Monday, August 29, 2011


Here we have my dolls. Two Cabbage Patch Kids. The dark haired one was my first, Christmas in 1984. The blond curly cued one was a gift a year later. Kimberly is the blond up front and I got her in 82/83. She actually came in pink hot pants and a gray and pink striped top. She was naked when I rescued her from.the rents basement and a quick ebay search led to the coveted cheerleader outfit. She has both roller skates still but one is missing a wheel. The blond with the braids and lavender outfit was my First Communion gift from Grandmom and Grandpop Bonanni, 1985. Every time I see her, even now, I think she is such a beautiful doll.

I loved my dolls...loved playing with.their hair, loved playing mommy, loved dressing them and laying them in carriages. I keep them here in my room, next to my bed and Mitch always says, "Mommy...dose your dollies?"

Sunday, August 28, 2011


A Starbucks stop in a whirlwind of a Friday errands pre Hurricane Irene.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's Beautiful

Today on our way around town, running errands in preparation for Irene, the sky is gray and gloomy, I'm disappointed that once again, the rain is spoiling last summer days and plans and Mitch looks up and tells me its a blue sky, Mommy. Hmmm. Not really Mitch. Its more overcast. Pause. Its beautiful, he says.

Ive never heard him.use that adjective and I burst out.laughing with adoration. Only my.son.could call a gray sky blue and think its beautiful. I'm glad he sees the good. I told him he brought a glimmer of hope to the.impending storm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Anthropological Look at Mad Men

I know this show has been on for some time. I had been intrigued by it in 2007 thinking it looked pretty clever and never minding a nod to a previous era. Finally, thanks to Netflix, I am catching up. I'm just about through Season 3 now so I should be good to go by the time Season 5 broadcasts later this fall/winter.

The show never ceases to amaze me at how dead on it depicts its characters and how true it stays to 60s culture and ideals. Sometimes it is quite unsettling:

Housewives | Trophy Wives
A lot can be said here. Maybe too much for one post. But let me start by saying I actually really like the character of Betty Draper. January Jones nails it as the token trophy housewife. I think of how this is essentially my grandparents' generation (give or take a few years). It was pretty normal for a woman to be marred young and have babies in her early 20s, and be a housewife. There simply weren't tons of opportunities - outside of being a secretary I suppose. I once read an article about women in the 50s marrying young, idealistic, and when things plateaued into boredom, they couldn't understand why their husbands couldn't fix it. A "Don't you know what I want? I thought you were supposed to know? And do it?" expectation that was ultimately met with disillusionment and disappointment.  Because those women sure didn't know what they wanted. It simply wasn't considered/thought of - by women or men - that women could think for themselves, have a choice, make a decision, explore her identity and own it.  You would think the role of housewife would be her identity but it's not really. So I can sympathize with Betty's character and her disappointment, conflicting feelings about marriage, love, life.

This Huffington Post article explores the housewife role in the 60s, particularly Betty's. The commentary that follows is also very interesting.  A lot of people slap the "spoiled brat" title on her - or other women of that time. Perhaps some were.  But that is so superficial and shallow and lacking a true understanding of gender issues in mid-century America. To my next point about the feminist movement a decade later, I'm happy we've made strides here. 

After seeing secretary desk after secretary desk in Mad Men, all I could think was how boring a job that is and why on earth were all those secretaries needed? What a waste of money. I'm grateful to the women before me who paved roads for more equal opportunities - in education, in the work place, in life. My parents generation (Boomers) had tons more opportunities than the previous one - women especially. They may not have been climbing corporate ladders yet but college or vocational training or even just work in general was more normal. Most of all, we have choices now. We can choose to stay at home with our kids or work part time or full time. We can make those choices with our partners. I'm grateful for that progress.

I sympathize with Betty...and I sympathize with Sal...and every other homosexual (men and women) at a time when it was simply unaccepted. When men married because it was the socially acceptable thing to do and suppressed their feelings for life. We have a long way to go in this department, still. But again, I'm grateful that 40 years later it's more socially accepted. My wish is that not only are there better, more fair civil union laws, but that it's accepted and those who struggle with their sexuality find peace.

