimsuits: Maybe it's that I'm moving, every year, more into the target market for Lands End, but I did really like their swimwear this year. In the previous post's comments, Veronica suggested looking to them for some coordinating but more flattering bottoms. So I did, but they don't seem to make anything but those Barbara Bush leg openings (thanks Lawyer Mom!), or ones that are even more modest. Like, think Queen Elizabeth. They come with little gloves. The one honest-to-god pair of bikini bottoms they had were totally wrong for the tankini I got. But I did what every magazine is telling us to do and "shopped my own closet," and I think an old pair of J Crew bottoms I have, in a bright blue, will work.

I laughed when I got that tankini, because my sister and I used to joke at the catalogue descriptions of Lands End bathing suits. In addition to the suits for specific body shapes (Are you a triangle? A rectangle? A starfish??), the copy promises that they'll all "fool the eye," or "bring the eye up to your face," or "keep the eye moving so nobody will see the junk in your trunk!" Have you ever noticed that? Pick up the catalogue and you'll see what I mean. And I think this tankini was designed to do the same. The paisley pattern confuses the eye so much, you can't tell if I'm fat or thin, far or near, or whether I'm even in the same dimensional plane. You might not even be able to see me, or I might look like something else, like a mailbox, or a fern. It's that good.

4) Laura and the teaser: Sigh. Today she said that the teasing was still going on, but was less, even though the kid now has an accomplice--another little boy who Laura says "thinks Michael is funny." She said her teacher had forgotten to deal with it today, and Laura didn't bring it up again until the end of the day. I asked her why she waited until dismissal, and she said she just didn't have a chance to speak to Ms. S privately until then. And she told me, "Last night I prayed to God that Michael would forget about teasing me." Yet it is kind of hard to tell how much it really bothers her. She acts so composed, always, and she really is a buoyant kid, no matter what is going on. She's like me. I am going to wait one more day to give Ms. S a chance to speak to Laura and the other child, and if it falls through the cracks, I'm going to send a nice email and say, "Hey, here's what I'm hearing at home--what's your classroom impression of the situation?" to jog her memory. I don't think such an email would make me the nightmare parent.

Hope y'all are having a good evening! I need to get out to the sunroom and see tonight's "Lost," but Matt is wrapped around our 46" TV watching the Celtics playoff game. I wish you could hear him hoot and squeal. Take my word for it, internets, it is really something.

* So Laura came home today, Thursday, and said she thought that her teacher had spoken to Michael first thing in the morning, before Laura was there. Ms. S also moved Laura to another table (she had been sitting near Michael all day long). Laura said Michael didn't tease her today, "and didn't tease any girls at all, period," and she spent the day happily surrounded by her girl posse. So I don't need to go up there and open up a can, I guess. Thanks, y'all, for the sympathy and for sharing your stories.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Numerous Issues

1) Well, I was beginning to wonder if that Praisallujah was premature. After Hank did us the favor of doing a poop in the potty, he did not repeat that performance for TWO WEEKS. He basically began stalling and withholding, then sneaking a poop when I had to put a diaper on him. This was in spite of the sticker chart, candy bribes, and lots of serious exhortation on the benefits of potty-use and the distastefulness of big boys pooping in diapers. I mean, you know how people say, "Oh ho! There aren't many kindergartners in diapers!" I thought, "Well world, meet Hank." It was clear that he had a serious reluctance to do it. And I had started to back off. Then yesterday, we knew he had to go, and Matt told him in no uncertain terms to go use the potty. And he did. It seems that he only listens to his daddy about this. So I hope we are turning a corner, but I am by no means confident.

2) We finally met some new neighbors that have moved in up the street. Gene and Jean, an older couple. They both have white hair, but they're somewhere south of sixty. Matt saw them outside and walked over to introduce himself, and the kids/dog trailed after him, so I went outside and followed to complete the set. They seem friendly, and I am sure they will be good neighbors. The only notable moment in our initial encounter was the revelation that they don't believe global warming is real. I was blabbing about the weather and about my personal heating and cooling challenges, and Jean said, "Well you know what's really happening with this global warming is that actually the world is getting colder." I said, "It is???" And she said, "Yep, we had a cold winter here." I said, "Yes, it was chilly. In winter."

