A Thank You and a Year End Review

On this final day of 2011, we would first like to thank our faithful readers; Thank you, thank you, thank you, for continuing to visit our blog, leaving comments, and inspiring us with ideas, queries and quandaries. Second, we would like to indulge in some year-end reflection and review, with this month-by-month list of some of the most popular posts of 2011.

In January, we started the year wondering, Will 2011 be the Year of the Tiger Mother?

February brought on musings about grammar with The "I"s have it.

In March, we took on the term MILF in Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson.

In April, we discussed friendship in the digital age with, Friend, or Facebook Friend?

In May, we asked you all to consider Letting your child make the call.

By June, we had moved on to proposing revolution in So crazy, it just might work.

July was a good month for royal watching, so we pondered The Princess and the Pantyhose.

In August, we were blissfully sacked out in hammocks, drinking Mai Tais. Just kidding. We were really shaking the sand out of towels, slathering sunscreen on small bodies and otherwise trying to keep our children busy.

In September, we pondered The Meaning in the Missoni.

October is a serious month, so we asked, Is Academic Redshirting the Last Conversational Taboo? 

In November we enjoyed the frivolity of 11/11/11.

In December, the hand's down most popular post was this (tongue-in-cheek) Last Minute Gift Idea.

So there you have it: that's what been on our minds this year. Thank you for thinking it through with us and hope you'll come back in 2012: Who knows what we'll have to ponder! Happy New Year to all!

Frivolous Foliday

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday of your choosing.   For your amusement over the next couple of fun-filled days, here are 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'.

picture from thefw.com

Last Minute Gift Idea

Still searching for the perfect gift for the modern child?   You may be interested in this decorative item for his or her bedroom wall.   Frame and mounting are optional.  Who knows, they may even thank you when they're 40.

Found on our friend Kim's facebook page
seems to be from a real school in India  www.schoolofsuccess.in

Holiday Card Psychology

I met an armchair expert yesterday for a cup of hot chocolate and to discuss the psychology of holiday cards.  She lacks any relevant crediantials but is opinionated and has been around long enough to know how things work.  She was wearing dark jeans, ballet flats, a navy wax jacket and red tartan scarf.  I am only telling you this because this is how they do it in Vogue.  We shall call her Madame X.  Here's what I learned.

Madame X, thank you for sitting down with me. What can you tell our mannerly readers about holiday cards these days?
Well, Darling, like most aspects of life in these modern times, it's completely out of control.

How so?
Surely you have noticed how the fabulosity factor has overtaken the once genuine and sincere craft of connecting with people and wishing those far away from us a Merry Religious-Observance-Of-Their-Choice and a Happy New Year?  Now one starts by trying to come up with  a collection of words one hopes to be slightly festive yet completely inoffensive to the entire planet.  From there it is all about the glossy photos and beauty shots.  How many people even write notes on their cards any more? 

Not many I know.  Although some send a printed letter.
Yes!  I mean NO!  And what do those printed letter say?  Lalala... we spent the winter skiing, the summer beaching, our children are brilliant (!) fabulous (!), and as you can judge from the attached 32 picture photo collage, dramatically good-looking.  

So, you are an advocate for fewer pictures on a holiday card?
First of all, I know you talked about the rule of three in this blog at one point.  And really, never is this more true than with a holiday card. 

Meaning there should be no more than three photos on a holiday card?
Exactly.  And really just one.  If one is keeping score, and trust me, this has become something of a sport in many houses, maximum points are give for one good photo of everyone over many good shots of each family member. 

But what if there is one child, shall we say,  hamming it up?
That my dear, is what we call "representative of the moment" and something you might want to consider saving for his/her rehearsal dinner. 

Did you see the piece in the WSJ today about the holiday photo card industry?
Yes.  It was a good study of this phenomenon.  Ironically, it did not discuss the e-card option as found on Paperless Post.  This is the method to which I hope to be migrating in the near future.  Not only is it much less cher (my Dear) but green as well.  En fin, as for having oneself featured in that article, you know what I say, fools names and fools faces...

So I take it you are not a fan of Reality TV?
That, my friend, is another topic for another day.  

Thank you and Merry Christmas.
 Merry Christmas to you. 

Santa: Don't ask, don't tell?

