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Hooptedoodle

What, no shoes? November 20, 2008

clover.jpgAs a special treat for my daughter last week, I took her to the mecca of fur-tastic capitalism for the under 10 set…Build A Bear. Actually, to be specific, Friends 2 Be Made (their doll division).  We were on a hunt for the elusive Jayden, a celery hair fashion doll. Now, I am not completely altruistic in my motives, I am tired of hearing “I have to have it in order to have the Gem Band with my purple, pink, blue and orange jammin’ jewel dolls…plleease.”

 So, to get you “in” the doll only costs twelve dollars. Big deal right? Totally do-able, I mean twelve dollars, you can’t even get a Barbie for that much. Then they up-sell you on the extras that your doll simply must have to live a fabulous life. Being a savvy customer, I am wise to their ploys. Between my own guilt purchases, and grandparent’s sprees we could probably host a decent table at a collectors show. We walk into the bubble gum pink and candy blue store. Hannah Montana is playing softly, and the store looks like daylight on a 1000 watt binge.  I steel myself for the saccharine doll salesmen pitch from the teenage doll-ologist.

Bring on your best….we are only getting the doll.

My daughter be-lines for green yarn hair. She knows what she wants…five trees have been chopped down to make the promo mailers featuring “Jayden” that flood our mailbox alone. “Her Perkiness” bounces up to us and asks my daughter what her doll sounds like. My daughter looks up at me, I stand firm. No way! I know this trick, I am not buying the five dollar voice box that sounds like Cheerleader Chuckie when the batteries start dying in a month. Her perkiness looks a little miffed when I say:

 “She doesn’t need one.”

“All jammin’ jewel girls need a voice!” reproof from a teen queen.

I let this slide. It is after all, supposed to be a happy day for my daughter, not a lecture in the cold reality of the world. Her perkiness starts in on the ritual of endowing the doll with attributes like artistic, talented, responsible and my favorite … superstar. She hands my daughter a satin taffeta heart and commands her to rub in on her tummy so the doll will never hunger, rub it on her brain so the doll can be brilliant like she, kiss it to let the doll know she is always loved…and on…and on. Finally, she stuffs the darn thing, and we can go onto the all important wardrobing.

I have already given into my daughter’s protest that you can’t bring home a naked doll. Why not? was my argument. The minute you get it home the clothes come off anyways, I am saving you time and me money. I concede though, but not the expensive one…. the outfit that cost more than the doll. We pick through the possibilities, it takes an hour. The doll has more clothes in her wardrobe than I have owned in my entire life.

Her perkiness has now turned into a personal shopper for our new acquisition, newly dubbed Clover. She trots out Lycra, satin, bags, glasses, dresses for cocktail and for the prom, karate Gui’s and soccer outfits so that Clover can be a well rounded girl. I glare at her. No I don’t think we need the Lycra rock star suit, and we don’t do karate. I find a cute little green satin shirt and capri’s. Feeling a little cheap under the accusatory eye of her perkiness, I turn my back to check out the price tags. I breathe a sigh of relief, we can still get out of there for under $30. As long as I can talk my daughter into it.

My winner argument…if we pick this outfit out, maybe we can find you one to match.

Bingo! We negotiate. She now likes the outfit, but really wants the shoes and guitar that matches the rock star outfit. She barters like a trial lawyer. 

“No shoes”

“But mom” 

I find myself almost agreeing to the plastic guitar that does nothing, not even make a noise. Even Happy Meal toys make noise… I am sticking to my guns.

“But mom”

“No way! You always lose them 10 minutes after we get home, and all your other dolls have never worn their shoes past the parking lot.”

“Mommy, pllleeeease.” Blink, blink.

“Guitar or shoes….not both,” did I just say that?

“Guitar”

I smile. We hug. Relieved that I have won the battle…I think… at least stood some ground. I go up to the register, and look around for her perkiness. She has given up on us long ago. We obviously are not her kind of customer.