Again, this doesn't make them bad neighbors, by any means. But I feel as though they placed the Neighbor Sorting Hat on their heads, and the Sorting Hat said, "Hmmm, harmless BUT DAFT!" Matt, always the nicer one, later said, "Well, you know, they're old." I'm like, is the fact of global warming a generational thing? Like being against gay marriage, or typing emails in all caps?

3) The other day I bought this bathing suit from Lands End. It is actually three pieces--a tankini and a skirt. I was looking for something with a matching cover-up, in case I wanted to keep the package wrapped.

It is cute, but when the skirt comes off, the bottoms are kind of too modest to be flattering. It's the low leg opening thing all over again. I want to be able to wear the little skirt when I'm chasing Hank around the pool, but I don't want to look like Grandma Moses when I take it off. So I need some bottoms that are a little more revealing. I went to Old Navy and bought some in a solid color that I thought would match, but when I tried them on at home, they were too revealing. Like, misdemeanor revealing. So I need some bikini bottoms that are not too modest and not too immodest. Yes, my ass is like Goldilocks.

4) Yesterday Laura got off the school bus, and I could tell she was troubled. She was wearing her monogram necklace with a letter 'L' on it. She said that the class had been practicing their lines for a play, while the teacher was out of the room. And every time she started to say a line, a little boy named Michael would yell, "L is for LOSER!" She said, "By the end my face was as red as an apple."

I opened my mouth to share the age-old wisdom that he was just trying to get her attention and didn't know how to do it, just ignore him, boys will be boys, and then I thought, what are we telling our daughters when we say that? Like, "Oh, so he's harassing me because he likes me. So I feel less harassed now?" Where does that thinking lead? I think it says: Males act, and then it's up to the female to react and manage his actions. That's junk, and I'm never going to say that again. So I told her to tell him, "Michael, you're acting like a doofus, and nobody thinks you're funny. If you don't shut your mouth, I'll tell the teacher." She considered this and then said, "Mom, don't you think that's a little rude?" Sigh.

Update: today she got off the bus and told me that he'd kept up his teasing all day, and that she'd finally worked up her nerve to tell her teacher. She said, "I used your word, I said 'Michael is harassing me.'" And her teacher said they'd talk to him tomorrow. She said her teacher asked her, "Did this start today?" And Laura said, "No, I waited a day to see if I could handle it myself." For some reason, she was very, very reluctant to even bring it up with her teacher. Like she is embarrassed by it, and doesn't want to tattle. Being a kid is hard.

That is what we've got brewing today. I will be linking to Keely's Random Tuesday Thoughts now, because I haven't exactly painted you a beautiful picture of the totality of life here, ya know? How are y'all?


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Now More Bustier!

This afternoon I found myself near the mall, with no children in tow. I never go to the mall--the last time was December. I phoned Matt and said, "I'm just going to pop into the mall and get some shorts." He said, "Great, see you later." He and Hank had just dropped Laura off at a skating party. I assured him that I would be able to pick her up, as that time was three hours hence. So in I went, and I did not dawdle.

By the entrance was a big, new H&M. Or new to me. I strode in purposefully just to lay eyes on the place. Now, I have been in H&M's before when I am sure they had cute things. But this time the stuff in there looked like the feral offspring of American Apparel and Zara, if that blessed union took place at a summer camp run by Mad Max. Terrible. Colors you have never seen before. Cuts that are surely meant to be insulting. Where was the cute? Just depressing, and poorly lit in there. Like when they turn on the lights in a bar at 2am. I even tried some things on, and determined that it all needed to go straight into the garbage. Oh, but I did buy a necklace! So not a total waste of time.

I left H&M and tried to orient myself. I realized that to get to the bathroom, I would have to run the gauntlet of the nail and hair product kiosks, with their carnival barkers. "Hi Ma'am, can I massage your cuticles?" Ugh. But by ducking straight into the Gap, and swashbuckling through Gap, Gap Body, Gap Kids, and BabyGap, which are all connected, I could exit right across from the restrooms and avoid the hawkers. So I did, still striding purposefully.