Smoking | Drinking
WOW. This has been talked about everywhere. I won't get into it much except that WOW, I cannot get over how acceptable it was to smoke. Smoke. Inside. And drink. At work. At 10am. I remember seeing photos of my parents yearbooks (late 60s) and their smoking lounge. Seriously? fast forward 20 years and I get the "SMOKING IS BAD" lecture daily and risk expulsion if caught looking at a pack of cigarettes. How did it go from one extreme to another? And really -- expulsion?

Children | Parenting
This breaks my heart. Again, if Betty and Don are slightly younger versions of my grandparents then Sally and Bobby are like my parents. And this is their upbringing to a T. Children were seen and not heard. I give Betty some credit -- in a time when parents are afraid to crack the proverbial whip, we can stand to pull a few pages from her mid-century disciplinarian handbook. But that's it. Constantly checking out...not dealing...telling her kids to go watch TV...not addressing Sally's feelings when Grandpa Gene passed and the arrival of the new baby? Her line was classic: She's a kid, she'll get over it. Again, the Huffington Post article talks about her parenting...well, both their parenting skills or lack thereof. 

It's awful. We can all sympathize with needing a break. I can even sympathize with her lack of identity and not wanting to deal - to a point. I had the luxury of going through that existential crisis at 23/24 and I waited to get married and have a child until I had a clear sense of who I was as a person - because times had changed and I could. But so many children of this generation grew up never knowing how to express emotions, fight fair, or deal. They had old school parents telling them to put on big boy pants and suck it up. No one treated them like the intelligent beings they were.

I witnessed this first hand in the late 90s when my mom went through her own existential crisis.  Lots of back stories but suffice it to say she took a 5 year hiatus to explore who she was and is.  She was married young, worked for a while, then wanted kids.  20 years and four kids later, one (me) about the fly the coop for college, and she was a wreck.  Moreover, she didn't know how to express what was going on internally.  I have often asked her if she had regretted her choices and she always says no.  I believe her.  I believe we are where we are at a point in time.  Her choices at 21 were very different from my choices at 21.  She really did want to marry, work, then raise a family.  And I'm glad she did :)  But when my siblings didn't understand her (or want to understand her) at the point in her life, I tried.  I still needed a parent - and there was a struggle there - but at 20 years old, I got that she didn't have a clear sense of who she was as woman, wife, mother...and she needed time. 

I have both sadness and admiration for my mom.  I get that it was "normal" and I cannot punish my grandparents for raising their kids the only way they knew how, because it wasn't criminal.  But it saddens me that they - and countless others - saw children as secondary citizens...trophies to show off a marriage and at the expense of my mom (and dad).  It saddens me that their very real feelings were never considered or validated in situations.  That they had to put on a happy face and keep up appearances. But then I admire them because they could have turned around and raised us the same way and they did not.  They chose to raise us differently. We were seen and heard.  We could talk or cry or whatever (within reason!).  We weren't shunned. I also admire their perseverance and resilience - the part that no one really sees because it's easier to slap labels on people and situations than to understand the cultural expectations of the times. But the truth is my mom did persevere.  In her 20s and 30s as a housewife and then later, through the identity crisis and into someone who knows herself, is confident, can communicate better, and found meaningful work. 

Everyone parents differently but I'm glad there is more focus now on the needs of children.

These are just a few of the Mad Men themes that get me. There are bigger ones that tie into these too. I'll save it for another post. In the meantime, here is a great video compiled by the series on the "Rules" on Mad Men.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Holy Mother of God.

Today at 2pm I experienced my first ever earthquake. here. In Swarthmore. On the East Coast. I thought I had lost my mind and was imagining things. Suddenly my desk, laptop, chair and house shook. It lasted about 10 seconds. What the hell? Jules came down the steps and gave me a cocked eyed look and I knew she had felt it too. I mean, could both Jules and I be losing it?

Nope. A 5.8 quake from parts of the south on up to New York state, some Midwest states and some New England states.

My dog, kid, family and I all experienced a quake.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sound of Music Flash Mob

When Philadelphia is the talk of the town and East Coast thanks to horrific flash mobs, you wonder why flash mobs can't be like this.

Thanks to another Philly Social Media Mom - Rachee at Say It Rah-Shay for posting this. It made my night.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Home Projects

As if I don't have enough going on, I'm thinking of some home projects that need attention this fall. They exist in my head so I need to jot them down, lest I forget.

