A Lesson in Valentines

In ancient times, before I became a mother, Valentine's Day was a romantic, decidely adult holiday, celebrated with lingerie, chocolate and sex.

Since I've had school-age children, the holiday has been hijacked. Now, in late January I start worrying: How far other parents will go this time and how far below that standard my children's offerings will fall. I've seen enormous gourmet cupcakes personalized with each classmate's name in fancy script icing, lacquered doilies that look as if they belong in a vintage museum, homemade heart-shaped cookies on a stick, and last year one mom burned CDs with her child's favorite love songs. Who can keep up? Every impressive Valentine dumped from my children's backpacks screams at me: bad mother!

In my pathetic way, I've tried everything: making homemade cards (mangled lumps of red construction paper and glue), buying cheap cards at CVS or slightly more chic cards from a fancy paper store (Where the Wild Things Are, Dr. Seuss, mermaids and monkeys in drag). This year I added a homemade chocolate chip cookie wrapped in plastic with heart stickers.

I can't quite surrender to the ridiculousness of this all, which I should since my family's Valentine's failures bothers me and not my children.

So what did you send in today? Let's hear from my fellow losers and the uber-creative victors in this war of the roses.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 14, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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I didn't send a thing. I didn't do a thing. This is a fake "holiday"

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 7:23 AM

No school today in Fairfax!!!

I agree, this is NOT supposed to be a children's holiday. My understanding is that this holiday celebrates romantic love.

I will however be sending in little boxes of sweetarts tomorrow. I'm not about to let my kids be embarrassed by me making a stand against the ridiculousness of it all.

As far as the bad mother thing goes, take a deep breath and refuse to play the who's a better mommy game. Knocking yourself out does not really impress anyone - it says "I'm insecure." My kids are happy to be giving sweetarts.

Posted by: Fairfax | February 14, 2007 7:30 AM

I did the construction paper hearts last night. It was ok except my toddler kept trying to cut the paper into little bits. I don't think there's any need to feel insecure about what other people bring. Who cares! I think it's more for your kid to feel included. Apparently everyone in his class is bringing valentines and I don't want him to feel like the slacker. But I'm not going to spring for Hallmark cards for everyone. that's silly. They're two!

Posted by: m | February 14, 2007 7:48 AM

Leslie, how much of this is about your over-achieving personality? My kids are older, but I did what I did and didn't worry about what the other parents were doing.

FWIW, on Valentine's Day, we had cards for each of the classmates. The cards were the ones you would find in a drugstore or grocery store. Never anything fancy. The room mother sent a list of suggested items for a class party and you either signed up for something or you didn't. My children knew from an early age to only sign up for something I could buy. Paper plates were always good :-).

Now, in Howard County schools, there are new 'wellness' policies, and I don't think you can send in much of anything. I don't know all the details, but it is something like only one or two parties during the year and they must be after lunch. No birthday cupcakes are allowed.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 7:48 AM

Whoo-hoo. So glad we moved away from Fairfax. Hadn't realized that even V-Day had gotten out of control.Honestly I think it's odd how parenting can be seen as a competitive sport.

At our kid's school (near Norfolk), the principal decided that since they were now getting so much candy it resembled Halloween (Remember when we just gave the cards and signed our names),they didn't ALSO need a party. so at the end of the day today, everybody will exchange Valentines and that's the end of it.

On the other hand,I DO like the fact that now kids are required to give everyone a Valentine. When we were growing up, I remember it being a popularity contest ad getting kind of ugly and sad.

BTW, last year I tried to take a stand against the sugar bonanza by making my kids give Valentine's Day pencils. They tell me they got a lot of grief for that. This year it's back to Dum-dum pops and mini Kit-Kat bars.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | February 14, 2007 7:49 AM

'Apparently everyone in his class is bringing valentines and I don't want him to feel like the slacker. But I'm not going to spring for Hallmark cards for everyone. that's silly. They're two!'

Do you really think that a two-year-old is going to feel like a slacker?

What are you going to do when he is in middle school and wants to keep up with everyone else?

Posted by: lurker | February 14, 2007 7:51 AM

What in the world does this have to do with balance?

Posted by: xyz | February 14, 2007 7:53 AM

I think a bigger issue here is how to stand by your family's values and beliefs in the face of peer pressure and materialistic excesses. Of course, none of us like it when our children are disappointed and sad and feel left out.

However, if you don't stand by your beliefs when the kids are young, it only gets harder as they get older. Start early. Telling them, "I know other families do things differently, but we are not other families and this is the way we do things" seems to be a better solution than perpetually worrying that you are not doing enough.

For holidays such as this, we have cards for each of the children and contribute to a class party. We do not have individual treats for each child.

I have known high school girls who MUST have a gift for each of their ten closest friends. They wanted real gifts, not just a token. This is ridiculous. My children got quite tired of hearing, "Well, it's too bad that you got us as parents instead of MAry's parents." "When you grow up and have your own kids, you can do it differently."

Posted by: xyz | February 14, 2007 8:05 AM

I agree that there are too many parties and too much sugar, but no birthday cupcakes!!! That's child abuse. ;)

Parenthood as a competitive sport is ugly and sad and fuels the cat-fighting stereotype of women. It's also a popular sport at my daughter's school. I refuse to play.

Posted by: Fairfax | February 14, 2007 8:08 AM

"Every impressive Valentine dumped from my children's backpacks screams at me: bad mother!"

That comment is way too silly. This is a stupid holiday that sounds like it's been hijacked by candymakers and Hallmark.