For families who celebrate Christmas, Santa can be a pleasant diversion and a means for promoting good behavior, when children are young. But as they get older, the family might settle into an uneasy equilibrium. The children are old enough to know better: they couldn’t possibly believe that a man could deliver presents to millions of homes in a single night, powered by a few flying animals. Yet, perhaps, they are also wise enough to not question the clandestine delivery of presents which do not require a thank you note!  It might be hard for a modern mother to know: Do they know? Or not? Will they be humiliated in eighth grade when they are the last of their classmates to discover the truth?  Should we sit them down for a talk?

When there are multiple children of different ages, it becomes even more complicated.  If an older child asks directly, “Is Santa real?” in the presence of his younger siblings, the modern mother faces a conundrum: spill the beans to all of the the children, or lie to her 8/9/10 year old.  Alternatively,  she could take an existential approach: “If Santa doesn’t exist, then he can’t bring you presents, so if you would like to take that risk, you may.” And thus, the whole Santa thing evolves into a “don’t ask; don’t tell” situation.  Healthy? We’re not so sure. Effective? Yes. The older children become complicit in the Santa phenomenon, or maybe they just suspend disbelief for a few more years. Either way, the show can go on, even if it includes a knowing wink. 

* Santa image from allposters.com 

Please Excuse the Brattling

After stumbling across That Should Be a Word, in the most recent New York Times magazine, a modern mother might feel a mixture of amusement, curiosity and chagrin. The column offers three neologisms: (1) brattle (to discuss one’s children at length), (2) spamily (Facebook or Twitter updates about kids) and (3) spawntourage (a group of approaching strollers). All these terms are admittedly funny. Who hasn’t had to pinch herself to stay awake through a fellow parent's enumeration of nap schedules and dietary preferences? Who hasn’t scrolled right by the Facebook photos of a college acquaintance’s children? Who hasn't felt pushed aside by multiple strollers spanning a narrow sidewalk?

The modern mother snickers, but she might also frown at the tinge of hostility towards children and families. Are there really people out there who roll their eyes at the sight of several strollers passing? Who are these anti-children people? Do they sit around in cafes smoking, writing screenplays, and snarling at passing infants? Do they wear berets? Trucker hats? Do they have bushy hipster beards? Do they all live in Manhattan? (Because, last we heard Brooklyn had been taken over by young families, come to think of it, Manhattan too.)

Whatever the authors of these neologisms are like, wherever they live, anti-child sentiments are not frequently visible in the suburban enclaves inhabited by this modern mother. Perhaps that's a good thing. Or possibly not.

Being cocooned in a child-centric culture just might leave many parents vulnerable to the impression that their darlings are universally adored and admired. Could it give modern parents the idea that it’s appropriate to bring children to any and all events? Does it leave some parents unaware of the possibility that the view of a toddler smearing his dinner across table linens might detract from another diner’s fine dining experience? Or worse.

Perhaps it is just such cluelessness that has incited any child-hostile sentiments lurking in the child-free majority. So, thank you, New York Times, for that little bit of humor and that small reality check to parents out there. Or at least the ones who have the time to read the Sunday magazine.

Happy Turkeys

Dear readers, please excuse our brief hiatus.  We have been up to our elbows in paper mache.  Being neither crafty like Machiavelli nor crafty like Martha Stewart, one wonders what we could possibly have been thinking when we concocted the half-baked, life-size,  paper mache turkey centerpiece scheme in the first place.

Though in truth, this modern mother knows what she was thinking.  She was thinking "Do I really need to spend more than I am paying for my actual turkey at that fancy pants florists for some minimalist centerpiece involving about 9 stems when the children could make something wonderful for next to nothing?"  

So here we are three days and unimaginable effort, home made paste crises, cajoling, tempera paint showers and of course fun (?) later.  

After this "teachable experience," today's real turkey and 26 accompanying guests should be a cake walk. 

Hope we didn't just jinx ourselves with that last thought.

Happy Thanksgiving to all,

Elizabeth & Elizabeth 

A Good Walk

There are few things these modern mothers enjoy more than a good walk.  The  benefits are well established.  Nothing clears your head, stretches your legs and gets your blood pumping like a good walk.  Plus, and we must be honest, it is much easier than running.  So when we came across these two sites devoted to walking we just had to share.

