My baby girl is turning nine next month, and for her birthday I’m buying her a doll.
It will be her fourth 18-inch doll. Over the past few years, she’s collected one that looks like her; a second that’s a historical character; and a third from a tag sale (who looks better than new because we sent her to the doll hospital for head reattachment after an unfortunate incident one Saturday). The dolls are outrageously overpriced, but I’ve shelled out for them; their companion books; their clothing and accessories; matching outfits for my daughter; and even trips to the doll megastore for doll lunches.
I’m a sucker. I admit it. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
I realize no child needs pricey dolls, much less four of them. But dolls serve an important purpose. For girls—and boys!—doll play provides an opportunity develop empathy and nurturing and serves as an outlet for creativity. Older children can use dolls to work through social situations and develop positive role models. (more…)
Like any mom, I’ve got a long list of all the (mostly wonderful) ways my kids have changed my life. And one of the biggies is how my husband and I spend New Year’s Eve.
To be fair, we set the bar pretty high: we rung in our first married New Year from our honeymoon on a beach in Antigua. And while neither of us is a Times Square-style reveler, we always enjoyed celebrating with parties, overnight getaways or late dinners with friends.
All that changed, of course, with the arrival of our firstborn. By the time we felt comfortable leaving him past midnight with a sitter, another baby was on the way. And then one more. Fast forward a few years: our children are a little older, and we’re no longer sleep-deprived zombies. We’re ready, willing and up for some New Year’s fun….and there’s not a babysitter to be had at any price. Apparently they’re all out whooping it up like we used to.
And so, we’ve built new, kid-friendly traditions to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Typically we all venture out in the afternoon to catch one of the blockbuster holiday movie releases. Then we challenge one another to a savagely competitive match of laser tag or maybe bowling. The prize: bragging rights for the whole year. (more…)
I don’t know who coined the term “sleepover,” but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a parent.
Ask anybody with elementary and middle school offspring, and they’ll tell you that sleeping is probably the last thing going on at these shindigs. Just last month, my thirteen-year-old had his buddy here overnight; the next day my poor kid fell asleep at his sister’s basketball game. In the bleachers. Sitting up.
Suffice it to say, I’m not a huge fan. But my kids adore their sleepovers. And I know they serve an important purpose. In fact, I recently read an article in The Wall Street Journal praising sleepovers, claiming these overnights give today’s overscheduled kids much-needed downtime to simply hang out with friends. Sleepovers also cement relationships and foster creativity. Yes, my kids play video games, but I’ve also seen them use sleepovers to break out the blocks and board games, and build monster furniture forts—all things they don’t have time to do in our daily shuttle to school, sports and activities. Best of all, sleepovers give moms and dads the chance to meet—and get to know—our children’s friends. (more…)
My brackets are busted.
A couple of upsets and I’ve now got zero shot at this year’s NCAA pool jackpot. But being out of the money isn’t so bad; I still get to watch the hoop dreams unfold with my friends, many of whose teams are still hanging in.
In a sports world defined by lockouts, salary caps, endorsement deals and trade deadlines, the NCAA basketball tourney is a breath of fresh air. Most of these kids aren’t going pro—they’re playing for the love of the game. They’re taking their best shots, and it’s a delight to see. Best of all, the tournament is a great excuse to shake off the dregs of winter and gather with friends to watch and wager.
My buddy Andy is the Grand Master of March Madness. For the past 20 years, he has scheduled his annual “TV Vacation” just in time for the Sweet Sixteen playoffs. He and his pals gather at his place for a day-long marathon of food, drink and basketball on the giant flat screen. Over the years I’ve seen people come early…come late…come with spouses, children, neighbors and even work colleagues in tow…but they all show up for this can’t-miss party. And everyone brings food, typically of the frat house variety.
Since way back in college, the annual award shows were always a great excuse for a party. My friends and I would haul out our formal dresses, brave the frosty Chicago night and travel across the quad to the dorm with the big TV and comfy couches. We’d spend the evening cheering on our favorite films and performers and reviewing the actresses’ hair, makeup and—most importantly!—gowns.
Two decades later, award show season still excites me. I’m a dedicated movie buff, and delight in making my own picks and predictions for the big night. My besties and I get a huge thrill out of gathering in front of the big screen for an evening of glitz, glamour and some friendly competition as we applaud our faves and compare our picks. And, of course, there are still the gowns to critique!
After almost two decades with my husband, it’s finally happened: I’ve learned to enjoy watching football. Maybe it’s the fact that our kids are so into it, or perhaps that I always know where to find my man on Sunday afternoons (and Monday and Thursday nights) but I am no longer a wailing football widow. I’ve made my peace with the fact that, in this house, we are fans.
And so, as Big Game Day approaches, we prepare. This year, my husband will be hosting five of his cronies from the office where we met back in the 90s. Most of these guys are settled with families and ready for an evening out; a couple others are clinging hard the single life and are coming for free beer and hot food. Either way, they’re headed for my couch, and they’re going to be hungry. And these boys can eat. Years back, I was out with them for 10 cent wing night at a local watering hole. For six of them, the bill was $30. Do that math!
At our house, Christmas is all about the kids. Crazy colored lights, stockings stuffed with treats, milk and cookies left out for Santa…and wrapping paper everywhere! Truth be told, my husband and I are the two biggest kids in the family—we absolutely love seeing the holiday through our children’s eyes.
But moving into the new year, the two of us are definitely ready for a little adult time. Every year after the holidays are over, we make it a priority to enjoy a few kid-free evenings with friends. We regroup, relax and remember what it means to be a grownup. So whether we’re hosting a dinner party or just gathering for cocktails and appetizers, the mood—and the menu—gets a little more sophisticated.
This year, as I shimmy into my sequined black dress, I’m going to outfit one of my favorite snacks—popcorn—in a black sesame mustard blend that is equally stylish. Not only do the sesame seeds add drama to my presentation, they also deliver a distinctive earthy, nutty flavor that perks up the palate. That’s why they’ve gone from being a trendy garnish to a staple in fine restaurants and kitchens everywhere. (more…)