Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Penny Saved $$$


I recently discovered a couple of really good sites by women with financial savvy that are worth mentioning:

bargainshopperlady.com has frequently-posted shopping hints and coupon codes. I saved a lot on a big order at Coldwater Creek last month, thanks to her.


I also like halfpriceliving.blogspot.com. This blog by author Ellie Kay looks like it has more practical financial planning insights than many I've seen.

Get Saving!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Into the Fray

To this point this has been a benign little blog primarily about comings and goings at The Pink Victorian. I have avoided political controversy and tempered my parenting ideals with reality. Today I will cautiously raise a topic for discussion which is apparently a very volatile matter, for the sake of gaining understanding and becoming a better peacemaker. To protect the children involved, I will call it the
Organic Oatmeal Issue.
Let me explain:
The holiday season was peppered with citations by my contacts, which are many, and of multiple generations, that Christmas gift-giving and receiving has become more manipulative than loving, especially when the recipients are young children. Instead of a gift being a surprise for all present during its unwrapping, lengthy negotiations are held long before the day about the acceptability of the gift or oblique threats are made that certain forbidden items might be revealed at the foot of the tree just for spite.
For example, a grandparent receives notice that only unpainted toys are to be given to the grandchildren, presumably to eliminate the risk of lead paint; or a father-in-law hints that he is wrapping a cap gun for little Jimmy for the sake of his developing manhood, fully knowing that Daddy and Mommy don't intend for Jimmy to play with artificial firearms. Power Rangers dvds are given to children who don't watch TV and parents retaliate by enforcing their ban on red dye #40, only to have Christmas M&M's added to their organic oatmeal...you get the idea.
I am curious. Is it just me or has gift giving become territorial? What do you think? Are parents at the mercy of the mandates of Christmas Morning Magic and impotent to confiscate the contraband? Are they asserting their rules and convictions out of a sense of insecurity in breaking away from the ways of their upbringing? Is this a subtle rebellion with the offspring being used as weapons? Are grandparents today of the mistaken notion that they are co-parents with equal jurisdiction over the kiddoes? Have parents abused the luxury of the innate quality low-cost childcare to the point that the lines between parent and child have been blurred? Do they fail to "leave and cleave"? Are the grandparents just so limited in quality time and desparate to be the "favorite" that they are willing to undermine the authority of the parents? Do they feel unappreciated for all that they feel they have already given? And perhaps most importantly, have we become so child-centered that little Jimmy's Christmas morning bliss is the objective and pinnacle of the holiday season? I am curious.
What are the potential solutions to this problem which lies dormant year-round but is one more thing that internally threatens the family, which is already under seige from external forces?
What say you?

****DISCLAIMER: I reiterate that this post is strictly for informational and discussion purposes. Let's keep it clean, folks. And please know that I can only speak of other families' challenges vicariously because my children and their cousins have four utterly perfect grandparents who would never, say, let a 2 year old watch STAR WARS because, well, he wanted to. I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

NoHo Field Trip Part 3: M&J Trims and Times Square

Off to M&J Trims in the garment district to get some edging for Isabelle's bib. They have EV-ER-Y-THING for trimming and handbag hardware, millinery doo-dads, tassels and ribbons. Overwhelming. Completely overwhelming.

An obligatory stop at the Apple store. One of each please.

Shopping for finger puppets for another cousin from a street vendor. A silly dispute over which was Yoda and which was Shrek. I wanted neither, but some days these kiddoes can argue over ANYTHING! We bought a generic monkey for Cousin and moved on.

S. Coveting some running shoes at the Adidas store.

When we said we were leaving SoHo (derived from SOuth of HOuston) someone asked, "Now where? NoHo??." Logical. There must be something north of Houston.
Love that.

NoHo Field Trip Part 2: NYC Library

Between The Lions.

The Reading Room.
And after that we took a brisk walk to The Times Square Toys'R'Us Store with its ferris wheel and mobs of shoppers for a mini-shopping spree with Christmas money. Followed by a mild panic attack for Mommy...M. doesn't like to hold hands much and well, it is Times Square. Clearly not designed with a family of 7 in mind. Easy for a maternal imagination to migrate from a released hand-hold to a lost child to human trafficking. Perfectly legitimate concerns. A ride on Daddy's shoulders-the best solution.
Time for a relaxing dinner in the back room at The Heartland Brewery. Bellies filled, we joined the line of cars in the Lincoln Tunnel headed to the more sedate life of South Jersey. NYC...a nice place to visit...

NoHo Field Trip Part 1: Bryant Park

Just some sweet shots of a whimsical carousel in Bryant Park, alongside the skate pond.
Those too cool to ride.
Those who ride and look cool anyway.
Not pictured: The Banker who was looking for parking. He would represent those without whom the ride would not be possible. You only go around once in life- enjoy the ride!

SoHo Field Trip Part 2: Russ and Daughters Appetizers

And then there was a stop at Russ and Daughters Appetizers for a little lunch. Our N., the gourmet and seafood lover wanted to try their exceptional delicacies, settling on a sampling of the sturgeon rather than chub.