Spraypaint my desk. It's actually a cool Ikea white with orange accent desk but the orange, while I love it, doesn't go with the living room. So I need to spraypaint it silver.

Wipe down walls. Seriously, the dining room walls are just filthy. I also managed to rip a piece of paint off one wall last winter and it still needs some spackle and touch up.

Wall decor. Our living room is lovely now (well except for the kid drool and dog fur on our sofa) but the wall above our media cabinet is lacking art. It's calling out for some things other than quadralaterals.

Mitch's room. Probably the biggest undertaking. I grabbed some swatches at our local hardware store. To my surprise and glee, they carry the Williamsburg palette and I found some grays, blues and oranges. Mitch got to choose wall color - he went with the gray/silver. So base boards will be this muted slate blue and the shelves will be a burnt orange. With a little lacquer, they should look great. But I think this project needs to start in October...and be a potential Santa gift as well.

A mid-century chair. I need something, whether it's vintage (preferred) or Ikea for our living room to create more of a sitting area.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daycare Woes

So I've been a little stressed in recent weeks. Besides big things on the horizon for Piccadilly, I've been a little Type A over M's potty training and transition to the next class at daycare come September. The training has been improving but not as quickly as I would have liked or expected. It's tough because we've been pretty hard core with it since April. By July, several of M's classmates were being moved up to the older room, in preparation for the preK class come September. Mitch and a few others have been in their usual room but now with some toddlers that were moved up from the young toddler room. So to make it more clear - he was in his room with all his buddies that's been with since infancy. Now he's in a room with a few 3 year olds like himself but the vast majority are 2.5 or just turned 2. We were told he'd move up in September (and away from the 2 year olds) but we are unsure as to where that is exactly. This sort of transition place for 2.5-3 year olds or the actual preK class? The preK class has most of his pals and in actuality is where he'd be come 1st grade - with kids born in late 2007 and through mid 2008. So I can't understand why the hold on my kid...unless it's really potty related. And then I'm perplexed - a lot of the ones that are trained are girls or are boys with older siblings. Is my kid really behind? I didn't think so but it feels like it.

So of course I'm stressed about it. Several friends and teachers have tried talking me off the ledge, saying let it be...he'll go where it's most appropriate for him to be right now. He's only 3.

It's the overachiever in me. I don't like feeling like someone is holding my kid back. I'm open to hearing concerns but outside of the potty situation, his teachers sing his praises. So I do feel like he's ready for this next "place." If we were not at this daycare, I'd be putting him in a regular preschool this fall. I guess we'll see what happens. I suspect I'll be asking a lot of questions though come September and negotiating a reconsideration come November/December.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Get It

Years ago when I worked at the D-town agency I would give my boss a ton of grief this time of year: conference season. He was an overwound toy most days and this time of year just meant his batteries were on overload and burning out a few times a day. The stress level was high to say the least. I was constantly cracking jokes or insisting he go get a cup of coffee and take a walk.

I'm not a terribly stressful person and when I am in that place I can typically manage it well. But now that Piccadilly is going full force into the conference season this fall, I get it. I now know how he felt and every single thing that goes though one's head - the panic, the 40 million things to do, and why won't people just leave me well enough alone to do it?!

I was such a jerk.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Extreme Coupon Nation

They are everywhere...on their crusade to help moms and folks everywhere do everything for pennies or free. They scour the web for daily deals and coupons; they may have invented the online version of Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes and giveaways. Every day in my Facebook stream is another "frugal" blogger touting her bad ass find or roundup of deals. For tons of followers to comment how excited they are and validate that blogger's existence.

I've come to hate the word "deal." The word "frugal." The word "giveaway."

Hey, I'm the first to admit that after spending my $500 in a quarter at J.Crew I am VERY excited to get my $25 reward bucks in the mail. Or enjoy the annual denim sale at Gap. Or get hooked up with free tix to Dutchwonderland thanks to my hubby's radio spots. A coupon here and there...a Groupon deal here and there...on stuff I/my family love and enjoy.