 The first site, called Walking To Listen, is the ongoing story of a young man's journey across the United States.  He walked out his back door in Pennsylvania on October 14, 2011 and is, as of this writing, somewhere in Virginia.  He is headed to the west coast.  He is a wonderful racanteur and there is something very special about knowing this is happening in real time.

The second site is called abbyroad.com and it is (of all things!) a live webcam pointed towards the very crosswalk in London where the Beetles album cover was photographed.  So there you have it.   Happy walking.  Or watching.

Photos from Walking to Listen and Google

Friday Frivolity - 11/11/11

There is much frivolity to be had today, which is a good thing given the overall gloomy and weird news to be found in the mainstream media these days.

First, thank you to the wonderful and witty writers who have responded to our earlier post this week.  We are having great fun pouring over your blogs and writing pieces and will be in touch shortly.

Now, there are few things closer to our mostly mannerly hearts than corduroy.  So when we discovered in the WSJ over our morning coffee that today, 11/11/11, is "...the day that most closely resembles corduroy ever," according to Ms. Pieloch, director of "cordination,"for the Corduroy Appreciation Club,  we were delighted.  You can read all about it in this article

As the weather cools our thoughts turn to our dear friends who will and will not be spending Thanksgiving in Paris (you know who you are).  This piece by Julie Blakely might come in handy as well as these general tips for personal Frenchification wherever you are.

In other news, we loved our friend Kayce's post last night about her "Aunt Lilly."  Yes, that Lilly.

Have you had a chance to peruse the Nov/Dec Lonny Magazine?  Pure fun! Plus, we are intrigued by this new lifestyle shop C Wonder that recently opened in Soho and is featured in the magazine.  Sadly, it does not yet seem to have an online shopping component. 

Finally on this Veteran's Day, thank you to all the men and women who serve, have served and sacrificed so that we may prattle on in safety and peace about corduroy, fashion, beauty and decor ad nauseum.   Happy weekend!

photos from LL Bean, France in photos, Flickr and CWonder

Blogger Wanted

 Are you a new mother who knows nothing about children?  Did you once have a viable career with productive days or even weeks at a time?  Are you polite?  Considerate?  Interested in people and the world around you?  Are you wondering what you are doing in this strange new world of babies?  Can you write? 

If the above description sounds like you and you would be interested in writing for Manners for Modern Mothers every couple of weeks, please email us at info@mannersformothers.com

Thank you.

photo from the blog daddytypes

Friday Frivolity - Post Halloween Giggle and Mini Rant

Hopefully this funny piece from WNYC.org will help with your Post-Halloween traumatic stress syndrome.  We love it because it is mannerly, modern and very funny.

And another thing, when did it become vogue to "donate" used Halloween candy to  our military, homeless people and food banks?  Ironic, non?  Of course, we all want it out of the house but if it isn't good enough for our offspring why is it good enough for these segments of the population?  What if everyone just composted the candy and sent these groups a can of butternut squash soup?  Who's with me?  Aside from the fact that you can't compost candy...

 Enjoy the weekend. 

Photo and recipe from our friends over at Smitten Kitchen

Friday Frivolity - Boo To You

We hope you and your little goblins have a wonderful Halloween weekend and that the snow does not impede your fun.  For a good laugh please read this piece by Maria Semple in The New Yorker about the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.  Thanks to Amy and our friend at Google for sending this our way.  Enjoy the weekend!

Redshirting - The Last Conversational Taboo

There are, it seems, these days very few topics modern parents must avoid when making 'pleasant conversation' with people whom they do not know well.   Race, religion, politics, sex, reproduction - all fine.  But whatever you do, please save yourself (unless you are someone who just like to stir the pot and see how far you can get people going) and do not bring up REDSHIRTING.

Redshirting (in case you live on the moon) is the increasingly common practice of delaying kindergarten for children who turn 5 any time after April (assuming a September 1 cutoff for kindergarten).  As wealth disparity grows in the US, elite colleges take smaller and smaller percentages of applicants, academic expectations shift downwards ('first grade is like seventh now), and parents read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell this practice seems to make sense.

And then! Just when everyone is on board with the concept - research and articles like this one, Delay Kindergarten at Your Child's Peril  pop up in the New York Times and the frenzy begins all over again.

