10/31/14

Things to Do - Cherish This Day, The Stories We Tell, and Random Links

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

This week for Cherish This Day & The Stories We Tell we're posting costume photos. Since I still don't have pictures of the kids in this year's Halloween assembles, I went through my archives for some old favorites. Doesn't T look so little?

Now click on over to Cherish This Day & The Stories We Tell to see this week's photos - lots of fabulousness today (and, yes, according to Urban dictionary fabulousness is a word; albeit a debatable one).

RANDOM LINKS:

* If you live in the DC area and are looking for something fun to do tonight, this Chinese acrobat performance looks amazing. There will be candy, toys, a photo booth with props, and children are encouraged to attend in costume. Also, the venue is offering half-price tickets for all children up to grade 12 on Halloween night.

* Room 3201 - I love this series of photos.

* These gluten-free, vegan donuts look yummy (really).

* "Adelaide, born in Brazil in 1921, bore sixteen children, fourteen of whom lived into adulthood," Ellyn Ruddick-Sunstein explained on Feature Shoot. "After the bankruptcy of her husband’s grocery business, she supported her children by selling cakes. In her old age, it has become difficult to walk, and she no longer practices yoga. Her days are spent sewing and reading. She enjoys crossword puzzles."

* Each one just gets better and better.

10/30/14

Things to Read - Seven Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on The Right to Be Forgotten, Concealing Pregnancy, Adolescence, Slow TV, Life Off the Grid, Harvard Schmarvard, & A Story With A Bird)

1. (The Right to Be Forgotten) - European courts have recently recognized an individual's right to "prohibit Google from linking to items that [are] “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.Jeffrey Toobin, writing for the New Yorker, analyzes possible consequences.

"Michael Fertik, the founder of Reputation.com, also supports the existence of a right to be forgotten that is enforceable against Google. “This is not about free speech; it’s about privacy and dignity,” he told me. “For the first time, dignity will get the same treatment in law as copyright and trademark do in America. If Sony or Disney wants fifty thousand videos removed from YouTube, Google removes them with no questions asked. If your daughter is caught kissing someone on a cell-phone home video, you have no option of getting it down. That’s wrong. The priorities are backward.”
. . . .

“Many countries are now starting to say that they want rules for the Internet that respond to their own local laws,” Jennifer Granick, of Stanford, said. “It marks the beginning of the end of the global Internet, where everyone has access to the same information, and the beginning of an Internet where there are national networks, where decisions by governments dictate which information people get access to. The Internet as a whole is being Balkanized, and Europeans are going to have a very different access to information than we have.”
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2. (Concealing Pregnancy) - Abigail Rasminsky asks the question, "when a woman conceals the first trimester of her pregnancy, who is she trying to protect?"

But after spending many years mourning the two babies she lost, my mother had other advice too: “Tell as many people as you like. Tell them now.” “If something does go wrong,” she told me, “you’re going to need your friends. You’re not going to want to lie about how you’re feeling to everyone in your life.”

. . . .

I wonder whose anxiety we’re trying to protect in concealing these first few difficult months. Is this supposed to be for my sake? Are we trying to protect me from the embarrassment of admitting that I can’t go 45 minutes without eating and am gaining weight at a rapid clip? That I spend most of the day crying and moaning on the couch, Alicia Florrick my fictional companion? That I’m afraid of losing the pregnancy but can’t fathom that this debilitating state of being has anything to do with an actual baby? Are we really trying to save me from having to share the news if I have a miscarriage? Or are we trying to protect our culture from admitting that not all pregnancies are beautiful and easy and make it to term, and that the loss can be absolutely devastating?

. . . .

The most alarming thing I’ve heard from friends who’ve had miscarriages is their surprise (only upon miscarrying) at hearing about how many of their friends, aunts, cousins, sisters, mothers and grandmothers have had them, too. If miscarriages are so common, why do we hide them behind a wall of shame and silence? If women could announce their pregnancies immediately, wouldn’t we learn that a pregnancy is truly awesome and terrifying and precarious and unknown — that anything can and does happen, and that women deserve all the love and support and understanding that comes with the act of trying to make another human being?
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3. (Adolescence) - Emma Cline published a fantastic piece in the Paris Review on "adolescence, pen pals, and the Manson girls".

"In the days after my trip, I watched those videos, and read the blogs devoted to tracking the Manson girls who are still alive, who now have families and jobs and ended up in places like Vermont and Arizona. In interviews, a few of them look wistfully into the camera. They speak fondly of their time on the ranch. It was something I could understand. They had been welcomed at the ranch, given nicknames both childish and aspirational. They had been held tightly and told they were unlike anyone else. I was not so different. We all wanted to be chosen in some way. Maybe it’s just an accident which women are chosen by violence.