The most unique sides and salads, fabulous bagels voted the best by those who know such things.

Tight quarters, but great food and legacy.

SoHo Field Trip Part 1: Purl SoHo and Purl Patchwork

A little eye candy here. We took to the crew for a day in Manhattan to do some exploring, and went to SoHo for the first time.

One destination was inspired by one of my more innocuous New Year's resolutions: Knit SOMETHING. I caught the knitting bug from Sarah's blog and need to get going. Purl Soho and Purl Patchwork are sister stores just a few doors apart. Their shops are as enchanting as their websites, which have such great free downloadable tutorials. I would describe them as pastel hobbit holes, full of customers bearing that eccentric and ethereal knitting air about them; colorful and multi-textured and free-spirited. I'm profiling, I know. Please know that I mean all of these things as compliments!

I felt a little self conscious walking into the place with my copy of Knitting for Dummies under my arm. I'm not kidding.
Haven't uploaded pics of purchases yet. Will Do. I may need some accountability here.

Patiently waiting.

Got the sweetest Japanese fabric, Kokka, for a bib for a brand new little cousin in Germany.
I am in love with all of their prints and need to track down some cheaper yardages. Ebay maybe?

Martha Fan Club Member

A shot too good to pass up- M. wrapped in a lilac blanket/berka while watching an episode of Martha Stewart with me. He was enthralled in her cooking demo until he saw the flash from my camera. Clearly he is very secure in his manhood. I only get to watch on occasion and I didn't realize how familiar she was to him until we saw a photo of her in a store and he exclaimed "Look Mom! Martha Stewart!", and when we went to Russ and Daughters deli in NYC he concurred that it looked much bigger on Martha's show. I think it's time to push some kids' shows!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Chin Hair Friend"

This is a phrase I coined about 10 years ago when I attended a ladies' Christmas lunch with my grandmother's church. I really didn't know many of those spunky senior saints very well, so I was relieved when I found an acquaintance of mine there who was the guest of another congregant. She was not much older than me, nicely dressed, hair neatly done, makeup in place. We were not long into our pleasant conversation when it caught my eye. Sunlight was shining through the window behind her, illuminating her jawline and spotlighting an inch- long wirey chin hair. This was no stray coarse hair, it was a verifiable whisker.
As I tried to maintain eye contact I pondered my options. If it were me, would I want to know that a Brill-o pad transplant had appeared on my chinny-chin-chin overnight? Well, of course I would. The question was not whether she would want to know, but rather would she want ME telling her so. I decided in that moment that while we knew one another and had genuine affection for one another, we were not yet Chin Hair Friends.
A Chin Hair Friend is a rare find, a specimen that takes years, even decades to evolve, and which few of us have the extraordinary opportunity to discover. This is the kind of friend with whom you share so much history that verbal language is no longer necessary to communicate, and at times is merely a formality, because you already know one another's thoughts, intents, and motives. The kind of friend that houses your auxiliary brain, requiring a phone call to access some of your fading memories or the best comebacks in the midst of a marital spat. She tells you what she would do if she was you and then reminds you of what you ought to do. It is helpful if you and your Chin Hair Friend each have enough dirt on the other that in the unlikely event that one of you loses her mind and considers betrayal, said dirt will restrain her until sanity returns. Shared memories and self-deprecation remove all potential of humiliation in the case of say, a chin hair.
If while in the company of a Chin-Hair Friend an actual chin hair should appear, she will not bother to interrupt the conversation at hand, but rather casually grip the offending hair betwixt two fingers and give it a yank and carefully tuck it into a Kleenex so that she can later add it to a scrapbook page to chronicle your very first chin hair.
This week one of my very few, and my oldest Chin-Hair Friend will cross an important chronological milestone. I won't say how old she is, but I will say that when I attended her Sweet Sixteen Party a while back, we all had shoulder pads built into our sweaters. After decades of memories, volumes of notes and hours and hours of phone calls, I know that I can still reach out to her at any hour with a crazy idea or outrageous question. We may not make it to Italy for this birthday as we had once planned, but I pray for many more that we can postpone to. I hope that for many more years she can count on me to watch her back...and her chin. Happy Birthday, Sweet Friend!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Spiritual Caffeine

For all of my friends who are feeling a little droopy today.
You know who you are. Consider yourselves hugged.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Song for a Fourth (or 5th, or 6th...) Child

Song For A Fifth Child
Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth!
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!
Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake darling and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew,
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo,
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait til tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.
Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Passing On The Ham and Cabbage

No pictures to add, but in the hope of keeping a resolution to post more regularly I will mention that tonight's dinner was reuben sandwiches. That satisfies Grammy's ham and cabbage requirement for New Year's day, I think. We each had an orange, as well, to honor Grandma's regular reminder that when she was little she was happy to get an orange in her stocking if it was a "good year." Indeed it has been a good year. Oranges all around.