I am so glad my children go to a private school where this is not celebrated--neither is Halloween. So much better than what you describe.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 8:12 AM

It has everything to do with balance - do I just throw a box of inexpensive valentines in the cart at the grocery store or do I spend hours baking special cupcakes?
I do think some of the over the top Leslie experienced is from having her children in private school - more wealthy type A personalities, though over the top type A personalities can exist anywhere. The problem is just one or two families can start this and to make thier child not feel left out, or to make themselves look good, others follow in a vicious cycle of competativeness. The best you can do is try to do enough so your child doesn't feel left out, but not try to win the contest. Remember there are usually other parents who want to keep it reasonable so you are not alone

Posted by: divorced mom of 1 | February 14, 2007 8:15 AM

why is Leslie so insecure? if other people go to a lot of trouble and/or expense, that's fine for them. I don't feel any pressure to match them. We used to enjoy making simple candy valentines. This year the teacher said no candy, so we bought a box of little folding cards at the drugstore and spent about 10 minutes addressing them.

Posted by: green mtns | February 14, 2007 8:19 AM

My girls made and decorated valentine cards. No candy--and I hate that all the other parents send candy in. No child needs all that candy. Even the teachers sent a bag of candy for each child. They didn't take their valentines yesterday (it wasn't Valentine's Day). But all the other children in the 5 y.o.s class brought them in yesterday (but no one in the 8 yo's class did). They were the cheapo cards with candy, or tiny bags of M$Ms or little boxes of conversation hearts. Although I deplore all the candy, no one spent a lot of money or time on them.

Posted by: single mother by choice | February 14, 2007 8:20 AM

This topic has so much to do with balance, because it's an example of how totally UNBALANCED life gets sometimes!

I never, ever would have imagined this kind of stuff when I was pregnant with my first child. And I'm not sure it has to do with being competitive -- it has to do with wanting to be a good mom, and being afraid you fall short in others' eyes.

And I am so glad to hear that perhaps this kind of silliness is limited to private schools -- but I'd like to hear from more people with kids at public schools to see if this is indeed true. A good public school is the answer to a lot of the insanity. My latest pet peeve is how many holidays and extended vacations the private schools have -- very difficult for families where both parents work fulltime.

Happy Valentine's Day! Happy Snow Day! By lucky coincidence I got my kids three movies for VD presents (Balto, Flicka and Step Up) so they have plenty of entertainment. Husband is a different story...

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 8:22 AM

The whole thing is crazy. I got scooby doo and polly pocket valentines at the dollar store and we put 50 cent pieces on them instead of candy since we ususally end up throwing out all of the candy and that's it. I thought most kids probably hadn't seen the 50 cent pieces and they might even learn something about President Kennedy in the process.

I don't get this idea of buying presents for kids for valentines day ( DVDs and stuff)? What is this Christmas? I saw women in Target the other day buying special Valentines day outfits for their daughters. Spending essentially $40 on an outfit for one Hallmark holiday. I'm a SAHM, but I think this is one thing that SAHMs go crazy with is the holidays. Just wait 'till St. Patrick's day there will be moms with green cookies and gold coins etc... I'd rather the schools didn't celebrate them at all. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 8:36 AM

Leslie, I think we parents (mothers) worry too much.

Recently, I looked briefly at store-made cards for my 4th grader and then promptly forgot.

I asked her what she wanted to do, and she hasn't expressed a strong interest in doing anything.

So I didn't worry about it. School is delayed here in NY, so if she wants to be creative this morning, she can, but I'm not going to make myself crazy.

One small step for woman...

Posted by: Kate | February 14, 2007 8:40 AM

Leslie, I think we parents (mothers) worry too much.

Recently, I looked briefly at store-made cards for my 4th grader and then promptly forgot.

I asked her what she wanted to do, and she hasn't expressed a strong interest in doing anything.

So I didn't worry about it. School is delayed here in NY, so if she wants to be creative this morning, she can, but I'm not going to make myself crazy.

One small step for woman...

Posted by: Kate | February 14, 2007 8:42 AM

Why are you making your kids' valentines? Shouldn't they be doing this? What's next--you doing their homework?

Yeesh! Stop the one-upmanship!

Posted by: Phillyfilly | February 14, 2007 8:47 AM

Leslie are you kidding? Who has time to make that stuff? My daughter is three and I sent Dora cards. One thing I can't stand though is that every holiday has to be celebrated with junk food. Oh it's V-day lets have cake, juice, candy, cheese, suckers, chocolate, etc.

It's---insert holiday here lets have all of the above again. It's someone's birthday time for an overhaul of junk.

I mean really we have an epidemic of overweight kids in this country and I feel like the school gives treats out all the time. I mean what's a parent to do?

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 8:48 AM

My kids' school doesn't celebrate this silly holiday either.

What did Leslie's husband do to help? Is he a "bad father"?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:03 AM

It's so interesting to note all of the comments about candy, cake, junk etc. (With which, I agree, BTW.) However, as one mom pointed out, you have every right to THROW IT AWAY. So do it, and stop complaining about getting candy. My kids get candy rarely and see these holidays as an opportunity to splurge a little. Which is kinda what they were intended for, if I'm not mistaken. So, please, could you folks please stop sucking the fun out of everything?

As for the material excesses and competitiveness of the holidays... My kids are being taught to enjoy the simpler aspects and not expect a Christmas-type celebration on every holiday. But I, as a parent, have to model this. There are always going to be people who do more and have more. Get over it.

Posted by: jrbva | February 14, 2007 9:04 AM

Luckily for me, Valentine's Day is still a romantic holiday (no kids). But I still think it's a total Hallmark holiday. We buy each other little romantic things and go out to dinner (okay, not tonight because all the restaurants will be packed). I don't know any husband who buys the diamond tennis bracelet or pendant. If I did I think I'd slap him!

In my parochial school, we made valentines in class and then handed them out the next day. No candy. At the time, I didn't know any different (no friends in public school), so I didn't complain.

