Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Letters To Manufacturers & The Deciders Of Things

One huge, affluent segment wields more spending clout than any other: Ungirdled (aka Baby-Boomer) women.* We are the most consumingest consumers.  We’ve also been around the block.  Because of this and the fact that we are running low on estrogen, this makes the people who should and WILL tell manufacturers and the powers that be HOW things should be.  Following are a few of my questions and ideas.  I am sure you have plenty, too! (do I feel the start of a series coming on?)

Dear Women’s Magazine Editors & Publishers:

Why do you always promote the latest diet and exercise regimes on your cover ALONG WITH a picture of a decadent cake or pie you’re also promoting the recipe for? 

Also, why to you feature pants that cost $730 and blouses that run $255 and boots that cost $500 in your fashion pages when the average reader could never dream of spending that much on a single piece of clothing or pair of shoes?  You must we aware of this with all the coupons and articles on financial advice from Suze Orman and others you print. 

Dear Slim Fast Shake Makers:

Orange and vanilla shakes are nice, but why not make your products in flavors we chubbies really like?  For example, Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie, Hot Krispy Kreme Donut, Whopper with fries. 

Dear Pet Food Manufacturers:

Lamb and rice is a nice flavor for dogs’ kibble, but why not make flavors dogs really seem to go for?  Ideas include:  crotch, cat feces, garbage, expensive shoe, furniture, and homework. Maybe if dog food came in these flavors, dogs would not destroy these things around the house, dogs would be happier, and your sales would go up.  You could help out wild birds by making wren and finch-flavored cat food, too.

Dear New Home Developers:

Why do you insist on taking down every tree in a new development and then naming streets after them?  Is that like a memorial?  I think we’d all rather you leave a few of the trees and name the street Concrete or Asphalt Lane instead of taking them all down and then naming streets Elm or Maple. 

What letter would you write?  Please hit the word “comments” below and let us know!

*Mary Brown, Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer—The Baby-Boomer Woman

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

August 15: National Relaxation AND National Failures Day!

Saturday is National Relaxation AND National Failures Day.  Coincidence?  Let’s nonsensically ponder it.

Some would say if you relax too much, you’ll fail at life. As a society, our nation seems more driven than most.  We enjoy far less vacation time than most European countries.  Our average annual paid vacation time is 8.9 days, whereas most European countries’ is 20-25 days. Have we failed to relax? Despite fewer vacation days, our nation is more obese and debt-ridden than ever before. So, while we are failures at relaxing, perhaps we are successful at being complete failures!  Should we, as a country, be celebrating one or two holidays on Saturday? 

 ...but laziness offers immediate gratification!

Birthday card available here.  Copy inside continues to read "Hope your birthday is especially gratifying!"

Speaking of failure to relax, school starts back soon, and I am already dreading it.  This is one area I am working to be more Ungirdled about.  I am constantly worried if I should be pushing  my children so they won’t “fail.”  Thanks to their teachers, peers, and society in general, my boys already seem to feel pressured enough to do well in school, take AP classes, and make sure they have enough extracurricular activities and community service hours for college applications.  Consequently, I often find myself telling them to relax, that there’s a college for everyone.  Summer comes, and for the most part, they become sloth.  I know that this is largely due to the pressure they feel during the school year, and they just shut down in recuperative protest.  

This causes me to worry that I am failing as a mother by not pushing them to do more in the summer.  I encounter lots of other moms who, since their children were five, have had them doing at least one sport year ‘round, doing a camp, class or other activity every week during summer break, staying active in church, staying on track to earn Boy or Girl Scouting’s highest honors, and more.  Some of these moms even send their kids to school when they’re sick (Motrin takes care of the fever, they figure, so what if he feels miserable and contaminates others?  He can’t miss school!)   These kids are like the army:  they get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.  Their moms are busier than the busiest Hollywood agents managing their school careers and extracurricular activities.  Mine are nowhere near as busy, and I can't even keep my house clean or figure out what to have for dinner.

Even at the high school level, these mothers know every homework assignment, every project, and the date of every test.  During the school year, school truly is the center of the universe in our home, but I have to stop to remember what courses my boys are taking.   (I am able to name them all – but it takes me a minute!)  These mothers also know which teacher is best for every subject and angle and finagle for their children to get those teachers.   They’ve long known what each state college is looking for and constantly remind me it’s getting harder and harder to get in.  I have tried to keep up with these moms, but I’ve failed.  Miserably.  Failure is not an option for their kids.  Neither, it seems, is relaxation (not very often, anyway).  So, I have a feeling neither of Saturday’s holidays will be observed by these families.

We had a couple of families over for dinner this weekend.  One guest, a college professor and one of our best friends who I greatly like and admire, asked my two 16 year-olds what they wanted to do.  (“Do” as in study and then have as a career.)  My boys both said they didn’t know.  Her reply to me was a concerned, “Oh, you better get on them.”  She then turned to our 14 year-old female guest and asked her the same question.  The 14 year old was able to rattle off her life plan, including what neighborhood in Savannah she would retire in (this was after attending Yale and enjoying a career in genetics).  This caused me to plan on having another beer.

Some days, I get caught up in this rat race and feel like a rat for not having it together better and pushing my boys to do more.  Other days, I relax, feeling it will all be just fine.  I tell my boys that as long as they do their best, treat others right and follow their bliss  (that is finding their true calling, honoring their natural talents to fulfill their purpose) it will all work out.  I tell them that the true definition of success is being happy most of the time and being able to meet your basic needs and those of any offspring you have.  Then I realize I am successful by my own definition (or at least I have the happy part covered while I was smart enough to marry their dad who has the "meeting the needs" part covered) and wonder why I fail to relax about their futures.  

