Friday Frivolity: Your kids on books

Any modern mother who loves to read, has a child who loves to read, or even just likes the idea of books will be charmed by this poster from Denver, Colorado based non-profit, Burning through pages. What's our connection to the organization? Absolutely none, but this poster has gone viral, and we just can't resist being part of the frenzy. Who can resist the idea of unlocking a child's creativity and imagination through reading? 

Wishing you wonderful weekend adventures, real or literary. 

May I make a suggestion?

“May I make a suggestion?” might be a dreaded question for a new mother, but it also exasperates the mother volunteering to run a large school or community event. Why would a simple suggestion fill her with dismay? Ideas inevitably follow. Often good ideas, but approximately 99% of which require large amounts of money, time, or both. In most instances, the volunteer chairperson is already working hard, barely holding it together, picking up take out for dinner, forgoing the gym, and all for the satisfaction of contributing to her community, not an actual paycheck. The last thing she needs is more added to her to do list.

 “Wouldn’t it be great to hold the school auction on a riverboat?”

“You should hire a choral group to sing carols during the Holiday Bazaar – it would add so much atmosphere.”

“Why don’t we take all these great donations for the rummage sale and sell them on ebay? They would bring in so much more money!”

 The answer to all of these suggestions might be a resounding yes, were time and money no object. But time and effort are in notably short supply these days.

 If a modern mother is the unlucky chairperson of such an event, what should she do when faced with fanciful and/or time consuming suggestions? While it may be tempting to reply, “Great idea! Perhaps we could get Gwyneth Paltrow to do an endorsement of our event on GOOP, and we could get a caligrapher to hand write 500 invitation to all members of the community while we're at it!” but it would probably be better to respond, “That is such a fabulous idea. Would you like to start working on it?”

 As a corollary, when the modern mother finds herself only tangentially involved in some auction/spring fair/charity rummage sale, and is overcome with brilliant ideas and suggestions, she should stop and consider the who, how, where, and when of making them happen. If she finds herself ready and eager to help propel her idea forward, then go crazy, go ask the volunteer chair and you might make even her day.  Otherwise, take care offering suggestions, or you’ll be the first person called upon to run the show the following year.

Hat Trick

Friend Jane emailed us a few weeks ago with a hat conundrum.  She wants to protect her face from the sun, but she does not want to look or feel silly - something that can easily occur when donning a chapeau.  Please tell me, how do you wear or find a hat for the warmer weather?  

Thank you for asking.  We discussed the topic at our last editorial meeting and agreed that we were singularly and collectively unqualified to dispense hat advice.  Luckily, we know an expert.  Allison Hamilton-Rohe, is a style coach and founder of DailyOutfit.  Below are her thoughts on sun hats. 

The Perfect Hat
By Allison Hamilton-Rohe
Hats can be so difficult to get right and yet they are absolutely mandatory if you like being outdoors at all.  The good news is that I have found the perfect hat! 

Fabulous.  The design of the Scala hat ($22-$30) echoes the big, floppy sun hat you might expect poolside in Capri, but is much easier to pull off.  Because the brim is not quite as wide as your usual straw hat, it’s a little less fah-bulous without being unfabulous.  Rather, it is totally fabulous without being over-the-top. 
Practical.  Not only is this hat washable and UPF rated to 50, it also has a very handy inner drawstring which keeps it on your head.  I have tested the drawstring on the beach at the Outer Banks, on the top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine and on a boat.  It stayed on in all three situations, which is impressive!

Packable.  Because the hat is cotton versus straw, it folds, rolls and goes easily in your suitcase, backpack or big purse, which is wonderful for full day trips or if you live or are visiting a place where the weather changes rapidly.
Now what about the most important part -- how does it look?

Flattering.  I have now seen this hat on almost all the face shapes -- rectangular, oval, round and heart-shaped – and it’s looked great on all.  Short hair and long.  I can’t yet say it’s universally flattering, but I’d be surprised if that were not the case.

Color.  The most difficult part about this hat is choosing a color.  Available in 20 shades, there’s no doubt you can find at least one that brings out your eyes or flatters your skin tone.   However, you want to match the color to your situation.  A bright pink hat is great at the beach, but not so fitting on a hike.  Luckily, since it’s inexpensive, you can buy a different color for each occasion and still be a-head  (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!)
Still Not Sure?  While hats can be confusing and sometimes it feels easier to just don a baseball cap and call it a day, I suggest trying the Scala hat to stretch your sartorial muscles.  If you’re not sure, order the hat and test your look by using your timer on your camera and taking a photograph of yourself in the hat.  Send the photo to some trusted friends and to me.  I promise I’ll tell you if you look foolish.  But, my guess is you might want to prepare for some compliments!

Allison Hamilton-Rohe developed DailyOutfit to help you reorganize and develop a fantastic wardrobe that flatters your body type, works for your lifestyle and helps you express who you want to be. Transform your life through your look.
Thank you, Jane for asking and hats off to you Allison for you help!