Posted by: Meesh | February 14, 2007 9:06 AM

Moxiemom I wish people wouldn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day with green cookies either. It means more to some people than that. Luckily, my kid is never there on that day because we always celebrate that holiday with my family in Ohio.

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 9:07 AM

Leslie, why do you even care what the other parents send in? And why are you buying gifts for your kids? This is not a 'gifts for kids' holiday. I noticed that when my kids bring home their Valentine loot from school, they are happy, but they don't remember who gave them what!

Posted by: experienced mom | February 14, 2007 9:08 AM

I agree with Leslie - I don't think this can be written off so easily as a "competition" issue among moms. While certainly there are some moms who seem eager to "one up" all others when in comes to such things (whether it be valentine day cards, halloween costumes, art/dance/music/whatever classes), I think the majority of us just want to be "good moms." And in our quest to be a "good mom," it is hard not to measure ourselves (and our children) against our (and their) peers.

As a rational person, I know that my worth as a mom has nothing to do with what offerings my child brings to his classmates at Valentine's Day. But I also want my child to fit in with and be accepted by his peers, so I participate in these activities and ultimately perpetuate the problem.

This is why I really appreciate the teachers/principals that set the rules - e.g., no sweets or nothing but cards.

Posted by: londonmom | February 14, 2007 9:09 AM

Moxiemom I wish people wouldn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day with green cookies either. It means more to some people than that. Luckily, my kid is never there on that day because we always celebrate that holiday with my family in Ohio.

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 9:09 AM

"And I'm not sure it has to do with being competitive -- it has to do with wanting to be a good mom, and being afraid you fall short in others' eyes."

Leslie, what did you mean then when you said "Who can keep up?"

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:10 AM

I agree with Leslie - I don't think this can be written off so easily as a "competition" issue among moms. While certainly there are some moms who seem eager to "one up" all others when in comes to such things (whether it be valentine day cards, halloween costumes, art/dance/music/whatever classes), I think the majority of us just want to be "good moms." And in our quest to be a "good mom," it is hard not to measure ourselves (and our children) against our (and their) peers.

As a rational person, I know that my worth as a mom has nothing to do with what offerings my child brings to his classmates at Valentine's Day. But I also want my child to fit in with and be accepted by his peers, so I participate in these activities and ultimately perpetuate the problem.

This is why I really appreciate the teachers/principals that set the rules - e.g., no sweets or nothing but cards.

Posted by: londonmom | February 14, 2007 9:12 AM

To 9:03 am question about my husband: Last night at 8 pm he looked at all the Valentine's stuff spread on the dining room table and asked "Oh, is tomorrow Valentine's Day?" That was his contribution. A good balancing weight to the VD craziness!

I think it is a total over-reaction when schools ban holidays like Valentine's and Halloween. Much better to set limits and talk to parents about the messages of "excess" we are sending, and give parents a chance to self-police. Not sure if it will work but better than a total ban!

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 9:12 AM

That's great that another mother violated copyrights (i'm guessing the songs werent public domain) and piracy laws by burning cd's for all the kids in the class.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:12 AM

We have one child in private and one child in public schools. In our admittedly limited experience, Valentines Day is handled the same by the parents and teachers in each. Cards without candy are so far outside the norm now that my daughter was the only child in her pre-school class of 18 last year who brought in cards. just store-bought cards. addressed and signed by her. Every other card had a goodie bag or multiple pieces of candy attached to it. The recipients tossed her cards aside like so much detritus and focused, as children will, on the cards that came with the largest edible payoffs. The stakes have indeed been raised.

This year our daughter addressed and signed her cards and we agreed to attach a single lollipop to each. She's only 5 and has so much joy in the anticipation of this day, it's worth it to us to recycle the Halloween candy in this limited manner; however, we have neither the time nor the budget nor the desire to turn Valentines Day into the goodie-bag equivalent of a birthday party. Fortunately, my son has been way too cool for Valentines Day cards since 2nd grade.

I wish more schools, or even individual teachers, would kill the candy associated with this holiday. It's not healthy and no child needs it.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 9:12 AM

My daughter is 3 and we got a box of Thomas cards for each of her classmates. That's it. School's cancelled, but I think the parents would be up in arms if we sent candy for 3 yr olds! I know I'd be upset if my daughter came home with an armload of candy!
We got my daughter a Valentine card this morning.
My mom always got me a cute pair of earrings (nothing expensive) or a bracelet, etc and my dad got me yellow roses each year.
My husband and I don't celebrate VDay, though- what a waste of money!

Who cares what other parents think? Why would I spend hours baking personalized cakes? Or spend upwards of $100 buying goodies? It's nice for the kids to get cards, but I always detested the Valentine grams/roses you could buy in school. It caused so much drama and hurt for the kids who didn't get anything.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 14, 2007 9:13 AM

I checked out the On Parenting blog and it's a lot like its counterpart on the Wall Street Journal. Insipid and asinine.

Makes a lot of Leslie's stuff downright profound and Proustian.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:16 AM

To 9:03 am question about my husband: Last night at 8 pm he looked at all the Valentine's stuff spread on the dining room table and asked "Oh, is tomorrow Valentine's Day?" That was his contribution. A good balancing weight to the VD craziness!

I think it is a total over-reaction when schools ban holidays like Valentine's and Halloween. Much better to set limits and talk to parents about the messages of "excess" we are sending, and give parents a chance to self-police. Not sure if it will work but better than a total ban!

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 9:16 AM

I wish people wouldn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day with green cookies either.

Scarry - I agree. We don't celebrate St. Patrick's day because we are neither Irish or Catholic.