When I came out I readied myself to traverse the Gaps again. I walked into BabyGap, and right into a trap. Adorable toddler tees. On sale. Okay, so I assessed the situation and picked out an apatosaurus tee, a "Hotdog!" tee, a swordfish tee, and some Hawaiian print trunks ($6.99!) for Hank. Then I successfully charged through Gap Kids without stopping, because seriously, Laura has clothes in her closet with tags on them. And I had a schedule to keep. I couldn't just lose myself in retail.

But when I rounded the corner into Gap Body, it smelled really good in there. I slowed down to sniff the air. And look at the panties, laid out so pretty! Then it dawned on me that a new bra could be the Key to Everything. I am a grown up lady, and skilled in many areas. But my knowledge of brassieres is remedial. I've been buying the same kind for years, even though they do nothing in particular for me. Since, in that department, I've never been well-endowed by my creator with certain, um, inalienable rights, I haven't paid much attention to bra world. But I knew that Gap Body sold the little unstructured triangles of stretchy fabric that I regard as bras. So I started looking. Along the way, a kind of fancy "zero visibility" bra, designed for low-cut shirts, caught my eye. I am all about the low-cut shirts--it's one of the benefits of having no boobs to speak of.

So I grabbed a 36A, which I think of as my size, and went to try it on. It made me look like a mutant. Not good. The helpful salesgirl was hovering, and I said, "Do you have a 38A? Though that can't be right!" The girl said, "Have you tried a 36B?" I said, "No, because a B cup is for people who have boobs. I just have what you see here." She said, "Yeah, can I measure you?" I said, "Knock yourself out." So she did, and she said, "Yeah, you're a 36B, or really a 35, but try the 36B." Then she brought me two bras that I NEVER would have tried on. Because they had molded, shaped cups that were actually shaped like boobs instead of little triangles. I don't buy bras like that. They don't exist in my world. One was the Lightly Lined Lacy T-shirt Bra, and the other was the Ultra Push-Up Bra. Ultra push-up! I do declare. Going from zero push-up to "ultra" push-up was a shock to my system. Settle down girls!

Well darned if she wasn't right. The B cup looked much better. Everything in that, um, region just suddenly made sense. And I lurrrved the push up bra. I realized that I was a walking Oprah show cliché. Remember the show(s) about how most women are wearing the wrong bra size? I never thought it would be me, until it was. Ladies, are you wearing the right size? I mean, congratulations are in order! I woke up an A cup this morning, and I'm going to bed a B cup. So I bought those bras, feeling, by that time, seriously refreshed and recharged by retail therapy.

Then I looked at the clock. Errmm, picking up my child was starting to seem less convenient, because I needed to get her in half an hour, and I still hadn't made it back into the big Gap to look at shorts. All the childfree browsing time had turned my poor head around. So I phoned Matt. I said, "Are you at home?" He said no, and he explained that since we'd last spoken, he'd dropped Laura off at the skating party, taken Hank to lunch and then to throw rocks into Lake Lanier, and had then sat in the car for an hour while Hank napped. I said, "Tell me the best way to get from here to pick up Laura," and he said, "Would you like for me to go get her?" I said, "Yes" and "I marry you" three times just like Nicole Kidman does in Cold Mountain.

So I was free to scope out the Gap, looking for shorts and capris to renew my summer uniform. First of all, omg a pair of cut-off denim shorts costs $49 in the Gap now. Second of all, everything in the Gap is much cuter now than it used to be. For the last couple of years, maybe since Patrick Robinson came on board as the designer there, it is way less sad in that place. I remember when all their clothes looked like what we'd be wearing after the apocalypse. But no more. So I found a blue pair and a white pair of shorts, and got two tops, and then lit out for home feeling completely sated.

That took three hours. I got home and had time to clean up and watch an episode of The Real Housewives of New York City before the rain sent Matt and the kids home from the park. Because he picked up Laura and then took them both to the park to ride bikes. Because he is that awesome. And in exchange for his awesome kid-tending abilities, he gets a bustier wife!