'So why is this such an incendiary topic?' a mannerly mother with the excellent fortune or insight to only give birth between October and February, might ask.  After all, who cares what other people do?  Do they honestly think it will make that much difference?  Don't these minor advantages in kindergarten even out by middle school?  If a red shirted child is valedictorian of her high school class, has she usurped that honor from the rightful heir in that age group?  What about those coveted spots at elite institutions?  Do colleges look at birth year? What about the child's self-confidence?  Is there academic data supporting this approach?  What about the parent's emotional baggage?  Does a red shirted student have a better chance of getting a scholarship? A better job?   Really doesn't it all come down to everyone wanting to do what is best for his or her children?  And the controversy lies in what he/she believes that to be.  But again, probably not the best questions to ask in a getting-to-know-you sort of way.

Of course the editors here at M4MM can not begin to advise you on the merits of either approach - we are just here to help you avoid this conversational minefield - should you wish to do so.

Lester Bangs: What, are you like the star of your school?
William Miller: They hate me.
Lester Bangs: You'll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle.

Photos from Google Images and Almost Famous web site.

Are You Wearing Pants?

While perhaps a bit remedial for our seasoned and sophisticated readers, the question "Am I wearing Pants?"  can be a tricky one to answer in these anything goes times of lycra, leggings, jeggings and just plain forgetfulness.   Wonder no longer mannerly modern mothers!  Thanks to the below flow chart discovered on the Huffington Post by our tech guru Amy and also brought to our attention by Alison over at Daily Outfit, you will never need to doubt your pant status again.

Flow Chart from Huffington Post designed by Amy Sly

A Thank You Note to Steve Jobs

We wanted to take this opportunity to agree with the kind and witty thank you note Stanley Bing of Fortune Magazine recently wrote to Steve Jobs. It is everything a thank you note should be; sincere, thoughtful and entertaining.  Thank you Bing for saying it so well.  And thank you Steve for all of it.

You can read the note here.

Images from Google

Hello Again

A One Act Play - Set in current day Suburbia

Young Energetic Mother: You know, I have been introduce to Sally Jones at least four times but she never seems to remember me and does not say hello when we see each other around town.

Older Wise Mother:  Hmmm.  And your children are in the same school?

Young Energetic:  Yes.

Old Wise:  Well my dear, I hate to break it to you, but it sounds like you are socially invisible to Sally Jones.

Young Energetic:  But, I don't understand. We have been at the same parties and events.  We know a lot of the same people.  To my knowledge I have never offended her.  Lots of people enjoy my company.

Old Wise:  Yes, my friend - including me. Now, let's run through the possibilities.  1) She is very busy and important and genuinely does not remember meeting you.  2) She knows she has met you but is playing some sort of weird 'I am too fabulous to know you game.'  3) She is shy, socially awkward and does not know how to interact with other humans.  4) She has been crazy busy being the perfect mother for the past 5 years and has only recently awoken from a Rip Van Winkle type coma and deserves another chance.

Young Energetic:  So what should I do the next time I see her?

Old Wise:  Because you are a kind person and a polite one, I know you will not give her a does of her own medicine and pretend you don't know her.  When you see her around town simply say "hello"  as you would to a neighbor, mail man or person you recognize but do not know well.  If she looks a you blankly or disdainfully just keep moving knowing you have done the courteous thing.  Remember if she is playing some weird head game the only way she can win is if you let her make you uncomfortable.

Young Energetic:  That's true. Good strategy.  What if we get introduced again?

Old Wise:  I think in that case I would let her speak first and if she does not say anything just say "It is so nice to see you. " and follow the conversational lead of the person who introduced you.  If it is awkward just drink up quickly and say "Oh my I seem to be our of champagne, will you excuse me?" and get on down the road.  You are an interesting person with wonderful friends and if she does not wish to count herself among them it is her loss.  You should not feel embarrassed or uncomfortable because someone else is oblivious or rude.

Young Energetic:  I'll do it!

The End

Friday Frivolity - Let Us Now Praise Angry Birds

'What on earth,' the well mannered mother might have thought to herself, 'is going on with this Angry Bird nonsense?'  Ignorantly envisioning some sort of cross between Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller The Birds and Space Invaders she mistakenly assumes this idiocy had nothing to do with her.  Yet, like most mass  phenomena (think Glee) these birds will seep into her subconscious until one day the game will simply appear on her iphone.