She bops up, ignoring me…the one with the credit card…and hands my daughter a “special invite” for Bella Blue’s Birthday party. She is the blue yarn head doll. “You get to sign a big birthday card to her, and even get a special gift if you come!”  

Recognizing me…finally… she tells me that there is even a special party dress for the doll we can buy, only twelve dollars. My arm starts hurting from the entire 60 pounds of my daughter pulling on it….”Pllleeeease.”

“Just the doll today.” I hand her my card decisively. I won!

Her perkiness looks into the box, and looks up at me with a horrified expression…as if I have abused the poor doll.

“Is there something wrong?”

“What,” she says disgusted. “No shoes?”

We finally escape. I feel like a bad doll mom. I let the poor piece of material stuffed with fluff leave the store without shoes on. What will all the other doll moms think of me?

My daughter looks at me, what about her outfit? She always remembers that stuff. The stuff that I say hoping she will forget it. But I won, so I am filled with largess. I steer her into the kids gap. We found this great shirt and capris to match…on sale…twelve dollars. I am euphoric. My daughter thinks I am a great mom.

We get up to pay.

“You know, we have great shoes that match this.”

…says her perkiness 2.

 

Just Go Naked April 17, 2008

Well, now that I have your attention…(I feel the click counter go up even now)….

I don’t get 20 somethings anymore. I always wondered when the disconnect would happen, and here I sit…memorializing the moment. My husband refers to the realization of aging as “going to the dark side”. Okay, so I am not old…this year I turned 34. (I hear the collective cyber-groan around me… you know who you are.)

The pull of the “dark side” started two weeks ago on spring break…

One of my childhood friends brought her three sons and ….gulp…. nanny (sorry, Personal Assistant) to a beach house we rented for the week. Her PA, a lovely young woman… I mean, really lovely…. was cold on our little tromp down the jetty. Having nothing at her disposal, save her 5 year old charge’s sweatshirt… she did what I imagine all 100 lb nannies CAN do…. slid her arms into it and zipped it up. It made for a charming bolero gap sweatshirt.

My husbands eyes popped out… not in a lewd way, but in the shock and disbelief the feat deserved. If Jude Law’s nanny can do that, well, no wonder….

“It’s a good way to save money, children’s clothes are so much cheaper…” says she.

…funny, as a mom, I think kids clothing prices are outrageous…and refuse to spend more on their t-shirts than what my wedding dress cost.

…but, as usual, I digress…

the second slash of the light saber came two nights ago. I, as most writers are, am an insomniac…(I used to say night owl…but now that I am over thirty… it is called insomnia)  Up late… can’t look at the sentence I have rewritten 50 times again…flip on the television…and am treated to a “Retrospective of Spring Break.”

Holy cow…have you seen what goes on these days? Gone are the simple great legs and bikini contests your parent’s warned you about. No kidding if the “g-string margarita wrestlers” and “who can rip each others clothes off the fastest” contests don’t make it for you, how about the “best simulated sex” and who has the “best make out with a complete stranger” competition should convince you that….we are missing a link somewhere…

I began channeling my parents…. Not in a million years will my daughter (or son) be allowed to wear a swim suit that looks like strings and quarters… go on Spring Break anywhere near sand… and none of that…. “staying at college to study”. I am wise to that….

“But mom, I love it in the dorms so much, how can I leave…”

“But mom, we’re just going to Disneyworld in Florida…honest.”

So to combat we go. My kids are 5 and 7, perfect ages to start a full on assault. My husband and I devise a gameplan… Spring Break is family vacation time. Later, if our kids refuse to go on vacation with us….it will be the perfect opportunity to visit them.

“Oh honey, we won’t hang out all day with you…we will just take in the sights… and then we can all have dinner together each night. And then…on the weekend…you can show us all your favorite places. Don’t worry, you stay at the dorm you love so much, and we will stay at that great (insert favorite swanky hotel here) down the street.”