"As a rational person, I know that my worth as a mom has nothing to do with what offerings my child brings to his classmates at Valentine's Day. But I also want my child to fit in with and be accepted by his peers, so I participate in these activities and ultimately perpetuate the problem."

Londonmom - I don't intend this to be snarky however, isn't it our job as parents to model behavior that we want our children to achiever. Therefore wouldn't you be setting a good example by having the courage to be the kind of mom you want to be. YOu'd be showing your children the value of being true to themselves. If you can't stand up to Valentines day then how can you expect them to stand up to pressure for drinking or drugs. Maybe some of the other parents would be relieved that someone opted out or scaled back. Again, just a comment, not intended as an attack on your person.


Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:17 AM

"jrbva," I know what you're saying. While I think that gifts of diamonds for spouses are excessive for Valentine's Day, I don't begrudge the kids small gifts or candy. Parents can do what they want. I'm sure they know what they're doing.

"experienced mom," I'm not picking a fight, but I wanted to point this out. You asked Leslie "why do you even care what the other parents send in? And why are you buying gifts for your kids?" Doesn't that seem hypocritical? So she shouldn't worry about the moms at school but she should worry about what you think she should get her kids? I think that if we stopped judging moms based on what they do for their kids, we woulnd't have this whole competition thing.

Posted by: Meesh | February 14, 2007 9:20 AM

Government had 2 hour delay, so I am just getting in. I actually get what Leslie is saying. There has been this insane escaltion in kid functions in this last generation. Everything to Halloween to kids birthday parties. Don't get me started on kid's birthday parties. That deserves a day to itself. Anyway, call me lame but I sent in a $3 box of Dora cards. It covered the preschool and day care plus their teachers. I sent in a box of gourmet chocolates (from Costco-you can guess how gourment they are) to the day care staff and a box of chocolate to the preschool faculty. There was a message in her back pack about a V-Day party and was asking for a contribution. I really wish they would give you more then one day notice on these things. So I threw in an unopened box of cookies in her back pack. Luckily school was cancelled. I am not sure if they will celebrate it tomorrow. If they do, DD misses out because she is only enrolled in the M-W class. Maybe we will get lucky and they will do it next week. But V-Day cards was evidently part of the lesson. The kids will have mail boxes and put the cards in each other's mail boxes and learn about addressing an envelope and delivering mail. With that in mind, they should have given more then one snow day lead time so parents can be prepared. DD goes to day care and the day care throws a party. They usually come home with some sort of gift. I think last year it was a heart shaped plastic plate and a heart shaped cookie. But I figure that is covered in our $1300/month day care fee. They have never asked for a donation. Most parents do not send candy because the kids are so young. One mother said those cheap lollipops and I bet more then 1/2 were dumped in the trash before the kids saw them. Didn't know I was suppose to send treats to the elementary school. Oh yeah, you wanna know what is lame. The school PTA was selling candy grams for a quarter. So I sent in $3 and it covered all the kids and the teachers too. I figured that was more then enough. I already know I can't compete with the baking moms. I even go to the baker for my kids birthday cupcakes. Hmm, what to do? Moxiemom-I always wondered what some SAHMs did or moms on a tight budget about all this stuff. I think part of this insanity is working mom guilt. I have to admit that I bought $50 worth of V-Day gifts for DD. Sometimes I think it is because I grew up more main stream middle to lower middle class. We rarely even had the cheap $3 CVS cards to give out. Lord knows, my mother never baked for schools. We were always the kids that came in with a box of Hostess twinkies as our contribution. Don't know what Mom did because she did not work outside the home. But she sure as heck never baked. On the other hand, we had awesome home made Halloween costumes. Mom is an artist. But my point was $$ was always a bit tight till I was in HS. So I missed out on all the silly little things. I think that is why I go nuts on the little things. I bought so much crap for her Christmas stocking, I had to put some of it away for her Easter basket. I have to keep telling myself she does not need any more crap. She does not need any more crap. Help me guys!!!

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 9:21 AM

My daughter is 3 and we got a box of Thomas cards for each of her classmates. That's it. School's cancelled, but I think the parents would be up in arms if we sent candy for 3 yr olds! I know I'd be upset if my daughter came home with an armload of candy!
We got my daughter a Valentine card this morning.
My mom always got me a cute pair of earrings (nothing expensive) or a bracelet, etc and my dad got me yellow roses each year.
My husband and I don't celebrate VDay, though- what a waste of money!

Who cares what other parents think? Why would I spend hours baking personalized cakes? Or spend upwards of $100 buying goodies? It's nice for the kids to get cards, but I always detested the Valentine grams/roses you could buy in school. It caused so much drama and hurt for the kids who didn't get anything.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 14, 2007 9:22 AM


Hey, Armchair Mom, the pencils are popular around here!

The standard around here (public, great school, Atlanta) is either kid-made or drugstore Valentines, usually with a little token attached --- either a small candy, a patterned pencil, something. My 4th grader chose to do handmade this year (with a clever design, I might add :-) ) with Tootsie pops attached; my 1st grader did store-bought princess-y ones with one little plastic card/popout model attached (jungle animals, dinos, or planes, we love 'em and they're a dime each). One shopping trip, then the youngest's got done during her sisters' 30 minute piano lesson, so not too bad. There have been years when the kids chose too ambitious a design and were really straggling by the time they finished 20+; some years with a high homework load just finishing all that to/from writing has been a struggle.

My oldest really enjoyed making Valentines but had displaced stress/tummy-ache from the way taking that time impacted her having to power through piano practice, recorder practice for school, homework . . . cost was one tummyache dreading practice before piano and one overlate night finishing homework. . . somehow it's less the Valentines, which were fun but the final straw, and more the continuing level of work . . . gotta get that practicing spread more effectively over the week . . .

and to connect to an earlier school discussion, my Tuesday take-off-early-and-meet-the-schoolbus day is specifically designed to fit in a good piano practice session!