At that point her life will become both easier and harder.  Her life is easier in that her family has all agreed on a reward that is 100% parentally approved (no sugar or bad influences involved)  "Of course you can play angry birds on my phone, darling, as soon as you do your homework/empty the dishwasher/cut the lawn." One sibling's tennis practice in no longer  the torture it once was for the other, car trips, doctors' waiting rooms and security lines at the airport have become painless thanks to this absurd game where "players control a flock of multi-colored birds that are attempting to retrieve eggs that have been stolen by a group of evil green pigs." Her life is harder in terms of finding and retrieving her phone from family members, not to mention the lost hours she herself finds she is devoting to the pursuit.  Luckily, there is safety in numbers and she is not alone.  This fabulous fat and violence-free pass time is according to Wikipedia "the largest mobil app success the world has seen so far."  Have a happy weekend and if you spend it playing Angry Birds, just remember there are worse things you could be doing.

Picture from Rovio Website and Costume Express

Great New Plate

Our friends over at What Are You Feeding Your Kids These Days wrote a great piece on the new Healthy Plate developed by the Harvard School of Public Health.  The School of Public Health claims the new plate is "based on the most up-to-date nutrition research, and it is not influenced by the food industry or agriculture policy." Happy eating! 

Healthy Eating Plate from Harvard Health Publications

Friday Frivolity - Books for Kids

Last Friday we recommended two books for the modern mother.  A friend wrote in to ask if we had any children's book recommendations.  Two series that we (parents and children) enjoyed this summer are The Penderwicks which we listened to on audio

and The Mysterious Benedict Society, hugely popular and exciting read-aloud bedtime reading.  

Like all good children's literature both series involve absent or deceased parents, adventures and mishaps which can only be solved by the child heros of the books.  Happy Weekend!

Images from Good Reads

Meaning in the Missoni

Your humble blogger found herself at Target this morning , not - it must be confessed - entirely by accident.   As you may or may not know, today is the launch of the much anticipated Missoni at Target co-branding extravaganza.

 However, apparently knowing about this event (having read about it in numerous fashion and shelter publications) and preparing for this event were two very different things.  By the time this modern mother arrived at her nearest Target at 8:43 a.m. the shelves were empty, the employees shell-shocked and women were wandering around desperately asking other women with two and even three carts full of merchandise if they were going to "keep all of it."  The store was relatively empty save for clusters of disappointed women standing around the empty Missoni displays talking in hushed voices.  "The Target website crashed this morning,"  "They aren't getting any more shipments,"  "Someone said they might bring out more housewares in a few minutes."  "I should have gotten here earlier."

When asked whether people had been lining up outside early that morning the woman at the check-out counter shook her head and reported "It was crazy.  It was like Black Friday.  All these women running through the store..."

Obviously the modern mother should be more organized.  She should have asked a friend to drop her children off at school.  She should  have had a strategy, sneakers and possibly an accomplice.  She should have perused the look book  to know what items she wanted.  One might have gone to women's clothes, one to housewares, then on to shoes and girls.  Better add walkie-talkies to the plan in case Verizon and at&t (like the Target site) went down due to this incredible once in a lifetime event. 

Of course, to be clear, we are talking about Italian knitwear in fuzzy zig-zag patterns: sweaters, skirts, scarves, socks.  Plus shoes, plates, bowels, vases.  But of course, it is luxury knitwear.  Traditionally found in the hallowed salons of Barneys and Bergdorfs and on the Rue de Faubourge at very un-Target prices.

So what gives?  How does this marriage of high and low work?  Obviously it draws people (many of whom were driving pretty posh SUVs this morning) into Target.  But is it good for the luxury brand? As of this writing 12:53 p.m. September 13, the Target site is still down and a quick search on eBay for Missoni Target has produced over  600 items that had to have been purchased in stores this morning.   Does this kind of secondary market add to the brand value?  Or is it the expanded reach and awareness they are looking for?  Does knowing about the brand mean that more people will scrimp and save for the real thing?  Or is it just a lot of fun in an otherwise dreary economic climate?   Who knows, maybe after today Chanel and Jimmy Choo will be lining up to partner up.

