November 28, 2011
How convenient! Cyber Monday. As if a stampeding herds of human cattle on Black Friday weren’t enough! We now have another great marketing invention (born in the reality of an emerging habit and cultivated in the petri dish of “what makes American shoppers tick.” There were no fewer than 10 emails in my Hotmail account when I woke up this morning, all of them offering a wicked deal today. Even the hotels points programs aren’t missing a beat, offering me a special rate on my next stay…if I book NOW.
Materialism aside (my mother-in-law informed all her children over Thanksgiving that we are very materialistic; note to self), the reality is that we all have shopping lists, people for whom we need to buy (including the mother-in-law), and a budget with which to do it. So, whether or not you’ve waited til today to check out your favorite online shopping destinations, first go make your list, then at least give online retailers a shot. My favorites for working moms who undoubtedly are managing “THE LIST” for the household……
- AMAZON! Rob and I signed up for Amazon’s Prime program this year. Yes, it costs $80 but with Christmas, the last minute needs, and our — ehem — struggle with instant gratification, it is more than paying for itself for us. We have quite literally bought everything from a massive table saw (that had to be delivered in an 18-wheeler) to… well, duh… books. Amazon is also great for LEGOS, as we have several Lego obsessed children in the Klause/Joss clan.
- Ten Thousand Villages! I’ve talked about Ten Thousand Villages numerous times on this blog. After joining the Board of Directors last year, I tested out the online store for Christmas 2010. Not only were the small jewelry items I purchased perfectly wrapped and protected, but the home decor items came beautifully packaged with small tag descriptors that told a story about where each item originated and the artisans who helped to create it.
- Victoria’s Secret — Even if you’re not gearing up for the big Fashion Show this week, and in spite of the fact that telling all your Facebook friends what color bra you wear is so 2009, Victoria’s Secret continues to be where I like to get my girly on. Lately, my obsession has been pajamas. I have at least 4 sets of PJs from Victoria’s Secret– nothing X rated (much to Rob’s dismay), although one set is leopard print. My SIL over at BigRedKitchen might be the recipient of some new jammies this year. This usually stylish, hot mama revealed to me that she has been wearing the same moumou/t-shirt to bed for 10 years.
- Lilly’sKids — yes, you read that right. Christmas sweaters and kitschy decor aside, the Kids section of Lillian Vernon really has some adorable, personalized items, especially for girls. I’ve bought personalized gifts like sleeping bags, roller suitcases, flip flops, beach towels, water bottles and pencils. And it is actually PROOF that I took the time and ordered in advance to get my niece’s name on everything! And let’s face it… PotteryBarn took this good idea and perfected it even more… Lilly’s kids is just a heck of a lot cheaper.
Clearly, there are no earthshattering sites here. This Mama could use some new ideas but these have served me well over the last 5 years! My goal this year is to actually uncover some new online gems to help me complete the list… (more on that Excel sheet later!)
Happy (Cyber) Monday!
October 4, 2011
The little wake ups start around 4 AM….This morning’s went like this…
– schedule electrician
— call Mitchie with kids and sing Happy Birthday
— set up Wisconsin Public Radio interview
— finish monthly scorecard
— find babysitter for the 15th
— research Peru weather
— ask Nonni to alter Mia’s costume
Yes, the List. My list, swirling around in my head. I’m sure mine are not unlike many working moms’ lists. But that is why “I Don’t know How She Does It” was such a true-to-life movie. It captured the subtleties of the daily trade offs, the crazy schedules, the no-time-for-a-hair-appointment feeling (and look!), the joy (pure joy!) of time with my children, the fear of the teacher’s scowl when we’re late for drop off, the mommy guilt, the momsters who gloat that they have no mommy guilt, and that strange sense that amidst all this, I wouldn’t change my situation.
Sarah Jessica Parker — in her portrayal of Kate Reddy — captured a woman excelling at her job, adoring her kids, supporting at equally talented husband, and just plain trying to figure it all out without thinking she has to entirely give up any portion of the equation.
The movie does not sugar coat how important it is for her to be at the TOP of her game at work. Period. Full stop. No requests for special breaks because she’s a mom. She had to earn every inch of respect and reward.
And it doesn’t let her off at home either. She has an honest husband who watches her with amazement and pride, yet who knows when to holler “Uncle” as things spiral out of control. And let’s be honest. Sometimes they do.
Life is messy. Job stress ebbs and flows. Kids will need Rob and me more — not less - as they grow up. By no means can anyone tie things up in a perfect bow. But on Sunday night, the eve of my 13th wedding Anniversary, sitting in that dark theatre with my husband, watching what seemed like our own life unfold on that screen, we agreed that we wouldn’t want it any other way.
September 27, 2011
It was October 2002 when I first became a working mom. Full time job. Four month old baby at home. Someone — other than my husband and me – who was helping with the care of our first child.
