Friday Frivolity: Noisy Crowds and Kissing - Yuck!

Or so says bridesmaid # 1 in the left hand corner.  Hope you had as much early morning fun at your house as we did at ours with all the pomp and pageantry.  Happy Royal Wedding Friday!

Royal Wedding Tea Party Mania!

In an effort to keep unemployed suburban mothers off the streets on April 29th, the day that Prince William will marry Kate Middleton, Royal Wedding Tea Parties are cropping up around the world.  Should you wish to host your own royal tea or simply enjoy a bit of telly with a cuppa may we suggest the following.  Step 1, send the husband off with a quick kiss and  hurry the kids out the door.  Step 2, start brewing the official wedding tea.  Step 3, get out the scones, clotted cream and cucumber sandwiches.  Step 4, put on ridiculous over-sized hat (think Four Weddings and a Funeral) and voila!   However, to be fully prepared for the big day, the modern mother should be aware of all her viewing options and naturally do as much research as possible. The good news is, no matter what time of day or night you are reading this we guarantee there is a program on at this very minute devoted to some aspect of, or relation to, this wedding.    Anything else you might ever need to know can be found on the Official Royal Wedding web site.  Finally, if you are not one of the 12 million people who has already viewed the T-Mobile Wedding Video - enjoy! 

photo courtesy of Mirror

Weekend Watercolors

Having dropped the ball on our usual Friday Frivolity, we decided to post these original watercolors and prints by Nakisha Elsje VanderHoeven for our readers to enjoy over the weekend. These and many more are available on her Etsy store, Blue Dog Rose. No, we don't know Ms. VanderHoeven or even remember how we stumbled across her work, but we feel certain these sweet illustrations will help put most modern mothers in the mood for spring and for Easter, even in places where it's 40 degrees and raining.

The Minivan Driver Doth Protest Too Much

Sooner or later a modern mother living in the suburbs will have to confront a transportation problem.  Whether she has 1 or 2 children and wants to carpool, or has 3 or more children, she will need a car that can accommodate all those little bodies, not to mention car seats. Since this change requires a substantial increase in car size, the transportation transition can be, well, alarming. Driving something the size of a small school bus, a mother may no longer feel spontaneous and mobile, ready to zip off to Burning Man at a moment’s notice. Understandably so.

And yet, there are a few among us who become enamored of their motoring behemoths. And none so vocal as the minivan evangelists. (Shall we call them minvangelists?) The minivangelist proclaims the minivan’s virtues with a fervor typically reserved for cleanse diets, dermatological products, and Mini Boden.  It’s so much easier to get everyone loaded up! No seats to tilt, no one has to climb over! ….The automatic doors are amazing! …When it’s raining, I can just roam around inside the car, buckling everyone up!

These claims are unassailably true, but they don’t negate the fact that the minivan is pretty much the vehicular equivalent of wearing sweats every day. (So convenient! no zippers or buttons required!) So it's really no surprise that the minivan remains the butt of countless jokes about parenthood, a symbol of middle-age, an icon of suburban compromise.

All of which leads this minivan-driving mother to wonder if the minivangelists doth protest too much. By extolling the minivan’s virtues so insistently, might they lose some credibility? Might they be compensating for their own ambiguous feelings about their vehicle of choice? We probably don't need to re-read Hamlet to answer that one.

Perhaps “minivaneglism” is just one of the stages one must go through on the road of large-car motherhood. It comes after denial: We can totally squeeze 3 car seats across the back of the Prius. Thankfully, the end stage must be one of acceptance, as in, yes, I might be driving a minivan covered in stickers and snack crumbs, but I am totally and completely comfortable with who I am. With such self-confidence, who’s to say modern mothers can’t do more than just drive the minivan? Perhaps she can even rock the minivan. (Hat tip to Sarah Maizes.) Only, she'll know she's the one who is fabulous, not the minivan.

* photo from, and minivan T-shirts available on

Friend or facebook Friend?

When the well mannered modern mother first "joined" facebook she might have been mystified by those people from her past or present clamoring to be her "friend."  Some of those people she may barely remember or, in truth, barely know now.  Someone more facebook savvy than she might have needed to explain to her that in facebook world "friend" means: anyone I have ever know/anyone who knows someone I know/anyone I would like to know/as well as the traditional definition of friend. In some cases she might even conjecture that some facebook users are following the old adage "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

She might have also been surprised by the blatant disregard for the feeling of others that is often exhibited on facebook - one assumes in the haste to share one's fabulosity with the larger world rather than out of pure malice.  For example, she might be made uncomfortable watching one old college chum post countless photos and vignettes about her wonderful visit to city X only to read the cheery but obviously hurt comment from another old college chum who lives in city X say "looks like fun, hope you will call next time you are in town..."  Or she may have watched another scenario play out where "friend" A has declined an invitation from "friend" B with an artificial excuse only to then go and post photos of the party she herself threw that same evening to which (sadly) "friend" B was not invited.  The examples of such thoughtlessness, as you know dear reader,  are infinite.

Now of course the well mannered modern mother can not include everyone in her rolodex all the time nor should she try.  But she should know the difference in her own life between a facebook friend and a real friend and try to take the feeling of those people into account when possible.  And who know, maybe, if people spent just a few more minutes thinking before posting the social network would be a slightly more civil place.

