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…)
My brood has given me some pretty memorable Mother’s Day gifts over the years. I’ve been lavished with breakfasts in bed, flowers, jewelry and (most treasured of all) the drawings, poems and handprint crafts that make my heart swell to this day.
But the kids are growing up and, though it pains me to admit it, their finger paint days are behind them. So this year, they and their dad have planned something super special just for me.
My guys know that one of my absolute favorite pastimes is watching movies. Before the kids came along, my husband and I went at least once a week. Motherhood has severely curbed my movie habit. For more than a decade I’ve mostly been relegated to (heavily interrupted) DVD viewings in the family room. (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…)
Growing up, we spent every Easter with our cousins. The night before, we kids would pile onto the floor of our grandparents’ bedroom and compare notes about what the Easter Bunny might bring. Unlike Santa, the Bunny didn’t require us to be good all year, so we drifted off to sleep happily confident he’d deliver unconditionally.
Come Easter morning, we’d race down the stairs and dive in to our baskets, which we found displayed like treasure on the dining room table. We had to get there before the grownups woke. This gave us time to sample the goods and make any necessary adjustments, such as swapping my black jelly beans for somebody else’s purples.
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.
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!
One of the things I love best about my friends and neighbors is what gracious hosts they are. All year, my family and I are welcomed at picnics, barbeques, bonfires, dinners—and, of course, a dizzying round of fabulous holiday parties.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be celebrating at casual cocktails, a family tree-trimming soiree, two open houses and a sit-down dinner. And that’s all before the New Year’s Eve festivities.
As you can imagine, my annual roster of hostess gifts has come to look a lot like Santa’s “Nice List.” Unfortunately, I don’t have a team of elves at my disposal. I had to whip up some fantastic gifts that say “thank you for your hospitality” without blowing my holiday budget. More than that, I wanted to bring my hosts something unique and personal that also added to the party. (more…)
When I was a child, December was the longest month of the year. The weeks following Thanksgiving stretched on forever…as every night we opened a tiny door on the Advent calendar to mark yet another day of inching toward Christmas.
How things have changed! Today we’re barely up from our post-turkey naps when everybody’s back in the crazy swing of their busy lives. In this house, Thanksgiving weekend brought a road race, two football games, a baseball clinic and six play dates.
It was time to slow down. I wanted my family together in one place, decking our halls, writing Christmas cards and — yes! — even asking me over and over if Christmas was ever going to come. My kids deserved to share the delicious anticipation I had as a child, and the careful preparations that meant Christmas was on the way.
One of the wonders of the holiday season, however you celebrate it, is the set of traditions you share with family and friends. Whether they’re drawn from your heritage; your cultural and religious beliefs; or your community, these rituals are as unique and varied as you. They help make you who you are today, and build the memories you’ll cherish for years to come. (more…)