Since we have a few years to perfect this battle plan… here is my thoughts for those who fall under the above category… now…

just go naked already…okay?  Why bother buying scraps of clothes at all. You might as well enjoy showing off those quarter bouncing abs and barbie boobs while everything is in it’s anatomically correct place.

You can use the money you save to pay off your college loans…

the national debt….

enjoy it while you can…

gravity is the great equalizer of all!

Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polk-a-dot Bikini by Patsy Briscoe

 

 

 

 

Write Tool of the Week March 30, 2008

3 x 5 Card Bleachers - Index Card Organizer, 3 x 5 Card Organizer, Holder

If you are a writer, you MUST see the fantastic tools at Levenger (www.levenger.com). Their claim to fame is providing tools for serious readers, however I have found some great tools for serious writers as well. My favorite is their 3×5 index card wooden bleachers. Most writers I know use 3×5 cards as a staple for productive storyboarding. They are easy to write on, small enough to port around and make us look like we are actually accomplishing something. I had two big challenges with the cards (Other than writing to much on them). I would pin or (gasp) tape them to the wall beside my computer. My wonderful husband did not like the new wall decor, no matter how festive the neon bright paper was…or how productive it made me appear. My second challenge was, once attached to the wall, it was difficult to move plot points around and even worse try to detach them for a trip…(scotch tape…not pretty on painted walls) I stumbled across the answer to all my problems, Levenger’s Bleachers and 3×5 cards. The bleacher is made from high quality wood in two colors (dark and light cherry), is stylish and has storage in the back for extra cards and pens. I can easily tote it around. If I could suggest anything to Levenger it would be a carrying case to protect the wood, because mine shows the battle scars of travel. I am thinking of buying another so I have one that moves and another that looks pretty on my desk.

Storyboarding on it is a breeze. I can organize the cards on different levels or dedicate one of the six levels for each thread. I can keep everything about the character I am working on up, and follow their logline. I like the tactile feeling of moving the cards, more concrete than cyberspace. How you use it is up to you! I purchased their blank window 3×5 cards. They are pricier than the office supply stores, but I like the heavier quality and ultra bright white color of their cards. I found it easy to customize my character, plot and setting card templates onto them. They also printed through my ink jet without a problem. Levenger has also created organizers, file folders and storage boxes that provide no-brainer organization to the vast amounts of cards that I produce. My biggest challenge is trying to talk my kids out of using up my stock, they love the cards too.

Levenger has great customer service and easy on line ordering from their well designed website. They also have a great catalog that I enjoy thumbing through and drooling over. If you are a writer and share an appreciation for fabulous supplies…this is the place for you… www.levenger.com

If you end up trying this out, let me know what you think!

 

Mr. Piano Man March 18, 2008

Filed under: art,children,Culture,family,humor,life,shopping — writetools @ 4:07 am
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I live in a mid size, Southern California hamlet whose motto should read “Kid’s Rule.” As a parent, it is a great place to raise children…a bit intense, bordering on Stepford….but for a kid it’s one step away from nirvana. It is with this framework in mind, I ask you, what would you do?

First, a little background. To the horror of the So-Cal SMS (Suburban Mom Syndicate), I have decided to teach my children to play the piano…myself. I grew up playing, and am not without skills. However, to the Mommies support group who hold counsel at our local park, the thought of my bucking tradition (tradition is to hire a team of competent professionals to mold your progeny) is “cute”.  Their french tips tap as they seriously caucus over this break in parenting protocol.

“You know, Amber London Kate only takes lessons from Mr. Pianoman. He really gets that kids M-U-S-T must learn proper fingering.” she bends into tree pose. “If they don’t learn to hold their fingers correctly, then why bother even getting them lessons. I mean, maybe if they only want to play at Nordstroms.”

“Oh,” I ask, “do you play?”

“Well I own a Yamaha baby grand, it looks so cute in my living room. My designer Heath picked out the mahogany one, because everyone has black.”

Which tells me she can’t even play chopsticks.