Friday Frivolity - Madras McCarthyism?

While it is never polite to discuss politics, there comes a time when even the mostly mannerly must stand up against modern day McCarthyism.   And when the lunatic fringe accuses classic retailer J. Crew of subversive, trans-gender promoting propaganda that time is now.  If you missed the email or the ensuing internet hubbub here is the "story" as told by late-night radical Jon Stewart. 

P.S. Anyone know what's going on in Libya?

Color Me Hyper?

A nutritionally conscious modern mother will no doubt be aware of recent media chatter surrounding artificial food colorings. The FDA recently convened a panel to look at artificial food colorings and their potential role in behavioral problems in children. What did the panel of experts recommend? More research.
This modern mother is hardly on the vanguard of nutritional correctness and has been known, in a pinch, to serve her children artificially orange mac and cheese or sometimes permit the consumption of blue cotton candy. (Gag.) Yet, she can’t help but wonder, do we really need to spend millions of dollars on this? Do we need a mountain of research telling us that something leads to asthma, or obesity, or hyperactivity, or grotesque warts before we decide to avoid it?
Here is where we might want to review a few facts:  (1) artificial colorings are derived from petroleum; (2) though science has not conclusively shown them to be linked to adverse health effects, they add no nutritional value; (3) they do not change or enhance the flavor of food. So, what is the upside? The value of these colorings lies in their ability to make mediocre food more appealing; the winner is not those who are duped into ingesting FD&C Yellow No. 6, but the companies who use food colorings to sell their processed products.

We shouldn’t need the government to ban artificial food colorings; we should all just have the common sense to avoid them. Imagine a world where we collectively said no. The FDA could save its research money for some thing else. (Maybe they could work on approving some life saving drugs?) Seeing no demand for chemically colored foodstuffs, food industry would see no reason to make them and could send their research staff scurrying off to invent new “food products” to entice the American consumer.  And we wouldn’t have to read another news story about it. 

Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are able to stock entire grocery stores with a panoply of products while eschewing artificial food coloring, shouldn’t we be able to kit out our kitchens? Maybe our gummy bears and jelly beans would glow a little less brightly, but no doubt we would all adjust.  Think perspective, and be strong as the time for Easter candy approaches. 

P.S. To anyone who might claim that Cheetos without artificial orange don’t taste good, can we suggest they try a sample of Pirate's Booty?  

* photo from the fabulous food blog, Out Best Bites

Friday Frivolity - Sometimes Less is just Less

The length of a woman's skirt is hardly news.  And in these times when all things are relative perhaps it is best to let the wearer decide (then go home and tell your daughter how things really are).  But this modern mother can't help but notice that while the maxi looks ridiculous on most of us and is far from flattering; there comes a point when one might want to rethink the length of her hem.  It is not that women over 35 are not fantastically attractive - it is just that at a 'certain age' one's beauty, allure, and elegance might be enhanced by a hem a few inches closer to the knee

photo from Mini

People Say the Darndest Things... especially to Mothers

The recent Lives column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Terrible Twins describes one of the universal truths of motherhood: People say the darndest things to pregnant ladies. In the essay, writer Samantha Hunt enumerates negative reactions she received when expecting twins: people wrinkled their noses, said, "really?" and "better you than me." While Ms. Hunt blames these comments on the fact that she was expecting multiples, most modern mothers have all been there.

Expecting another child 14 months after the birth of your first? Be prepared for impertinent questions regarding (a) your religious background, or (b) your knowledge of the logistics of procreation. Expecting your third son? Be prepared for condolences. Pregnancy bump too large? Not large enough? Whatever the situation, it seems the expectant mother is destined to receive comments and questions that may seem offensive, judgmental, callous, and more.

But, here's the thing: 99% of these comments are not meant to offend. They are usually awkward or unsuccessful attempts at small talk or humor. So, there's not much use in getting worked up about it. An expectant mother who hears zingers like, "So, was this planned?" is hardly unique. Hopefully, Ms. Hunt has learned that by now.

And, since we all know the clueless comments don't stop when the baby is born, an expectant mother might consider her pregnancy as training for all the many loaded questions and comments she will receive as a mother : Cloth or disposable, bottle or breast? Do you work? Time outs or logical consequences? Sign up for travel team or forgo organized sports? Do you let your sitter drive your children? Sneaker sucker or excellent mother? 

Friday Frivolity - Paperless Magazines

Do you know LONNY and Matchbook?  They are two fun and funky paperless magazines.  LONNY is brought to you by a former editor of now tragically defunct Domino (arguably the best decor magazine ever) and Matchbook comes from decorator Katie Armour and graphic designer Jane Lilly Warren.  Both magazines are visually appealing and have substantive content.  The full screen, flip-like-a-traditional-magazine feature almost makes you forget you are looking at a screen.  It isn't exactly the same, we grant you, as sitting in a cozy chair with your magazine and hot cup of tea, but it is a different sort of fun.  Not exactly relaxing and dreaming fun- more of a hunt and peck kind of fun.  Because did we mention the instant gratification to be had when one sees the perfect ottoman/kaftan/cocktail shaker scrolls over it and clicks through to the vendor where poof it can be yours with the input of a credit card number?  Brilliant.  Marketing genius.   Have a look and let us know what you think.  Happy Friday.

graphic from Matchbook
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