Lucky you guys, without Valentines' parties, we have the obligatory appearance at the classroom parties at 1 and 1:15 today --- then we will have to extract ourselves and send the kids to aftercare when so many kids are just leaving school early to go home with parents. Usually I cave and just call it a day and take my begging youngest home at that point, but we both have late afternoon teaching obligations we can't shift today . . . phooey, I hate having to extract myself from midday workday contact points. Was terrible those years when I did a midday preschool pickup, picking up then dropping dd with the sitter --- seeing her was great but during certain phases having to wrangle my way out again, not . . .

Oh, also, for the past several years the level of school parties and family/public holidays is such that their Halloween candy bins never empty: Christmas candy gets dumped in in December, Valentines' in February, Easter's in April, birthday goody bags whenever --- it never really empties out. Even with Mom scavenging in there occasionally . . .

Posted by: KB | February 14, 2007 9:23 AM

to 9:17 - no offense taken. You make a very valid point and I think the easiest answer is that I differentiate between the "big" issues - like drugs, sex, respect for everybody, strong moral convictions, etc. - with the not so big issues - like including candy in my son's valentine's day card.

Perhaps at this point it is an age thing as well. My child is young (under 5), so I'm just teaching the basics. And he isn't old enough to understand why he is the only kid in his class who didn't include candy in his valentine day's cards.

Posted by: londonmom | February 14, 2007 9:25 AM

RE: "I've seen enormous gourmet cupcakes personalized with each classmate's name in fancy script icing, lacquered doilies that look as if they belong in a vintage museum, homemade heart-shaped cookies on a stick, and last year one mom burned CDs with her child's favorite love songs. Who can keep up?"

NO. WAY. Who has time to do all of this?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I must be a horrible parent because my daughter gets a box of those Charlie Brown dinky V-day cards from CVS, addresses them herself, and the teeny boxes of conversation hearts to distribute. :-) Although for folks who hate all the influx of candy at this time - we have her put it in her candy pot and every Sunday night, and once during the week after dinner she can pick one thing to eat out of it. That way, her candy lasts a lot longer (we did this for Halloween and she was stunned how long it lasted...) and she isn't sugar overloading herself onto the fast track for Type 2 diabetes (diabetes runs deep in my family). Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Posted by: SMF | February 14, 2007 9:27 AM

Leslie - Why be so hard on yourself? It is silly to feel like a loser because some Uber-mom's main purpose in life is to make the rest of us look bad. (Sarcasm alert - any uber-mom out there and relax)

We did the sweetheart boxes for both kids. I don't feel bad at all - I am just glad we got all the names written properly.

I agree - too much candy and too much emphasis on "Holiday Parties" at school. Thankfully my daughter's 3rd grade teacher tones it down. I understand having some fun but the cupcakes, cookies, candy and "crafts" are annoying. It is too much.

Posted by: cmac | February 14, 2007 9:27 AM

Bringing in cupcakes or cookies is not necessarily one-upmanship or even trying to be a 'good mom'. Some people actually enjoy baking! Making and decorating cupcakes can be a fun parent/child activity - a chance to spend time together and do something creative. Mothers (and fathers) who do this are not looking for recognition or trying to foster competition, just looking for an outlet for their own creativity, and a quality time alternative to the TV. And they make them to send to school, because they'll never eat a whole batch of cupcakes at home.
Try not being so sensitive and paranoid. Peoples' motives aren't always bad.

Posted by: MDDAD | February 14, 2007 9:29 AM

My daughter is 3 and we got a box of Thomas cards for each of her classmates. That's it. School's cancelled, but I think the parents would be up in arms if we sent candy for 3 yr olds! I know I'd be upset if my daughter came home with an armload of candy!
We got my daughter a Valentine card this morning.
My mom always got me a cute pair of earrings (nothing expensive) or a bracelet, etc and my dad got me yellow roses each year.
My husband and I don't celebrate VDay, though- what a waste of money!

Who cares what other parents think? Why would I spend hours baking personalized cakes? Or spend upwards of $100 buying goodies? It's nice for the kids to get cards, but I always detested the Valentine grams/roses you could buy in school. It caused so much drama and hurt for the kids who didn't get anything.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 14, 2007 9:30 AM

Since there are so many objections to candy and sugar, let's do something different in the spirit of the holiday. How about spin-the-bottle?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:32 AM

I don't envy you in this Valentine's Day arms race! ;-) I celebrate Valentine's Day more because it's my BF's birthday than anything else. It's a shame that schools can't use VDay to get kids to make cards for our troops, particularly since in the DC area we have tons of soldiers recuperating in the local military hospitals. Or whatever money you would spend on cards put towards books for school library or even better the library of school less fortunate than your kid's school. It's not a Martha Stewart moment but would seem to have more value.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | February 14, 2007 9:33 AM

"Moxiemom I wish people wouldn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day with green cookies either. It means more to some people than that. Luckily, my kid is never there on that day because we always celebrate that holiday with my family in Ohio.

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 09:09 AM"

What about celebrating St. Patty's Day with Green Beer? For the adults, not the kids.