I wonder all the time how easily things could have turned out badly for me; my life gone curdled and sour, ending viciously. The girls kidnapped by strangers, by handymen, by men who keep them in sheds or basements. If it hadn’t been Rodney Bingenheimer, a lonely and pitiable man, who had decoded my message—if it had been someone with more agency, someone like Charles Manson, who brushed his girls’ hair with his fingers and smiled at them, who told them to call him father. Or Jim Jones, cooing “darling” in his followers’ ears, and writing feverish letters to runaways like a jilted lover until they returned to the fold, to his ever-open arms.

I see it now, sometimes in my own face, but also in the faces of younger girls on the subway, their pinkies linked, their eyes darting and wounded. See me, they say. Their legs sheened with moisturizer, specked with faint bits of glitter. Braces thickening their mouths. The tightness of a pimple they worry slyly with their fingers, ashamed
.

I try to smile at them, but it isn’t me they want."
______________________

4. (Slow TV) - Would you watch the real-time recording of a train journey, from Bergen to Oslo? "The show was nearly seven and a half hours long, and consisted mostly of footage from the train’s exterior as it moved. The landscape often changed. Even when it did, though, it did not change much."

"Slow TV is usually grouped within the so-called “slow movement”: a nebulous federation of campaigns to slow down things like food production, manufacturing, education, religious services, and (perhaps a bit gratuitously) sex. . . . . The aesthetic challenge of slow TV is less about attention, in other words, than about use. Yes, the screens have won, it grants. But no, we needn’t employ them as directed. Look: you can avoid the consciousness-devouring rush of “The Good Wife” . . . and use your flat screen to view the regular world. Though slow TV appears to reach back to simpler times, it is in many ways the realization of twenty-first-century media technology, relying, for its full effect, on footage that’s high-definition, organic, and continuous. (The hours of unbroken footage for “Bergensbanen” would have been all but impossible in an era when high-quality images needed to be shot on film.) At its best, it affords a visceral kind of armchair tourism, a global window with a formless and subjective meaning. There’s no zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz in that."
________________

5. (Life Off the Grid) - I'm somewhat obsessed with people who live off the grid and I really enjoyed this Aeon article, which emphasizes that even for people who go back on the grid, they don't necessarily view their time off as a failure.

"Now I see the mesa as a kind of training ground, a place that prepared us to begin another experiment. We’re trying to take what we learned off the grid and sustain it in a new place, one that’s embedded in society instead of isolated from it.

Our Colorado ghost commune persists without us, populated by a rotating cast of strangers and old friends. A few have settled there for good, but most will move on as we did, taking their stories and, with luck, their new habits with them. Yet all of us — the seven original pioneers, my young daughter, the families that come and go after us — leave some piece of ourselves behind. As we scatter over states and continents, we remain connected, a human grid tempered in flickering campfires."
______________

6. (Harvard Schmarvard) - Michelle Rose Gilman tells us why getting our kids into Harvard should be the least of our concerns.

"We have strangled the creativity out of our children by forcing them to do things they may not want to do, but as good parents we have to check the box that reads competitive sports -- check! We have robbed them of their childhood so that we can feel good about their chances at college entrance. Many of our kids don't even know what it is they like to do because we have been telling them what to like for their whole lives. Our children are riddled with anxiety and we are medicating them more now than ever. Why are we doing this? So that they can get into college and be successful! Let me tell you something -- college acceptance does not make a person succeed, nor does it say one thing about your parenting."
__________________

7. (Story, With Bird) - And, finally, I know this doesn't quite count as an "article", but Kevin Canty's short story is one of the best pieces of fiction I've read in quite a while.

"We didn’t get married, though both of us had thought we would. And we never got a dog. We’d wanted one, but we’d never agreed on a breed: she wanted a corgi, and I wanted a golden retriever. It’s strange the way those plans we made are still floating out there, without us. The possibilities. What if I had agreed to the corgi? What would have happened after that?"

10/29/14

Things to Do - How to Shop For Clothes (the lazy way)

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(See the big box in the background? It makes me happy.)

People who see me on a regular basis are probably laughing like crazy right now, as I'm not exactly the world's best dressed mom. Nor do I claim to have great fashion sense. I never go to malls. I don't buy Vogue. Basically, there are many reasons to ignore this post.

But the other day at the playground many of my mom friends complained about how they hated shopping - the time commitment, the nasty dressing room lighting, the quest for something that looks good on our no-longer-20-year-old bodies - it all sort of sucks. Then I told everyone my clothes shopping strategy and a few people said, "that's hysterical/funny/odd/awesome, you should blog it." So here goes:

HOW TO SHOP FOR CLOTHES:

(1) Figure out when the beginning of your credit card cycle occurs then go online. AGAIN, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU SHOP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CREDIT CARD CYCLE.

(2) When shopping online, look only at stores that offer free shipping (and either free or incredibly cheap returns).