Fortunately, ever since that day, I have had the benefit of employers who champion flexibility in the workplace and the ability to work from home several days a week if I choose. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t utilize day care, babysitters, and currently, after-care at my children’s school. I have and I do. And I’m actually a pretty big believer in the benefits of GOOD, group daycare, especially when the child care support system reinforces our Christian faith.
I know however, that as fortunate as I have been to take advantage of these benefits and have the money to pay for them, and am able to leave work to ensure I’m there for important milestones with my children…. there are many many women (and men!) in the working world who are ball and chained to desks, living the 9 to 5 grind with employers who neither take advantage of today’s technology to provide flexibility or (in my mind) worse, don’t trust their employees with the freedom to manage between work and home in creative ways.
I’m not sure where she’s going with this but I’m glad to know that the First Lady is helping to shine a light on the issue (as noted in this Politico story) by championing flexible work.. recognizing that in this Century, we need solutions that can accommodate the rigors of family life and thriving careers, both. I hope she gives her staff the flexibility that she touts. Because hers is a powerful voice….and with the “I Don’t Know How She Does It” movie in theatres, the timing is good!
September 6, 2011
Hard to believe that today is that iconic day…the First Day of School. Which also means another thing… Summer is over. Here in the Klause household, we find ourselves somewhere between denial and anticipation of what’s to come this fall. Even Graham, who is very excited to see his friends at school, when asked how this summer was for him on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst, 10 the best), answered without skipping a beat, “10 million.”
It is hard to let go. So before I do, allow me to shine a visual light on some of our very best memories of Summer 2011.
First….the May bookend of Summer… Memorial Day on the Wolftrap Lawn waiting for the fireworks!
Another Memorial Day tradition.. planting our Summer Annuals!
We always celebrate Rob and Robin’s birthdays at the front end of Summer.
Once school was out it was Baseball and Swimming all the time! Who would have guessed that Graham would love baseball so much and Mia would be the only swimmer on her team to make All Star times in two strokes – back and freestyle!
Not without a little bit of “learning” Graham and Mia jumped right into Science and Cooking class. And they had a phenomenal babysitter Melissa, who reinforced creativity in the kitchen…
July brought the Neff vacation to the Outer Banks…we hadn’t been there since Graham was a baby, so having all the kids together with Mom and Dad at a place where Tim and I grew up vacationing was very special.
Ah, the beloved Lake…for the third year we celebrated Graham’s birthday here (with his second cake this summer)… we fished, swam, ate, relaxed, had lots of cousin time…. Pure Heaven.
And what would summer be without day trips…the National Zoo and Dutch Wonderland with Nana (where my Grandma used to take me each summer!)…..
Mia and I even squeeked in the DC Idol concert (she loves her Scotty!) and a visit to the National History Museum in the same day…
All good things may come to an end in one sense, but this Summer was, as Toby Keith likes to say “A big ‘en”.
July 4, 2011
Just like Katy Perry (and the Beach Boys before her) made everyone long to live on the Gold Coast, anyone with a little girl who steps inside the new Washington, D.C. American doll store in Tysons could go off the deep end of pure American consumerism in the name of their little darling.
Confession! I am not immune to this. From our NYC visit of the chain’s flagship store to the purchase of the 2008 “Mia” Doll-of-the-Year to our recent pre-opening lunch at the Tysons store, I can get swooned into the American Girl culture. Wholesome, yes. Affordable? That’s debatable (and that’s why we are buying no more.)
But it was fun to experience the new store. Thanks to my friend Carrie, who knows the store café’s new chef, we got the royal treatment. He must have fed us one of everything on the menu. From special high chairs for one’s own doll, loaners dolls if you forgot yours (because no one wants to be without an 18 inch companion), to doll holders on the walls in the bathroom stalls, they thought of nearly everything for the 10-and-under set. The café is light and airy – almost like a flowery Silver Diner — and the store is warm and welcoming.
It’s a fun destination trip. But my advice is: Visit sparingly…oh, and set expectations ahead of time with your American Girl. Something like this: “Honey, I will absolutely NOT be buying that $125 bed for the doll. ”
On a related note….Want to be a grown up American Girl (Woman, actually) and you have some dead presidents to blow this Fourth of July? Great! You can always invest in this Balmain jacket…for a mere $21,555. Now that’s Patriotism, compliments of the Zoe report!
March 31, 2011
Even Florida gets cold. That’s why they have Espresso stands all over Disney World! No, Disney, unlike my beloved Morning Joe and my beloved Target, has not struck a deal with Starbucks.
They know how to grab you on the way in, with the small of espresso wafting by the entrance. It actually never takes much to “grab” me when it comes to coffee.
When in doubt, get an Americano. Almost always better than the drip. And for kids, the Hot Chocolate is nearly like the ‘BUX.
November 25, 2010
In December, actually the day after I turn the big 4-0, I will become Auntie again to another beautiful nephew. I have 3 wonderful ones already…but I cannot wait to get my hands on this baby.
