V Day

Only two weeks to start feeling conflicted, miserable, or immune. That’s right. Valentine’s Day is almost here.

Most of the time it’s positioned as a lover holiday, but I liked those store-bought Valentine’s that we used to exchange in elementary school. You know, if you give one to one, you give it to all. I just loved giving them and getting them. I didn’t think, “The school makes everyone in your class give them.”  I thought, “Wow, look at all these valentines!”

When I was about 11, I made or bought, can’t remember, Valentine’s presents for my sister and parents. They didn’t give me anything, but I didn’t think about it. Then I went to do errands with my mom. She ran into the grocery store while I dreamed of putting money in a bank (I don’t remember where in the shopping center I was). Anyway, my mom pulled up, and I got in the car. On the passenger’s seat was a potted red tulip. She said I had been so sweet to everyone else on Valentine’s Day, and she wanted to do something for me.  It made me so happy.

I think that was the high point.

Momversation: Who’s the Better Gift Giver?

This was more a more interesting conversation than I would have imagined it. I ask the ladies, who is better at gift giving, men or women?  Not sure I can give it to the women. My ex-boyfriend Tim gave me arguably the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received. Before my birthday (back in the late ’90s when we dated) he asked me to go through a fashion magazine and tell him what I liked. Cut to a couple of months later on my birthday, I open up a box, and Tim had created a Daphne Doll. He had taken a picture of me standing in a slip and then cut out and created small clothes on magnets to go with it. So I could dress “Daphne” like a paper doll, or a magnet doll. I was speechless thinking of the time this must have taken. It was an extensive wardrobe. Then there was one small box left. I opened it and it was one more magnet mounted dress for “Daphne”. But it was a dress I had pointed out in the magazine. I turned it over, and he had written that he had called Cynthia Rowley’s studio in NYC (the designer), and it wasn’t in yet, but it would be sent to me within the month. I still have the dress. I am not a tenth that thoughtful.

Maybe guys are better at gifts because my mother-in-law gave one of the most questionable gifts I’ve seen. Bless her heart, but when Oliver turned 11, his grandmother gave him stuffed faux chickens. Oliver is so kind he didn’t go “wtf?” a one would expect. He looked quizzically at it and then moved on to the next present.  My family and I were stunned. I said, “Oh, when he was little did you guys have a special book you used to read about chickens?”

“No” she replied. She must have known that most 11-year-old boys love wheat sculptures made to look like poultry. After an X Box why not?

So, I bet you all have good ones about super thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful gifts.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

My sister-in-law, Leslie, is staying with us for about a week and a half.  She’s a great house guest: She works during the day and is good company at night, if you want it. If you want to be solo, that’s good for her, too.  

Vivien loves her.  Leslie speaks kid and when she arrived she gave her what I thought was a great gift. Some kind of rice krispy-like, sparkly play dough. I threw away the box, so I don’t know what it is called, but it came in blocks of color and I thought, “Hey, this will be fun!”

Well, now look at the multi-colored mess above. Last night, as little balls rained down on my couch, ottoman, and carpet, Leslie said, “I think I’m going to be making up to you for a long time for this gift.”

Fortunately, Viv’s interest is starting to wane, so I’m slowly smuggling the bigger chunks out of the house. The smaller chunks will be here longer.

Those G– D— Party Favors!

Vivien’s third birthday was Sunday. Naturally, what started as a small gathering in our backyard grew larger and similar in price to the Fed bailout. Invite a few kids, with parents and my relatives, and it was about 30-plus folks. That’s okay: I handled the food (ordered from my husband’s restaurant, naturally), got balloons, rented a couple of tables for outside, had a kid-entertainer who took Viv’s sour morning mood and made her harmonica-playing happy – literally. And I ordered a yummy cake (sidebar: from the most inept bakery, with the worst customer service – Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose in LA). But here’s what got my panties in a bundle: The party favors!

Daphne and Viv at School

I delayed getting them until the afternoon before the party, so I was overwhelmed at the task. And I found one site that said I should “make the favors memorable.” Oh, for the love of Pete!

It used to be that favors were the same junk you found in piñatas: A little plastic whistle, some candy. Now they are real toys. At a party a few months ago, one mom gave each kid three toys in a bag – I’m talking good Melissa & Doug toys. I think the biggest reason to have favors is to help parents get the screaming kid out the door. “I know you don’t want to leave, but here is a present for you, if you do!”

I called my mom and asked her what to do. She said, “I can’t help you. When you were a kid we didn’t have to give favors.” True, the favor at my kiddie parties was a small paper cup of jellybeans that the kids munched on before cake. In a couple of years, it won’t just be favors. Soon, at kiddie parties they will have gifting suites.

And another thing: At the party, three separate kids came up to me and asked, “Where is the piñata?” I sai, honestly, “No piñata: I don’t like them.” Little kids waving around a big stick and finally some dad has to step in to whack it? The whole thing stresses me out.

Mommy Must Have

Here’s a cute thing that was one of the first products I featured on my “Mommy Must Have” segment on my TV show, The Fashion Team. Although come to think of it we haven’t done that segment in months, which means the producers must have cut it without telling me…hmm. Typical.

Anyway, I was trolling a star-studded benefit for the March of Dimes last year, eyeing the swag available to the famous and hoping to get ideas for my show. When low and behold I see a very nice, unassuming mom with her t-shirts and matching books. These are not just shirts with a familiar story or song on them, they’re Nursery Rhyme Tease, and each shirt comes with a little book that matches. So I got Vivien “Wheels On The Bus,” and “5 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed.” She loved them, got so excited when I gave them to her. She likes reading the books, knows the words and wears the shirt like a rocker wears his AC/DC shirt, to show what a fan she is!

As I recall they were about $25 dollars for the set. Order a few and have them in an emergency gift nook for when you realize, “oh, crap, we have a kiddie party today!”

That’s my plug.