Anyone know anything about this month's jobless numbers and that Poverty Report coming out this afternoon?

Pictures from target.com and NYTimes.com

Friday Frivolity - Reading is Fun Again

The modern mother found herself reading this summer.  Reading like she used to.  One book after another.  She read books and authors she had been meaning to read for years.  She read books that caught her fancy in the library and new books that friends and reviewers recommended.  If she started something and it was rubbish, she put it down and picked up another.  If it was good, she read it and found another.  Maybe it was all the travel, the lazy summer days, or the freedom from book club that made this possible.   Below are two favorites.  Happy Friday & happy reading.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Photos from Penguin and  Random House

A Pyrrhic Victory

The blogosphere was abuzz last week regarding the below graphic t-shirt.  The buzz got so oppressively negative that J.C. Penny pulled the shirt off its site on August 31st. 

This modern mother has a few thoughts about this silliness.  Obviously, it is an inane shirt and not at all well mannered.   It is sexist, feeding into the stereotype that men are better at math and science than women, and suggests to young women that beauty emancipates one from hard work and intellect.  

One envisions a group of 1950's marketing executives in brown suits smoking like chimneys having somehow traveled through time to design graphic t-shirts for mass market retailers.  So what if more women graduate from college, law school and medical school than men these days? It must be because they are hot, hoochie mamas.

Yet, at least this  message is direct.  The consumer is presented with a clear choice "Do you want your daughter walking around in this slogan or not?"  Often the message is not so obvious.   A recent toggle over to Abercrombie Kids (where size small would fit an average 7 or 8 year-old) shows us clothing that does not spell out that a sexy body is better than brains but these tops and sweat pants leave little doubt as to which assets a young girl should leverage to get ahead in 4th grade.  Oh, and by the way, have you seen MTV?

So, hooray, well done irate bloggers.  There is one less silly t-shirt available to the discount public.  Now please go forth and get the rest of the media and retail on board. 


"I have no illusions I lost them on my travels," so says Vicomte de Valmont in the dastardly French film Dangerous Liaisons.  Our own summer travels in the land of chateaux and bistros have dispelled a few illusions as well.  For example, why are French children generally so well behaved at the table? 

 I never put my elbows on the table

I never leave the table until the meal is finished

 I lift my food to my mouth

I never talk when my mouth is full

I cut my meat without disturbing my neighbors

I put my napkin on my lap

En viola!  Now we know.  If you don't mind a little shipping fee you can find these cute plates here

Hope your summer was wonderful.  Welcome back. 

Be Back Soon...

Much like our beloved television show, Mad Men, we will be taking a hiatus. Unlike Mad Men's staff, it's not because we're negotiating large salaries. We'll be off for a few weeks as one of us travels and the other moves her household across town, but we're looking forward to more discussion of manners and modern motherhood in the weeks to come.

Friday Frivolity: The Princess and the Pantyhose

So, maybe Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (nee Kate Middleton), is technically a duchess, but if People magazine is to be believed, the wife of Prince William is currently responsible for a remarkable resurgence in sales of the 70’s and 80’s staple, nude pantyhose. In photos of her recent tour of North America, the duchess can be seen in a variety of fashion forward dresses, skirts, and yes, sheer stockings. Amused? Intrigued? Want to know more? Then, we recommend The Great Pantyhose Debate on What Kate Wore, or Can Kate Middleton Bring Back Pantyhose? on Jezebel. Just don't blame us if you find yourself, in a fit of nostalgia, running out to buy a package of L'eggs.

* image of K.M. from People
* image of L'eggs from CNBC.com: Favorite Brands of the Boomer Generation. (who knew L'eggs would make the list??) 

Renovation as Right of Passage

There comes a time in many a modern mother’s life, when she decides to renovate her kitchen, or maybe even the whole house.  While this might initially seem like a good idea, there will undoubtedly be times during the process, in which she wonders, ‘why exactly did I sign on for this?’ It could happen when the blaring of power tools at 7:30am makes it impossible for her to hear or speak to her children anywhere in the house.  It could happen when she contemplates the freshly fallen powdery dust covering the dresser tops, the mantels, the entire household, and wonders what toxic and neuron-killing contaminants lurk therein. If these two renovation hazards don’t get to her, then the unstoppable, never-ending teeny tiny questions and decisions most certainly will.  Cabinet knobs or handles? Polished chrome? Satin Nickel? Antiqued brass? What exact shade of white for the trim? What will look dated? What will stay classic? Where to splurge? Where to remain frugal?