So, which holiday do l celebrate tomorrow?  I feel like most of the time I am too relaxed about my kids' school careers and futures, so I am consequently a failure, but that makes me pretty uptight when I stop to think about it, so I am a failure at relaxing, making me successful at failing.   Do I really deserve either holiday?  Or should I just relax about the whole thing?

Which will you celebrate? National Relaxation Day or National Failures Day?  Or both? Either way, have a great one! 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Beach Etiquette - Missus Manners Guest Blogs!

Today, Missus Manners guest blogs with some tips on beach etiquette, which I find quite a coincidence, as yours truly lives at the beach and has been frequenting the shore as of late!  Feel free to print these out for beach goers you encounter who are in need of such tips.  Thanks for guest-blogging, Missus Manners!

Gentle Neanderthals Readers who happen to smoke, please know that most folks who visit the beach prefer to inhale the fresh salt air, not cancerous, noxious cigarette fumes, however classy and sophisticated you are while smoking.  ('tis hard to believe, I confess!)  Therefore, please consider your distance to others' beach blankets before lighting up.  Additionally, some folks feel your spent butts should be considered refuse and not beach decorations and wish you to kindly deposit them in the nearest waste receptacle.  

Similarly, Gentle Reader, when visiting the shore, most hope to enjoy the sights and smells of the ocean, and not (how do we put this gently?) that of which was once your pet’s breakfast now  used and redistributed.  If you must bring Rover, please obey the leash laws and bring a plastic bag for prompt waste removal. 

Nearly all will agree the sound of waves crashing on the shore is one of nature’s most soothing melodies.  Why override Mother Nature’s wonderful composition with the vocal stylings of Ghostface Killa or Snoop Dogg played at the highest volume on your portable music player or radio?  While tastes in musical artists vary, I think we can all agree the WAVE station plays universally pleasant music.  Let’s all tune into it while at the oceanfront, shall we?

For those of you with young children screaming and crying on the beach, you are in luck, as Missus Manners is an expert in child psychology.  She has been trained to recognize that when a young one is continuously screaming and crying, it can be interpreted to mean that the child is not enjoying their current predicament and should therefore be removed from it.  

Some pointers on beach attire:  Please keep in mind one should select at least his or her usual size and not three sizes smaller than what one would typically wear when selecting a swimsuit.  Choosing a large enough size will make us all a lot more comfortable.  Perhaps your desire to share your many tattoos, no matter where they appear, accounts for your preference for more skimpy fashions, but Missus Manners assures you that those special areas should only be shared with your significant other Neanderthal.

While we're on the subject, thanks ever so much, Gentle Reader, for your willingness and enthusiasm to turn the beachfront into a Discovery Channel special on the mating of your species, but perhaps we should leave such an education to a private discussion with the parents of our young beach goers.  

Finally, dearest beachfront tourist, you should know that while you may consider the local seagulls cute, exotic creatures that are entertaining to feed bits of your sandwich to, beach residents see your coaxing them as an irritant.  If you absolutely cannot refrain from feeding the vermin seagulls, please do so far away from other beach goers.  As hard as it is to imagine, not everyone adores having these squawking, defecating rats-with-wings dive-bombing them as much as you seem to. 

As always, Gentle Reader, I am glad I could be of service.  If you have any beach etiquette you would care to share, please do so by clicking on the word "comments" below and adding your advice.  Toodles!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Breastfeeding Doll Keeps Things Tit For Tat With Bottle-fed Dolls

Some days, it’s hard to come up with a blogging topic.  Other days, simply keeping abreast of the news pays off.  That is the case today.

Spanish toy manufacturer, Berjuan, has just released "Bebe Gloton," reportedly the first-ever breast-feeding doll for children.  No joke. 

In keeping tit for tat, Bebe Gloton (which, when translated, means Baby Glutton) is meant to act as an alternative to bottle-fed dolls.  The new doll comes with a halter top adorned with two daisy blossoms that, when worn, fall strategically over the child’s nipples.  When the mouth of the doll is placed on the daisy nipples it begins to make sucking sounds.  Yes, it is as creepy as it sounds,  evidenced in this You Tube video:


The idea behind Bebe Gloton is to reinforce the idea nursing is natural.  Well, so are the tender breasts and bleeding nipples that come with it, but from what I could tell, Bebe Gloton does not address this. I understand the doll is not yet available in the United States, but you know it’s just a matter of time.  There are some things I think we should consider before it hits our shores.   Isn’t this doll sexist?  I mean what about the boys?   Of course breastfeeding is the natural, healthful way to nourish your baby, but whatever happened to good ol’ imagination?  I never liked the idea of “urinating” dolls (another "natural" thing) either.  If we want to keep it real, how about dolls complete with dwindling bank accounts due to the hospital charges and equipment costs that come with having babies?

Since we’re getting girls ready for womanhood, should we have menstruating dolls?  How about a perimenopausal one with irregular cycles and chin hairs you must pluck?  After all, while we learned about caring for babies and handling our periods growing up, no one ever told us about the changes that come with getting older.   Finally what about the little girls who have their hearts set on growing up to be like Kate Gosselin or the Octomom.  What does this doll say to them?  I mean no woman is born with 6-8 daisy blossoms for nursing.  Oh, wait.  Do you think mother nature was trying to tell us something? 

Sorry to go on and on.  Just had to milk this one for all it’s worth!