So I have now edged that much closer to Suburban Matron becoming a shopping blog. Maybe spring does this to me. How 'bout you? What's on your shopping list these days?

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Fun in Dysfunction

Okay, if you haven't read my post, 13 Bits of Info about My Mystery Neighbors, maybe peruse it for a moment. We'll wait right here. It contains important background intel about the Mystery Folk, who lately keep coming up in cul-de-sac conversation.

Last week, one glorious afternoon, Hank and I were out in the street flying a kite. It was a Dora kite, and as I struggled to get it up in the air and stable, I found myself yelling, "Go Dora go! Fly, Dora!" completely unselfconsciously. And Hank was chanting right along with me. We got her going and flew her for a nice long time.


While out there, I knew I was a sitting duck for any craziness the neighborhood wanted to throw my way. And sure enough, Conspiracy Guy ambled down his driveway to speak to me. "Do you know those people up there?" he asked, gesturing toward the Mystery People's house. "No," I said, figuring that saying "no" was easier than explaining how I'd tried to engage the wife in conversation a couple of times but had found her completely uncommunicative, and had now written them off and instructed Laura to avoid their house like it was Chernobyl.

Conspiracy Guy said that his little girls--who are five and three, and who are at my house so much that I call them the Foster Children, but that's another post--went up to play with one of the Mystery daughters. That's odd in itself, because the youngest Mystery daughter is 8, but she is always looking for playmates and I guess the age difference doesn't matter to her. And odd that he let them go, but then he doesn't really know where his kids are a lot of the time. (That came out sounding bitchier than I meant it to.) Anyway, so CG said that when his little girls came home, they said that Mystery daughter's stepdad had said that Mystery daughter is not allowed to play with them OR WITH LAURA anymore. Huh? This is filtered through two children, so it's hard to know what was said or what it meant, but Conspiracy Guy was coming to see if I had any idea what that could be about. I do not.

I told him that Laura had only ever played with the Mystery daughters a handful of times, and months ago (around the time I wrote that first post). Somehow, with the intuition that kids have that a person or a situation is slightly off, Laura doesn't want much to do with the daughters. A couple of weeks ago, the youngest Mystery daughter wound up in our backyard along with CG's girls, and her au pair, a young Thai woman, came looking for her, but it didn't seem like she was in any trouble for being back there. So who knows?

CG then went on to regale me with stories of trying to have some interaction with the parents, with pretty much the same results I got. They had a little girl's bike out with their trash, and he knocked on their door to ask if he could take it. The wife wouldn't come to the door to speak to him, but just had her daughter open the door, while she leaned down from upstairs to grunt her approval. The wife is staying home now, with their one year-old baby and the au pair, but we never, never see her or the baby outside.

Then, yesterday, I was chatting with Mindy next door, and she said, out of nowhere, "I wonder if they're still fighting?" She meant the Mystery People. I said, "What do you mean?" and I was thinking, "I swear, do you people KNOW that I have a blog, because somehow it works out that when I'm thinking about a post, you bring me fresh gossip." Mindy said that the Mystery daughters, who really are starved for attention, were down at her house, and said that their step-dad had moved out while the wife was pregnant, and had moved back in after the baby was born, several months ago. Mindy, who has lived here a long time, offered that the guy is "mean," and said that she used to hear him yelling at kids who happened to traverse his backyard. Then he had it fenced in. And once at swim team practice, I heard him say to his stepdaughter, who was swimming laps, "You're not tired! You're just a wimp!" And it was not said in a loving way. So yeah, I would agree with "mean."

Now I'm just randomly gossiping to you guys, as though you live over the back fence. I am tacky, sorry! I can't really shape this into a coherent narrative for y'all, but all this was to say that the Mystery People keep coming up lately. AND they've been keeping a car parked in our cul-de-sac for weeks. It's the car the au pair drives, and I have no idea why they can't park it in their driveway, instead of basically in front of OUR house. I was putting up with it because I thought it belonged to a friend of CG's, but now that I know it's the Mystery People's, and that it's not a temporary thing, I'm going to open up a can about it, because it's against all kinds of HOA rules. So yes, I am about to become that neighbor. Will keep you posted.

Thank you as always for your time and attention!