“You should go to the Yamaha store and talk to Mr. Pianoman.” Can you sound reverent and superior at the same time? “He is the only one I would trust.” 

I have decided it would be cheaper to send my children to Julliard. With compound interest on what I would pay Mr. Pianoman, I can at least make it through their junior year.

My mantra, I will not cave to BMS (Burb’s Mommie Syndrom). I will not drink the kool-aid. Definition of BMS: the belief that a well rounded child must play like Mozart, translate Proust, solve quantum equations, be on the Olympic track in (pick whatever sport costs the most) and have their first gallery showing by eight.

I pile the kids into my gas efficient domestic, and drive to see Mr. Piano Man. We walk into the store and I bee-line to the piano primer books. It was like navigating Barnes and Noble. I look for help.

And there he was… the Piano Man. I was schlepping, I admit it. I had on my ball cap, rainbows, and cargos…. but hey, he has a comb over. Evidently, I didn’t deserve help from Maestro. I gather up some books and head to his desk. I wait, and wait…wishing now I had sprung for a manicure, so I could tap my french tips.  Seeing that I am not going to leave, he peers at me.

“Which book would you recommend as a basic piano primer.”

“Who teaches them?” a slight flicker of interest.

“I am going to.”

Superior sneer. “Oh…I see. Can you play?”

I blink. Really? Why would I try to teach something I can’t do. The door bell chimes from across the room. Through the windows I see a mom dragging her kids out of a black Denali. As her Manolo heels click across the marble floor, Maestro leaps like a gazelle to help her.

Suddenly, he stops mid stride and bellows. “Who is playing the piano?” I hear nothing.

Finally, I hear a quiet tinkle coming from the corner. A tinkle mind you, not a pound, not a slap….a tinkle. As he begins striding toward it, I see a shoe… dangling from a bench. I know that shoe.

“Oh. that’s my son.” I say proudly.

“Does he know how to play?”

I guess chopsticks doesn’t count. I look at the primer books in my hand. He looks at the primer books in my hand, level 1.

“That’s a 30,000 dollar piano. You need to leave and take him out of here.”

I look at the cheap Yamaha Chinese knock off. It is not 30 grand. He sneers. I raise my chin and stare him down…then snort with as much queenly air as my ball cap can muster.  “So I guess you don’t want my business then.”

“Not if it is going to ruin my piano.”

“To bad, because that is the model I was looking at buying.” I lied. I wouldn’t buy that cheap knock off.

He turned away, back to Mrs. Manolo’s.

I grab my children. Never will I darken those doors. I am calling Yamaha, I am calling the Chamber, I am calling my SMS. I hear a click on the marble and a rush of kids running past.

“But Mrs. Manolo’s, I didn’t mean YOUR children.”

“Evidently, you don’t know what kind of town you work in. We are child friendly here. You must not need the business… and it was a tinkle.”

Wow! I look at her. She blinds me her zoom whitened smile. “We moms need to stick together,” she says sliding into kid leather seats.

Evidently she must think I drank the kool-aid.

So, here is where you come in. Revenge….a dish best served cold. I am thinking of borrowing my brother-in-law’s convertible BMW, and sliding out of it in my Manolo’s and Armani. I am sure that Piano boy won’t recognize me. I am thinking of sitting at the real 30 grand piano, and playing him my first concerto. Ohhh, he will be so impressed. I will knock him over with my piano knowledge, and generally waste and hour or two of his time. Maybe I could borrow Heath for the day. I will sit in his pleather chairs, and decide to purchase it. Shocked, effusive, imaging the new car he will buy… I will start to hand over my credit card (To bad it’s not a black one…for true shock value) and then stop. I will look at him, as if trying to remember a distant memory….and as he grabs for my card…I will say. “I remember you now. Last week, you did not want my business. You wouldn’t let my son tinkle on your cheap, Chinese knock off piano and told us to leave. Then turn on heel, walk out,  and slide into my borrowed kid leather seats….

…hmmm….would it be so wrong? Accepting all comments…..

 

 
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