Eventually, she may even avoid her email and voicemail, knowing that they contain something along the lines of, “We need to figure out a spot to put that sewage ejector.” Or, “there's a problem with the cabinets you ordered: we can’t fit them in the door.” Or, “the floor tile has been back ordered for 12 weeks.”

Of course, a modern mother is lucky to be able to renovate and the final product will hopefully be thrilling, possibly even life-changing. The wise renovating mother can take heart in knowing that so many others have gone through this exact scenario, and even lived to tell the tale. She might even think of this “renovation phase” as rite of passage, a major life event that can be both exhilarating and lovely but also with some serious unpleasantness. Not unlike giving birth. Giving birth to a new kitchen/house/ bathroom.  

Friday Frivolity: Sparkling summer socializing

In this season of weekend visits and summer socializing, the modern mother will likely (hopefully) find herself at an adult dinner party. We can only imagine the company will be amiable and the conversation convivial.  However, should our modern mother find herself trapped by an obnoxious bore, or shifting in her seat as the conversation dies amid nervous laughter, we then hope she has read this recent piece from the New York Times: The Life (and Death) of the Party by Bruce Feiler. Mr. Feiler not only offers ideas of how to extract oneself from a monotonous tête-à-tête, but also suggests a few fun general questions, like, “How many of Michelle Bachman’s 23 foster children will vote for her for president?” We could add a few more, like, “if you had to emigrate and could choose any non-English speaking country, which one would you choose?” Or, “What was the first concert you ever went to?”  Readers, do you have a favorite question for general conversation?

Happy reading, and enjoy the weekend!

* image from the Style Files

Toddler Nation

The war is over and those on the side of glamor, sophistication and adulthood have lost.  You may, dear readers, have varied reactions to this news.  The first being, "How do you know?"    Secondly, "Is this such a bad thing?" or thirdly "Viva the revolution!  Down with the ageist separation between adults and children.  Elmo for everyone - put the sippy cup next to the Macallen 17.   Let's push on through til' midnight listening to senseless toddler prattle and the Velvet Underground. "

As for the how do you know - this is a most indelicate story and those of you prone to squeamishness might want to skip to the next paragraph.  The facts, as unbelievable as they are, are these: the modern mother had taken the modern father out to a very nice wood-paneled steak restaurant in Boston for his birthday dinner.   So, the tone  was festive - jacket no tie, dress and heels, linger over each course, make the most of a nice evening out.  Around 9pm the lady of the couple excused herself to freshen her lipstick in the ladies' room.   You can imagine her shock upon entering the lounge to hear a screaming toddler and a mother loudly and repeatedly urging the young person to "push those poopies out."  This diatribe went on for all to hear for the short time the modern mother was there and possibly long into the night.  (!!!!!!) Now, obviously biology is venue indifferent and when you have to go you have to go.  But if the young person was home in bed where she belonged it might have been a much better evening for parent, child and innocent victims alike.  Needless to say, this episode was something of a "buzz kill" for the modern mother.  She has sadly come to expect such behavior in many, many places (library, aquarium, playgroup, coffee houses) but somehow in such an elegant setting this was all so very wrong. 

Now the true libertarian will say, if these parents want to to take their child out for a $100 meal on a Saturday night at 9pm that is their right.  After all we wouldn't want to children to think they are second-class citizens.  Brilliant.  In that case let's give them licenses, voting rights, draft cards and firearms.

Forget the smoking and trans-fats bans in public restaurants, this author wants a toddler ban or at a minimum a 7pm  curfew for all people under 13.

Thank you.

Friday Frivolity - The Mod Modern Mother

If the well mannered modern mother is feeling mod she might want to check out the new-to-us site ModCloth.  

 The retro-inspired site feels a bit Anthro

a bit Betty Draper

and a bit 'it just ran off the runway'! 

Hooray, the modern mother who prefers not to hoof it to the mall now has one more reason to stay home and shop.

  Enjoy the weekend.

Pictures from ModCloth of course.
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