Archive for April, 2009

Are you curbing expenses on your kids?

The Associated Press is reporting what many parents know from first-hand experience – they are cutting back on what they spend on their kids.

From toys to birthday parties, from swim lessons to private schools, parents are saying “No” more often.

” ‘Parents are cutting back across the board,’ said BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson.”

“In 2008, sales of toys fell 3 percent to $21.6 billion from the previous year. Children’s clothing fell 2.2 percent to $36.8 billion, according to the research firm NPD Group.”

“At RockNfun Music in Falls Church, Va., the number of people, mostly children, taking guitar, piano and other lessons has fallen 5 to 10 percent in the past four months, co-owner Kevin Glass said.”

“Paul Feciura, owner of Youth Sports, Virginia Training Center Inc. in Woodbridge, Va., said business has dropped 15 to 20 percent since last summer – even though the Beijing Olympics should have provided a boost. The company is trying to accommodate some hard-hit …

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Is a see-through hotel bathroom OK for families?

I saw an article about a week ago in The New York Times about a new trend in fancy hotels – the open, see-through bathroom. Designers are praising it as the greatest thing since flushable commodes. The story reported:

This was the shower at the W hotel where we stayed last week. A little bit of clear glass but also open.

This was the shower at the W hotel where we stayed last week. A little bit of clear glass but also open.

” ‘Today’s luxury hotel bath is a space to live in,’ said Trisha Wilson, the founder and chief executive of Wilson Associates, a company that over the last two years has built 6 hotels with open bathrooms, with 10 additional hotels planned in Morocco, Vietnam, China and other locales. ‘We are seeing as much as 50 percent of the guest room being dedicated to the bathroom,’ Ms. Wilson said about her firm’s hotels.”

But the idea creeped me out, as it did this daughter who was traveling with her father.

“Last fall, Anika Chapin accompanied her father on a business trip to Toronto. The room that they shared at the stylish Hôtel Le Germain had two separate …

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Are you a bad parent and proud of it?

The latest trend in tell-all books and Web sites is parents proudly (albeit sometimes anonymously) confessing their child rearing sins. “True Mom Confessions,” by Romi Lassally, just published this month.  Ayelet Waldman’s “Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace” and Michael Lewis’s “Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood,” will be arriving soon. (The Wall Street Journal wrote a long story about this trend. Here’s the link.)

I recently was sent a copy of the “True Mom Confessions” book, and it is a guilty pleasure to read. The book is the best of some 500,000 anonymous confessions left on the TrueMomconfessions.com Web site. Chapters include: “Little White Lies,” “If They Only Knew,” “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,” and “There Is No “I” in Mommy.” Some entries are shocking. Some are sad. Some are easy to relate to and some I would never own up to!

For example, would you admit to:

“My son was so excited for his second …

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He’s mayo to my mustard – celebrating 15 years of marriage

Editor’s Note: There is a corollary blog below about our anniversary get-away — including photos! So check that one out next!

My husband and I are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this week, and I wanted to write a very flowery ode about how much I love him.

Michael and Theresa on their wedding day in 1994.

Michael and Theresa on their wedding day in 1994.

What I have learned this week is that I don’t write mushy very well.

After numerous tries to think up loving, yet non-cheesy, things to say about my husband, I have spent much of the week Googling divorce statistics instead.

I couldn’t find the one I was searching for. I wanted to know “How many couples make it 15 years?” However, I did learn that because we were married in our early 20s (I had just turned 22, and he had just turned 24), we are in the highest risk category of divorce for first marriages.

So really, truly — hooray for us! We made it 15 years!

Anyone who knows us, or who reads this blog with any regularity, knows that my husband and I are polar …

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Come along on our 15th wedding anniversary get-away

Editor’s Note: This is a corollary blog to accompany my column about how our marriage works after 15 years. Please read the other story too — preferably first.

Our wedding anniversary hits during a month with three family birthdays. We usually do not celebrate this date other than to literally pat each other on the back and say “Happy Anniversary.” We do try to at least celebrate the five-year marks with a little more oomph!

The "cool corner suite" at the W. Notice the teal -- an odd choice but somehow it works.