In the spirit of 1) Thanksgiving (because I adore my nieces and nephews), 2) reality (as I will likely not give birth to any more boys myself!) and 3) given my knack for butting in when uninvited, I’ve decided to take a load off of Tim and Kim by offering a few suggestions…
”Auntie Tonya’s favorite boy names”
– Jonathan (before Mia came out with girl equipment she was going to be Jonathan (and called Jono))
– Judah (strong biblical name)
– Jacob (this is my vote for middle name, because Tim has two grandfathers with this name)
– Wesley (as in Charles Wesley the great hymnwriter)
– Anderson (not sure why but it sounds cool)
– Jude (despite the fact that I think of Jude Law)
- Hershey (family name!)
– Lucas (because we know he will grow up loving StarWars)
– Caleb (another strong biblical name)
– Micah (this one might actually be my favorite! and his older brother is Michell. two M’s is just fun)
Of course, the fact that I am recommending these names is probably the very reason Kim won’t go for them (because that’s how she rolls)…oh well. Worth a try!
Now if you ask Rob, he’ll suggest..
– Rubens Barrichello Neff (because he beat The Stig on Top Gear)
February 10, 2010
I teased my colleague Kathy this morning that, with that adorable little 3 year old she brought back from Russia, she also brough unending WINTER!
Not since New Years weekend of 1996 do I remember getting snowed in for so long…and with so many house guests on top of our 4 roomies. The mid 90s were the days of our 20s! When that snowstorm hit, it was my first year of DC group house single living – My BFF Missie and I, who had just moved to DC from Lancaster, our high school buddy T (who, since moving on to LA is now “Shad”), his girlfriend (announced to us on move-in day) Wendy, all of us living in a McLean couple’s home for a few years while they were overseas.
On that fateful holiday, trapped with us for days, given the icy blast and the trecherous road conditions, were Jere, Hoyt, and Jim and Kate….all faithful friends from PA who had not planned to stay all week in Virginia. I don’t remember how much we shoveled that weekend. I do remember pasta dinners and drinking games, scrabble challenges, movies and phone calls to see if the PA roads had opened. I remember us getting sick of each other too (“How the heck can Jere sleep til noon?!”). Nevertheless, the weekend was etched in our minds. And, still friends, as we gathered over this past Christmas holiday to catch up, we recounted that 96 blizzard with the whitewashed sort of fondness that time brings.
Today, our blizzard day lives are quite different. In our household, we wake to snow at 6 AM, not 10. Usually the first words out of the mouths of babes are ”Mama, are we going to school today?” Followed by long hugs, wishes for cereal (or chicken nuggets) for breakfast, and then the making of a to-do list for the day. There are snow day playdates, attempts at helping Daddy shovel, and slides down the driveway…
For me, there’s a little more time to read.. especially the work of two columnists writing about men and shoveling “it” — from different perspectives….
Ruth Marcus, continuing her unique view (which I”ve agreed with before) on the heroine Jenny Sanford, in light of Jenny’s book. She rightly lambasts Mr. Sanford as a cad (putting it nicely), and blasts Jenny for sticking around as long as she did. There is a lot hereto ponder on a cold snowy day, given what we want to believe about “til death do us part” and redeption. Whether you’re Hillary Clinton, Jenny Sanford or Elizabeth Edwards, the path you must follow is probably not framed in Vegas lights.
On a lighter note, Kathleen Parker has a refreshing and interesting take on men, why we want them, and how the shovels of 2010 have unearthed many innate desires to demonstrate worth.
Happy snow and happy reading!
January 15, 2010
“Mama, am I still the littlest in the Klause family?”
“On my birthday I want to go to the spa and pick out my nailpolish and your nailpolish….You have to wear what I choose for you..”
May 23, 2009
Our Microsoft internal site, MSW, this week had a great story on Lisa Gurry, a long time Microsoft employee who was recently named one of the top 30 Working mothers, along with Michelle Obama, by Working Mother magazine. It highlighted for me the balance, real life struggles and success of some smart women, but it reminded me of the benefit of working for Microsoft where flexibility is a reality and a huge benefit.
It’s a nice tribute that showcases the complexities that Lisa now juggles. The internal site notes:
One of the questions Gurry was asked on stage (at the Working Mothers event) was whether she considered technological advances in the workplace a good thing or a bad thing when it comes to work-life balance. She answered, enthusiastically, that without laptops, mobile phones, and other mobile devices and connectivity, “many of us wouldn’t have the flexibility we have today.” “One of the reasons I value [Microsoft] is that we are able to do some special activities with Taylor while having a little bit of a flexible work arrangement. And Microsoft insurance has been an absolute gift,” Gurry said. “We would not be able to give her the care that she was getting otherwise. I’ve always been a very grateful Microsoft employee, but I’ve never been more grateful than in my current situation.”