Enjoy the weekend.

Thanks a lot Time Magazine.

Presumably by now, unless she lives under a rock on the moon, the modern mother has seen the cover of this week's Time Magazine.  And yet, at this point dear savvy, mannerly readers, what can one say?  Congratulations Time Magazine you've won the week.  Victory is yours.  The LA Times got it right on Friday when it wrote "Time Magazine breastfeeding cover: A shocking 'stroke of genius.'"  Brilliant.  Just when we all thought the ennui was complete.  What could possibly be left to say on the subject of motherhood?  Tiger, French, Attached, Detached, Skinned Knee - we had heard it all.  But somehow the sight of an attractive 26 year-old model (as in runway) mother nursing her three year-old son who is standing on a chair, managed to get everyone in a lather once more. 

Or did it? Aside from a male friend who got a big laugh when he asked at dinner on Friday "Do you think that's really her kid?" everyone else we know has chalked it up to fringe believers lacking in decorum and a magazine looking for newsstand revenue.  After all, how many average mothers have the luxury of making this choice in the first place?  As we checked in with some of our favorite mainstream media parenting sites (Motherload, Huffington Post, The Juggle)  none of these writers  really had anything very heated to say about the whole thing either.  Like most moderate mothers these writers seemed  tired of the whole debate and probably needed to do something else like get some sleep, go to work, make dinner or write about someone with a real problem.  Because, let's face it, having the luxury to choose whether you can make your bed and person completely available to a child for five years is a pretty high-class problem to have. 

I would like to go on the record as saying I believe that the mothers in Time Magazine are exploiting their children for the sake of their own agenda and I feel sorry for those children that they will grow up with this notoriety.

 If you are looking for a nice dose of sanity try this take on the whole silliness by Boston writer Kara Baskin.

Mother's Day Flowers

This year, for mother's day, we bring you flowers.  Specifically, flowers by Sarah Ryhannen, who posts beautiful botanical photos on Saipua. If only we lived in Brooklyn, then we would run right out to her store and buy one of these lovely arrangements.

Wishing all our readers a wonderful Mother's Day!

I beg your pardon, what did you just call me?

We ran into a lovely lady this morning who wanted to know our thoughts on children addressing adults by their first name.  So when our archivist got back from her coffee break we asked her to pull up one of our earliest pieces entitled The Name Game.  Reprinted below with permission.

The Name Game
First published November 17, 2009

It is the rare adult who truly appreciates being addressed as "Hey, Betty" by a five year-old; especially when he is her son. The well mannered modern mother knows that no matter how egalitarian or evolved she is in her own abode (or commune) when meeting new adults a polite child should address them as Mrs., Ms., Mr. or Doctor unless expressly asked by the adult to whom she is speaking to do otherwise. This tried and true convention should be seen not as means of repressing a brilliant and precocious child but as a way of making other adults feel comfortable and respected by your children. The well mannered modern mother realizes there are really not that many adults who consider people under 18 their social or intellectual equals. She will at times even reflect upon the interesting fact that even Karl Marx, father of Communism and defender of the proletariat, addressed the workers of the world as "Comrade Vladamir" not just "Vladamir".

Friday Frivolity: Tea Towel Time

After a cold, gray and drizzly week in Boston, we decided to bring you something pretty, light, spring-ey this Friday. So, we present a lovely Esty shop, Giardino, which features hand printed linen fabrics, home decor and paper goods. My favorite are the tea towels. I'm not sure I could bring myself to put these to heavy use in my kitchen but they would make a fine hostess present or accessory at a dinner party.

The pillows are equally lovely, which might explain why I have not managed to pick out exactly what to buy, despite the fact that I pinned these on pinterest months ago

There's even one for all you chevron fans out there.

Enjoy! Have a wonderful weekend!

Dinnertime discourse for little people

It's always thrill to see a mannerly topic garner headlines, even if only in the “style” section. And so “Table Talk: The New Family Dinner” in Sunday’s New York Times was a welcome sight. The article describes the habits, conventions and rituals of family dinner conversations, cites examples from the childhoods of famous and/or highly successful people, including Johnathan Safran Foer, Amy Chua, Laurie David, and Rahm Emmanuel, and describes the Obama family “rose and thorn” ritual in which family members enumerate the high and low point of their day.

While some might find such family conversation strategies contrived, I was inspired. Would it be possible to use the “rose and thorn” trick to steer our family dinner conversation away from Star Wars, Captain Underpants, and Why can’t I go see the Hunger Games? Could we manage to banter about ethical conundrums? Geopolitics? Would heated discussions of current events propel my children into fame, fortune and politics as it in the Emmanuel family?  Hardly, yet it’s worth the effort. Guiding our children towards informed conversations means setting expectations about behavior, treating them with the civility and respect we hope they will show others, and teaching them about the larger world. Such family table talk is hardly “new” as the New York Times title suggest. It's just good manners.
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