(3) Start adding things to your shopping bag. At this point, I don't think of myself as actually "buying" anything, rather I'm trying things on. So order two or three sizes if you're not sure. Don't be picky. Shop away. Then click "buy".

(4) Once the clothes arrive, don't try them on right away. Wait until you have the house to yourself and you feel good about yourself. Your hair is pretty. Maybe you're wearing makeup. Think about the rooms in your house with the best lighting. TODAY IS YOUR DAY!! This is a gift from you to you. (But don't wait too long, as you still need to return things).

(5) With some clothes you'll know right away - yes or no. Some will even look so odd in person that you don't need to take them out of the packaging. Others will seem meant for you. As soon as something is a no, put it back in the box or return bag. You do not want to lose or misplace anything, especially clothing you don't actually like.

(6) You'll probably have a maybe pile. Take your time with these. Wear them around for awhile. Once your children or significant other returns home, ask their opinion. Also, go through your closet and decide which of the actual yeses you really need and see if you have anything to wear with them. This is your opportunity to put whole outfits together and see how they work (as I'm lazy, I usually skip this step).

(7) This is the important part - give yourself a deadline to decide. Usually 1-2 days. Also calculate how much the "yes" pile costs. Can you afford everything? You may have to make some tough choices, but that's okay. Mentally remind yourself that you do not own these clothes yet (yes, you've paid for them via credit card but you haven't paid the outstanding balance yet, so these purchases still exist in a state of ownership limbo), you are merely trying them on.

(8) Know where your nearest UPS/Fed Ex storefront is (I, personally, love Pak Mail of Arlington - friendly staff, easy parking, no lines, located down the street from Trader Joes). Also know where your nearest post office is. Drive there and return the nos. Don't hesitate or take too long. If you've played this right, almost all of the no purchases will be sent back and refunded to your credit card before the cycle ends.

Of course, some people prefer malls/bargain stores/actually leaving the house. And if you're one of those people, that's awesome. But, personally, I find comfort in this process. I have no idea how I look in a bathing suit under the bright hot sun, but I know I look tolerable in my J Crew mom-style one piece when soft light filters through our house it the afternoon. And this illusion makes it easier for me to go to a beach (basically I'm not above lying to myself a little; this body has housed three babies, it needs soft light).

Here is where I shop online, feel free to add to this list (I'm always up for suggestions):

MY GO-TO SITES:

* The Gap/Old Navy/Piperlime/Banana Republic/Athletica website always offers free shipping with a $50 minimum purchase and free returns. Plus I like that I can shop at 4 stores with one shopping cart.
* Fabletics has reasonably priced work out clothes and often offers free shipping with a minimum purchase.
* Zara offers free shipping on orders over $50.
* In spring and summer, J Crew usually offers free shipping both ways on their bathing suits.
* As crazy as it sounds, Amazon can be a good source for basics like leggings and t-shirts.
* Zappos for shoes (they also sell clothes).

WHAT IF I NEED TO SHAKE THINGS UP?

* I love Stitch Fix because their stylists often pick things that I never would have chosen on my own. Plus, most of the clothing they send is reasonably priced.

WHAT IF I NEED TO SAVE MONEY?

* ThredUp has tons of used clothes for cheap prices and orders ship free.

WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO LOOK LIKE EVERYONE ELSE?
* I love shopping for old 1970s cardigans in Etsy's vintage stores. It can also be a great source for bohemian peasant tops. 1919 Vintage is one of my favorites.

10/28/14

Things to Do - This Untamed Life, Afternoon

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Dan's aunt, Ann, has undertaken the somewhat daunting task of cleaning out the house of Dan's grandparents. When Ann visited a few weeks ago she brought along some of their deceased great grandfather's cufflinks and tie clips. T had a blast going through all the old heirlooms and seemed especially excited about a tie clip with a sword. There's something heartwarming about such little things remaining in the family, generation after generation.

HAPPY TUESDAY EVERYONE!! Now click on over to This Untamed Life to see how everyone else photographed their afternoons.

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10/24/14

Things to Do - Cherish This Day & Random Links

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Just a few more photos from our trip to Cape Charles, VA. Now click on over to Cherish This Day to see how everyone else photographed their week.

HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE!

RANDOM LINKS:

* A better way to introduce your friends at parties. YES!!!

* Get to know the finalists for the 2014 National Book Award.

* LOTS of fall soup recipes (yum!)

* 13 DC Secrets You Had No Idea Existed (I only knew 3 out of 13).

* 50 Fictional Destinations That You Can Actually Visit.

* Has anyone tried Thred Up? I haven't ordered anything yet, but it looks like the best site ever.

* A girl and her room.

* Mid-week distraction #1 (which I'm reposting on a Friday, thus spoiling the whole purpose).

* Don Draper on happiness.

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