Family Values

Hawaii 5-0

January 7th, 2014 : No Comments »

Michelle Obama

I find it amusing that President Obama’s 50th birthday ‘gift’ to Michelle was to leave her behind in Hawaii with friends, while he high-tailed it back to DC with Malia and Sasha.

Since this is exactly what Brad and the twins probably wish they had given me for Christmas, I know what President Obama and the girls likely had in mind: leave the b. at the beach and enjoy two weeks of peace and quiet while mom recovers from her holiday insanity.

Of course, I may unfairly be ascribing my own holiday madness to Michelle, but the Post also reported today that Mrs. Obama’s 50th birthday party invitations for later this month came with the instruction to guests ‘to eat dinner before you come.’

Now if that doesn’t sound like someone who’s had it with having to feed, fete and generally cater to other people’s needs, I don’t know what does.

Anyone else have an idea why the Obamas aren’t willing to spring for dinner when it comes to celebrating Michelle’s big 5-0?


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Posted in Current Affairs, DC, DC Diary, Domestic Bliss, Family Values, Politics, Politics and Propane

Is the new slow cooker really an old crock?

January 8th, 2014 : No Comments »


I wonder how many other mature adults have been lured by the simplicity of the “new” slow cooker? Shiny stainless steel and updated recipes sent me over the moon for mine. I immediately prepared chorizo stew, asparagus risotto and asian short ribs before deciding to conquer asian pho. My teen son and four friends feasted happily on my hours long concoction. I was feeling rather ebullient and even a little smug– who needs Pho 14 now bitches? When bragging about this accomplishment to a native east coast neighbor, however, my bubble was promptly burst. I was reminded that no one outside of the midwest considers any form of slow cooking virtuous, tasty or chic. I snapped a photo of my soup and a picture of my beautiful pot and was rewarded with the query, “Was that passed down from your midwestern grandmother?” After reassuring myself the relationship could be spared, and deleting said neighbor from my contact list, I retired to my bed to finish the quilt I am making for a baby shower. If only I could shake the feeling that you can take a girl out of the midwest but never a crock pot from her hands. I worry that I will soon be told my cookie exchange parties are a sign of age (and midwestern heritage) too. Ah well, perhaps curmudgeon is trending in DC?


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Posted in DC, DC Diary, Family Values, Food and Drink, Friendly Encounters

Teenage waist management

February 20th, 2014 : No Comments »


Body image and self-esteem seem to be all the rage these days in expert parenting circles. I don’t recall so much of this in the early 80– unless you count my boyfriend’s mother telling me my Laura Ashley dress clearly showed that I had a “tendency” to pack on the pounds and should “start” to be careful. Crushed my mortal soul for sure but did also learn that the small pints of Haagen Dazs I ate at college indeed counted for very real calories no matter how much despair I felt in calculus class.

Now, I suppose, we’d know better than to point out anything with regard to the teenage body and simply hope code words like healthy and fit are enough to suggest our teen not keep a spoon in the half gallon of ice cream in the freezer for instant gratification purposes. I only wonder if in the process of building our kids’ self-esteem, we’ve failed to teach them about the real world. Sure, they see thin models with better clothes than theirs in magazines, but how to account for the cutting remark by their classmate about their “Kardashian sized” booty? Shouldn’t we better prepare them for the idea that there are better ways to manage stress than at the bottom of a bag of those perfect sized mini pitas?

I’m not suggesting, Phoebe, that I have any answers but have found myself wondering as I do my daily squat and bend routine to pick up snack wrappers if I’m doing no one any good (except, perhaps, MY Kardashian sized booty) by keeping quiet. I suppose the experts would say an honest conversation is not a bad idea if it avoids discussion of any current physical qualities and focuses only upon how to be more moderate in many habits. I do think my own “home school” would have to end with the very real lesson: Yes, dear teens, those ice cream calories ingested while standing at the freezer door using the spoon in the cartoon do count. Just look behind you to be sure of it. Thank god for all of us that the Kardashians have made it fashionable, at least.



Read what Phoebe has to say about: Re: Teenage waist management


Posted in DC Diary, Educating the Masses, Family Values, Food and Drink, Motherz in the Hood, Weighty Matters

Miley Cyrus: Bangerz indeed

February 27th, 2014 : No Comments »


Dearest Phoebe,

In the event you were considering allowing the twins to see the Miley Cyrus concert in DC on April 10th, you may want to reconsider. I know our darling Hannah Montana is gone forever but who knew the 21 year old Miley would want to transition from schoolgirl to harlot so quickly? Feigning sexual acts onstage with a replica of a former President seems to move beyond the ambitious young woman’s need to cultivate a new image. Although I’m no prude, I don’t see a reason to parade in front of our tweens with pot leaves as a design feature on a costume (not to mention the $40 souvenir rolling papers available at the show). In addition, her weird fetish with oversized stuffed animals seems likely only to confuse our cherubs into thinking she is still a girl and not a young woman making very adult choices. It’s an altogether inappropriate message for her target market. Unless, of course, she doesn’t want their attention at all. Lucky that as she’s made my decision not to buy overpriced tickets for the show brilliantly simple.