Our suite at the W. Notice the satin teal duvet — an odd touch but somehow it works!

For our 5th anniversary we went to New Orleans for a few days. We didn’t have kids yet, and we had a fantastic time in the Big Easy. For our 10th anniversary, we had two kids. Rose was 4 and Walsh was almost 2. My parents babysat the kids so we could take a four-night cruise to Mexico. We hadn’t been alone in four years! That was fantastic.

We didn’t have time (nor did we want to spend a crazy amount of money) to take a trip for our 15th wedding anniversary, but Michael …

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How do you talk about crucifixion/resurrection with kids?

The crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are defining elements of the Christian faith, yet not very easy to explain to kids. Church services mention the concepts in passing often, and I wonder each time how much the children in the congregation understand.

With Easter upon us, it’s hard, even for non-Christians, to miss the prevalence of discussions of these difficult concepts.

I am wondering how parents introduce and explain these concepts to their children? How old are children before they really understand? Does it scare or upset them when they really get what those words mean?

I would think it would be even more difficult for non-Christian families to explain to their kids what their friends may be talking about. How do you as a non-Christian handle teaching about these Christian beliefs?

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Are fancy Easter outfits still important?

When I was growing up in Atlanta in the ’70s and ’80s, having a fancy Easter outfit for church was very important. You often had gloves, white patent shoes and little patent purses to accompany a fancy dress. My mother still has all my Easter dresses hanging in my childhood closet. You can tick them off year by year.

Rose and Walsh in their Easter outfits 2008. The baby was sleeping.

I know women my age whose mothers toiled for months hand-smocking Easter dresses for their little girls. I don’t know any friends doing that today.

I do want my children to look nice on Easter Sunday, and it is fun to get a special dress for the occasion. However, my girls pretty much need to be able to wear the dress for the rest of the spring and summer. I’m not going to buy a dress so frilly and uncomfortable that they wouldn’t want to wear it to church each week.

Last year I bought the girls matching floral Hanna Andersson dresses.

This year we hunted at a bunch of stores but didn’t find …

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Do you want to know what your teens do on Spring Break?

So you’ve let your teen or young 20-something take a Spring Break trip with his/her friends.  Do you even want to know what’s going on down there or is ignorance bliss?

Did you warn them to stay with their friends? Did you warn them not to go off with a boy alone? Did you invoke Natalee Holloway’s name? Did you tell them under no circumstances to lift their shirts for a “Girls Gone Wild” video? Would you want to know if they did?

Do you make them check in with your daily, nightly? Did you send spies?  Are you attempting reconnaissance?

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Spring Break: Big fun or a big pain for parents?

Late Friday night, I walked upstairs to find my two oldest children giggling in Rose’s bed. They were waiting patiently for her Cinderella alarm clock to strike midnight ushering in the official beginning of Spring Break. (There was a big debate in our house about when Spring Break really begins. We thought as soon as school was over. Rose declared it was at midnight because Friday was still a school day.)

The kids are obviously thrilled to be out of school for a week. They can’t wait to sleep in and are ecstatic about not having homework hanging over their heads each afternoon.  They just want to ramble from house to yard without a schedule, without a plan and play for hours with whatever interests them.

I know my kids aren’t alone. Across the country, school-age children look forward to their Spring Breaks, but what about their parents? Is spring break really fun or just a logistically nightmare for parents?

Stay-at-home parents have a bunch more little people hanging …

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Are you upset about Madonna trying to adopt again?

Many people around the world, and especially from Malawi, are outraged that Madonna is trying to adopt another child from Malawi, but why?

A Malawi judge postponed his ruling on the adoption until Friday. Here is the full story from the Associated Press.

Here are some key excerpts about the controversy:

“‘We feel Madonna is behaving like a bully,’ said Undule Mwakusungula, chairman of the Human Rights Consultative Committee. ‘She has the money and the status to use her profile to manipulate, to fast-track the process.’ ”

“Madonna’s spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg in New York did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.”

“The girl Madonna is hoping to adopt is about 4 years old, according to a Malawian welfare official and another person involved in the proceedings who both confirmed an adoption application was under way. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is considered sensitive.”

“The girl’s 18-year-old mother was unmarried and died soon after …

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