But I'm not frugal by any means. I'm not thrifty or a penny pincher. And I don't care if in today's times that is frowned upon. I'm just smart and responsible. And being smart means knowing that nothing is for free. Someone somewhere is paying for whatever it is. And that is what gets me fired up. This recession has given rise to a group of obsessive consumers who could care less about the worth of something...about the labor that someone put into their craft. Because while a Groupon to the Gap might barely affect the bottom line, a Groupon to a small business or free tickets to a performance does. AND I HATE THE MENTALITY.

This climate perpetuates the "do all, see all - for nothing!" mentality - the sense of freedom and entitlement that we felt pre-October 2008. People still expect all that. Just - for next to nothing now. Since they were so wronged. Somehow people have forgotten - or decided not to care - that constantly slicing away at the price means no one wins and we don't get out of this recession. I get that times have been and continue to be rough. I was a 2009 layoff victim too. And I still want and expect a certain lifestyle. But is my response to insist I get a deal to everything? Hell no. I don't make it my mission to find or ask for a deal to/for anything. I don't believe that everything in this nation is or should be a freakin bargin bin. I believe most businesses set competitive prices and/or fair prices. It's not always affordable for me but it is what it is. I just might have to cut expenses and cut back on performances, coffee, eating out, cable TV or make a big lifestyle change like scale my child back to PT day care (is that frugal? Or is it just smart economics?). I've done it before. Maybe that's it. My fourth layoff and I'm like, OK - re-evaluate. And certainly, as a business woman, I don't take away the power of negotiation. When and where appropriate. Or the occasional sale or discount.

But the bottom line is this -- I can't have it all and all at the same time, for pennies on the dollar. It's about evaluating...understanding that everyone needs to make a living so I making smart choices, value time and labor, value my family's time, and value everyone's hard work and income.

I've had to minimize the time spent with some folks who make it all about the price tag and whether there is a deal for it -- because they actually can't say no (to themselves or their kids) but rather, let's find a way to do it. That is sad. But then again, I don't have a problem saying no.

And the disclaimer here is - I do know that just because one is a thrifty or frugal person doesn't mean he/she falls into this category of extremeness. But it sure does feel as though the extreme either runs rampid or else has a very loud voice.

But I wonder --- all these people obsessed with their daily deal...Do they value the chase more than the capture? or the feeling of holding 25 deals in their inbox? Do they spend the vast majority of their time online hunting for a deal than actually enjoying it? or running themselves and their families into the ground to take advantage of every single thing? And could they ever put a price on their own time and labor and hold someone to it?

Beach Trip August 12

A day at the beach...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

If You Do One More Thing...I'll Do Nothing

This is a great article on BlogHer. About those parents who threaten their kids and then never follow through. We have all been there. Even me. But there are those that stay there...and others, like me, who have learned quickly that one must enforce the threat/consequences. I mean, hey, wasn't that how I was raised?

I used to have this sweet boy that occasionally would need a time out for throwing a toy. Consequences didn't work on an 18 mo old...nor did they work much when he was two. But a simple time out, a break from the action, sufficed. I would listen to other mom friends tell their tales of disciplining their kid and simply wasn't in a place to wrap my head around their challenges.

Now I have a three year old and I get it. Now that he's three, he has a vocabulary, emotions, attitude, and the uncanny ability to defy us. To hear but not explore and blatantly test boundaries. I feel like the times I am with him this summer all I do is holler. And I've become "that mom" who hollers at her kid in the store and parking lot...who grabs her kid and gets down to his level and sternly tells him to knock off whatever he's doing. I imagine other moms get it. It's the single 20-somethings sans kids that like me at that age, do not. I even found that the threat of not going to the pool or not using the iPad works. And if it doesn't they are yanked.

I have also witnessed some poor parenting by friends of mine. Again, not something I would have noticed when I was younger, sans kids, or even 18 months ago when Mitch was still just a young toddler. Now that I see how and when my kid acts up, I have no patience for wishy washy parents. Parents that threaten to take away dessert if a few more bites of dinner aren't eaten (Threatening food just makes no sense to just doesn't carry the same weight as a toy or event), who threaten a million times and never follow through, or who can't/won't control their kid when adults are over, who let their kid stay up far too late, even the ones that control conflict. I really feel sorry for the kids. They own it and they know it and even if they are generally good kids, they have no boundaries. Sometimes it takes schooling and the disciplining of teachers and the social interaction with other kids to balance out the brat. Other really do have an elementary aged brat on your hands.