Posted by: cmac | February 14, 2007 9:34 AM

My friend calls the pressure of goodie bags the goody bag olympics. I already know that I will NEVER medal in the goodie bag olympics. $75 for goodie bags for the day care and my kid doesn't even medal. How can you medal when a parent sends in a DVD for each child (not a pirated copy mind you). Enough about birthdays, I will save that rant for birthday blog day.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 9:34 AM

My friend calls the pressure of goodie bags the goody bag olympics. I already know that I will NEVER medal in the goodie bag olympics. $75 for goodie bags for the day care and my kid doesn't even medal. How can you medal when a parent sends in a DVD for each child (not a pirated copy mind you). Enough about birthdays, I will save that rant for birthday blog day.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 9:36 AM

VD- Yet ANOTHER acronym gone wrong! VD Craziness. LMAO! I keep remembering the line from Good Morning Vietnam where he strings them all together.
Seriously, personalized cupcakes? WTF? Whatever happened to the Transformers valentines cards you buy for a dollar and scribble a note on? Some people have too much money for their own good.
If green cookies for St Patricks day is as bad as it got, fine, I will stick to my corned beef and cabbage with a side of whisky, but I could not agree more about blowing all that on one outfit that will only get worn once! Sure, get a little bit of candy, or a cheezy card, wear something red- heck I have a red shirt and I wore it today- but I do not see why we do everything to excess.

If the VIP SAHM got their DD CKs and she shared them with the other DC at HS and they somehow got VD, the SAHM would be in DS because her DH would have to go pick her up PDQ and then go to the ER or she could wind up DOA if he was stuck in traffic and then everyone would be SOL.

Posted by: Chris | February 14, 2007 9:38 AM

I've never had a green beer, but more power to ya if you like it! :)

I

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 9:41 AM

londonmom - sorry, that was me. I understand where you are coming from. I guess one of the things I enjoy about getting older is pretty much not caring about what other people think of me. I'm not much of a cook or housekeeper while many of my SAHM friends are totally into that stuff. I've decided that my role is to let them feel better about themselves (haha). My motto is "moxiemom, keeping the bar low for everyone". There are other things that I do well that they don't. We all have our skill sets and priorities. With the vast amount of peer pressure out there, I do worry about my children being able to be true to themselves - especially my dd. I think a super topic would be balancing family values with the larger culture and how do you stay true to yourself without completely excluding your kid from their peer group.(Leslie..)

The other thing that is troubling is all I hear is that there isn't enough time for extras in school like music and p.e. because of all the NCLB testing but we have time to celebrate these dumb holidays and the time when the local professional sports team makes it to the playoffs. If they have extra time, I'd rather they send my kid outside to play!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 9:41 AM

Foamgnome -- I get a lot of what you say too, so I always like to hear it when we're on the same wavelength. Did you send me your guest blog? My inbox gets swamped so if you put FoamGnome on the Re: line that will help me find it.

I think the Valentine's Day excess is like the Birthday Party Goodie Bag excess. Bizarre and wasteful of time, effort and energy. I never give Goodie Bags at parties and I am stunned by the number of children who demand them on the way out. Once we had a pony ride party and I gave out inexpensive copies of Black Beauty...that was my high water mark. A book makes such a statement of moral superiority! Can't come up with an equivalent for Valentine's Day though. Any ideas?

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 9:42 AM

londonmom - sorry, that was me. I understand where you are coming from. I guess one of the things I enjoy about getting older is pretty much not caring about what other people think of me. I'm not much of a cook or housekeeper while many of my SAHM friends are totally into that stuff. I've decided that my role is to let them feel better about themselves (haha). My motto is "moxiemom, keeping the bar low for everyone". There are other things that I do well that they don't. We all have our skill sets and priorities. With the vast amount of peer pressure out there, I do worry about my children being able to be true to themselves - especially my dd. I think a super topic would be balancing family values with the larger culture and how do you stay true to yourself without completely excluding your kid from their peer group.(Leslie..)

The other thing that is troubling is all I hear is that there isn't enough time for extras in school like music and p.e. because of all the NCLB testing but we have time to celebrate these dumb holidays and the time when the local professional sports team makes it to the playoffs. If they have extra time, I'd rather they send my kid outside to play!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 9:44 AM

VD- Yet ANOTHER acronym gone wrong! VD Craziness. LMAO! Seriously, personalized cupcakes? WTF? Whatever happened to the Transformers valentines cards you buy for a dollar and scribble a note on? Some people have too much money for their own good.
If green cookies for St Patricks day is as bad as it got, fine, I will stick to my corned beef and cabbage with a side of whisky, but I could not agree more about blowing all that on one outfit that will only get worn once! Sure, get a little bit of candy, or a cheezy card, wear something red- heck I have a red shirt and I wore it today- but I do not see why we do everything to excess.

If the VIP SAHM got their DD CKs and she shared them with the other DC at HS and they somehow got VD, the SAHM would be in DS because her DH would have to go pick her up PDQ and then go to the ER or she could wind up DOA if he was stuck in traffic and then everyone would be SOL.

I bet even the psycho astronaut mom sent valentines... Granted, they were probably on cigarette paper and written in urine and feces squeezed from her diaper, but it is the thought that counts.

Posted by: Chris | February 14, 2007 9:45 AM

So I was watching Sex and the City (for the millionth time) last night. On TBS, which jsut isn't the same, but anyway...

This was the episode in which Carrie's shoes were stolen from a party in honor of a new baby. The hostess didn't offer to pay for them and Carrie later got upset that single people didn't get gifts for anything. She had spent money on wedding showers, wedding, baby showers, but single people don't get anything.

Just a funny episode on the married v single. Thought this would be a better debate than SAHMs v WOHMs.

Posted by: sex and the city last night | February 14, 2007 9:46 AM

"Try not being so sensitive and paranoid. Peoples' motives aren't always bad.

Posted by: MDDAD | February 14, 2007 09:29 AM"

If the cookies/cupcakes looked like kids had made them, it would be one thing, but they look like a mother (or father) spent hours meticulously decorating them with not a child in sight. I do know some highly creative people that use their children's school/activities as an outlet, which is fine. But to pass it off as "me and my child working together" is usually not the case.

My point is - why let it bother you? If someone wants to spend hours decorating sugary treats - so be it.