Dear Crystal,

Thank you so much for your stern words of warning. While I am all in favor of young women feeling sexually empowered, and expressing themselves accordingly, it does seem to me that La Cyrus is not so much asserting what she wants as pandering to what she thinks her fans like. But given that I doubt many ageing former Presidents (!) have her on their playlist, and that the average twenty something  male would probably die rather than admit he did, I fear Miley has misjudged her audience. Surely most of them are pubescent and impressionable young girls, who would probably be happier if she went back to being Hannah Montana half the time, even if Miley is rolling gold leaf joints backstage?

Someone needs to inform Miley that being a true rockstar involves actually rebelling against cultural stereotypes, not letting yourself be exploited by them. And whatever you do, especially if it involves updating your image, don’t make it look like you are trying too hard. After all, you only have to look as far as Justin Bieber to realize that going off the rails, and destroying your own tiresomely wholesome image, comes all too easily to most former child stars.

Fortunately, the question of whether or not to take my teenage daughters to her show is moot, since neither of them would be caught dead singing along to one of her songs – unless it’s Best of Both Worlds, which they are still known to reprise in the shower upon occasion, when they think no-one is listening.




Posted in DC, DC Diary, Family Values

Eleven Things I’ve Learned Since Dropping My Kid at College

September 16th, 2015 : 1 Comment »


Dropping my firstborn off at college may have been way harder than I expected, even though I’d been anticipating it all year, but one month on, I’m here to report that the aftermath has been both more heartrending than I anticipated in some ways, but also a pleasant surprise. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1) You will have less laundry, but more leftovers
2) You won’t need to buy as much food at the grocery store, or order as much at restaurants, and this will make you inexplicably sad
3) Their bedroom will look too tidy, so you will need to keep the door closed, to avoid feeling bereft
4) You will send crazy texts reminding them not to stand on balconies at frat parties, and worry about them cycling without a helmet, even though that’s exactly what you did all four years at college, and your parents never said a word
5) You will also send videos of dogs vomiting at the prospect of a new baby in the house, telling yourself it’s a good way to stay in touch, but also because you share the same juvenile sense of humor
6) You will miss them terribly, and yet feel an unfamiliar sense of liberty at having one less family member’s needs to attend to
7) Your daughter will sign up for Catholic mass at the Activities Fair because a stranger offered her candy, and you will fight the urge to tell her not to go
8) Parents at your younger daughter’s Back to School night will look a generation younger, and way too involved in their children’s lives
9) You will resist the urge to tell them it really doesn’t matter where their kids are going to college, so long as they’re happy – not necessarily a given, you know from other parents whose kids have dropped out
10) Your relationship with your kid who’s still at home will get closer and more mature, although you will have to resist the urge to defer to them about every decision, especially related to dinner
11) Your relationship with your husband will get closer, even if it involves being gentler with each other, rather than lots of wild sex (although that may happen too).

Postscript: As I was writing this article, my husband was watching a Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War on TV (I told you he was wild), and I overheard the narrator reading an excerpt from a letter from a mother to her Union soldier son, warning him not to engage in too much card-playing, because she feared that might only lead to gambling. Some things never change.


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Posted in DC, DC Diary, Family Values, Motherz in the Hood, Parenting

The Millennial Menage A Trois at the Doctor’s: Menace or Progress?

October 7th, 2015 : No Comments »


Has anyone else noticed the proliferation of young couples going to the doctor together these days?

Every time I go to see my ob/byn lately, or take my kids to the pediatrician, there will usually be several young couples in the waiting room, either with a visibly pregnant mom-to-be, or a newborn baby in a carseat or stroller beside them. As a generation X-er, I’m fascinated. When did it become de rigueur for couples to show up a deux for medical appointments, requiring at least one if not both parties presumably to take time off work? And just how did this shift in cultural behavior happen? Does today’s equivalent of What to Expect When you are Expecting lecture both parents on the importance of being there for your baby’s every check-up? And what’s next? Grandparents in the delivery room? A family reunion for every flu shot?

If I sound a little bitter, it’s because I am. I’m frankly envious at the sight of these sweet young couples, waiting patiently to see the doctor like they have nothing better to do with their time, as I wish it had actually occurred to me to drag my own husband to at least one of those routine appointments when I was pregnant, or when my girls were young. Having him there would have been a lot less stressful, and way more fun.

I’m also thrilled to see evidence of a palpable shift towards a more equal emphasis on both parents taking responsibility for looking after their children. If having both parents present for medical appointments helps women advance their careers, and men find cultural acceptance for taking time off to care for their kids, that’s GREAT. We’re finally making progress in terms of achieving greater equality in terms of sharing domestic, as well as work roles.

But part of me feels like having two parents present to discuss your newborn’s every bowel movement also seems like overkill, at best, and at worst evidence that as a society we have really let raising children become an all-consuming activity in itself, to the point where I am often left wondering who exactly is left at the office to earn the money needed to raise all these precious children. Are these parents all trust fund babies themselves, or just successful enough in their own dual-income careers to be able to take time out to attend to their little ones?

I’d dearly love to know, only I fear that I have actually aged out of the demographic to know how this arrangement works, or indeed to know any parents with children young enough to ask. If you, dear reader, happen to know the answer to this question, please do advise.


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Posted in Family Values, Parenting

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