Posted by: cmac | February 14, 2007 9:46 AM

yikes, the blog poster mechanism hijacked me. I dunno why it keeps posting. sorry!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 9:47 AM

"however, isn't it our job as parents to model behavior that we want our children to achiever"

It isn't? I thought that was a parent's job...

Posted by: Mona | February 14, 2007 9:49 AM

what's with all the double posts??!! the snow must have caused the computers to go whackya s well!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:50 AM

Ok... I take issue with another part of Leslie's post: before kids "Valentine's Day was a romantic, decidely adult holiday, celebrated with lingerie, chocolate and sex."

No, it isn't whether you have kids or not. It is a made up holiday that only people who have been dating for a short time really partake in. I'm a newlywed... we can celebrate any day with lingerie, chocolate and sex because we have NO KIDS yet, we don't have to wait until an arbitrary, artificial holiday to do so. This isn't to say we don't buy each other cards or flowers, but, for instance, tonight, our Valentine dinner is going to be pizza delivery and bottle of wine. Can't ask for better than that!

But back on the topic... the whole problem behind today's post and most days' posts is that it is all about what OTHER people think. Why does Leslie care so much? I know she isn't the only one, but this post seems to demonstrate how to create MORE problems for yourself and your "balance" out of something totally meaningless. The secret to stress free life is not caring what others think.

Posted by: JJJ | February 14, 2007 9:52 AM

"the snow must have caused the computers to go whackya s well!"

Even the computers in DC freak out over snow! Too much! haha

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 9:52 AM

Leslie, I just resent it and put Foamgnome on my subject line. Yes, I totally get what you are saying and DD does go to public school. But a good number of my friends from NY area say the same darn things. This year I gave out hard copy books of Angelina Ballerina that I bought on sale for a $1. A helium ballon, a treat sack of gold fish, fruit snacks and raisins, and a bag of pinata treats. Theme of the party was Angelina Ballerina. I thought I was way cool but one of the mothers opened up the bag and whispered, no stickers. Can you believe that? DD turned three. I think I got a thing of bubbles at parties when I was three.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 9:52 AM

Leslie,

Maybe your topic for tomorrow should be "no topic". That way no one could complain about your choice of topics!

Wait, they would complain that there is no topic, oh well!

Freida did have a Dove Dark Chocolate bar for me this a.m. And a card saying that the best thing about me was that I have her.

Younger son is now in 9th grade. No VD problems with his school. The grade school days were wonderful in so many ways but I am soooooo glad we are past those years. However, I do vote for Scooby Doo!

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 9:57 AM

Valentine's Day is about expressing affection, not an(other) opportunity for mothers to feel like everybody's giving them the stink-eye. The lacquered doilies might be striking, but they're no trustworthy measure of good mothering, and getting bent out of shape over what the other mothers have done or feeling bad about what you haven't done misses the point of the holiday. Send those CVS valentines, one for everybody in the class and the teacher, too. Have something a little out of the ordinary for dinner--one year, I served an all-red meal (at least a conversation starter). And save the real creative energy for when you and your husband are finally alone. He'll appreciate that more than the kids will appreciate the time-intensive Valentine's merchandise. Love and affection are worth celebrating; competition and embarassment aren't. Happy V Day to all.

Posted by: mamie | February 14, 2007 9:57 AM

elementary public school here has healthy policy: very few parties. Valentine's have to be for everyone. Everyone has a named lunch size paper bag where everyone puts their cards. The paper bag can not be opened until they leave school. I would say 1/2 might have some very small goodie...like very small. Most are pre-packaged. There might be one or two handmade, but obviously made by the kid.

Of course, back in the day, that is what schools did anyways. No competitions anywhere.

This year I didn't send anything in. That is the glory of having boys in middle and high school. The girls may be knocking themselves out, but the boys certainly are not. Maybe the boys are being like the parents and the girls are competing with themselves?

Posted by: dotted | February 14, 2007 9:58 AM

I really don't know where you send your kids to school! Let me know so I don't make the same mistake please! I would NEVER want to associate with the types of people Leslie and foamgnome described.
Foamgnome- you had great goodie bags- why on Earth should someone want more than that? That's more than I would ever give!

My daughter's 3rd birthday- the parents were just grateful that i had a party in the first place!! Everyone is so warm and nice- we had a great time and they were surprised I gave a little present at all (I spent money on renting a place)

I wouldn't have had a party if all of the kids and parents were spoiled brats. I had a party so the parents could get to know each other beyond drop off/pick up and so the kids could see each other outside of school.

I can only pray I keep encountering nice parents such as these. No private school for my little one- that's for sure!

Posted by: who do you people associate with? | February 14, 2007 10:00 AM

The secret to stress free life is not caring what others think.

OK, i will stop caring what my boss thinks of me!

Posted by: the original anon | February 14, 2007 10:01 AM

i am pretty strong about not giving in to the madness. it helps that my son doesn't particularily like candy. he gives out 1 valentine for everybody in his class. last year he included 1 of the safety patrols who was the older brother of a girl in his class. my son really liked the girl & the older brother. my son gave the safety patrol his valentine in front of the other safety patrols so i was afraid that the safety patrol would feel it necessary to embarrass my son to save face in front of his peers but the safety was gracious about accepting my son's valentine.

i also refuse to buy a ton of candy or cheap plastic trinkets for a goodie bag for birthday parties. last year we gave each child a plastic cup with a bag of goldfish. one boy was kinda snarky about the cup but most of the kids were fine with that.
if that kid & other parents think i'm cheap well, i guess i am. i'm not going to buy cheap plastic crapola (which can add up pretty fast) and will only get tossed later by the parents.

Posted by: quark | February 14, 2007 10:02 AM

The secret to stress free life is not caring what others think.

Can't wait until she has kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 10:03 AM

I have to admit that Leslie's and Foamgnome's experiences seem out there. But I wouldn't blame it on private school per se. 3 out of our 4 went to private school at some point. We didn't have those experiences either. But then JJJ was on to something when she spoke of not caring what other people say. We might not have had those experiences because we tend not to associate with 'those kind of people'. Self-selecting maybe? But definitely, if I heard someone say something they wouldn't be on the top of my friendship list.

Posted by: dotted | February 14, 2007 10:04 AM

My motto is "moxiemom, keeping the bar low for everyone".

moxiemom, LOL!

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 10:05 AM

Guilty as charged. I made individual heart cookies for my preschoolers class with each kids name on them. Why? Because I love to make them--because to me handmade gifts like that are sweet, thoughtful, silly expressions of--happiness. Call me crazy but I also wove paper heart baskets to put them in. I enjoyed doing it and I hope the small tokens bring a smile to my daughter's friends and their families. It is a crazy often scary world and having an excuse to have fun, be silly, and express caring is not a horrible thing.

Posted by: Peanut | February 14, 2007 10:06 AM

And while I'm on the soapbox, JJJ--Valentine's Day is a real tradition, one that can be traced back to at least the 14th century. On that day, the birds were supposed to meet in their parliament and choose their mates. Nothing about Angelina Ballerina stickers, though. And I do agree with your point about letting go of what other people might be thinking and doing what seems right for you and yours.

Posted by: mamie | February 14, 2007 10:08 AM

" $75 for goodie bags for the day care and my kid doesn't even medal."

foamgnome, are you serious? I can't believe what I'm reading today - all this insanity for preschoolers? Augh! My son's daycare class is having a party this afternoon and had a signup for volunteers, but since he's only there in the morning we won't participate.

Moxiemom, your motto rules! That will totally be me when we get to the point where there are expectations of this sort.

By the way, the high here is supposed to be a whopping 16 degrees today - brrrr.

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 10:10 AM

I just adopted moxiemom's motto.

still in denial over last night.

Posted by: dotted | February 14, 2007 10:11 AM

Single gender school - not a valentine in sight.

Posted by: Boys Only | February 14, 2007 10:12 AM

Where do you guys live that you can bake stuff for school? I have never been in a school where people can bake stuff?

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 10:12 AM

Another interesting twist on modern parenting and holidays: a previous poster mentioned that they enjoy baking. Me, too. We had a sign up sheet for food at our day care--incidentally, it requested carrot sticks and fruit in addition to cupcakes and cookies, which pleased me--but, all of the sweet goodies were to be store-bought so that staff could check ingredients for the kids with food allergies. I have to admit I was relieved that I wasn't compelled to bake cookies last night. (Even though I enjoy baking, the only thing I'm enjoying in Week 36 of pregnancy 3 is lying on the couch like a slug!) Addressed the Cars and Hello Kitty cards--each and every one to "My Friend" because the teachers find it easier to distribute cards if they're not specific--over my bagel this morning. Glad our teachers are realistic.

Posted by: niner | February 14, 2007 10:15 AM

I don't know how out there our experiences are. DD is only 3 and pretty much only know kids from day care and preschool. Only 5 kids at preschool. But my friends from the north east tell worse stories. Before you laugh at DC area, my friend in NY spent $3K on her 6 year olds birthday party. I am not kidding. She said she had $45 goodie bags for each kid. Still kind of annoyed, she didn't put a $45 goodie bag in the mail for me. Just kidding. I nearly died and to top off the madness, same friend frets about her high cc debt and little college fund for DD. I think the upper middle class has gone wild. Too much Beverly Hills 90210 in their youth.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 10:16 AM

Single gender school - not a valentine in sight.

Posted by: Boys Only | February 14, 2007 10:17 AM

Megan, I am serious. We were the only parents that did not send any goodie bags to day care when DD turned one. We were new parents and never heard of goodie bags being sent to school or day cares. After about the 10 th goodie bag that DD came home with, DH insisted DD would not be some kind of freak show. So I have thus sent in goodie bags for the last two years. I generally like to put in a sheet of stickers, a blow out, bubbles, gold fish crakers and for our big item I put in charity bands. For 16 kids that is less than $5 a bag. DD's second birthday was themed Little People. So I also included a small LP figure in each bag. Big mistake. I must have had to buy 3 or 4 sets, just to get 16 figurines. But the charity bands usually run me around $35-40 for the 16 kids with shipping. But at least the money is used to help people. The other popular goodie bag items (from other parents) are CDs, DVDs, full packets of stickers (we cheat and break up the package), hard cover books, and get this--DD got a Disney princess costume at one of the parties. Theme was obviously the Princesses. I thought that it was supposed to be just borrowed. So I sent the costume back the next day with a thank you note. Ran into the mom and she told me it was meant to be kept. It was in place of the goodie bag. I don't know where she got them. But I even bought DD a cheap one on clearance at TJMaxx and it was at least $10. I had no idea what she did for the boys. Next years theme is Madeline. So I am in the hunt for Madeline themed cheap items. I really lucked out with AB and those close out sale of a $1/book.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 10:18 AM

Peanut, it is not the ones who have the time to do it themselves, or enjoy doing it, it is the ones who spend small fortunes on a hallmark holiday for the sake of showing off. I think what you did was sweet. When I was in school the homemade treats and stuff were great, and not everyone brought them in, but as kids, we did not care too much because to us it was not a big deal so long as everyone got something and a big deal was not made over it. The annoying ones were the kids who went in with the snotzy attitude they got from their parents as they passed out their fancy gifts to their favorites.

My favorite part of V-day has always been the sweethearts with trite little sayings on them. mmmm sugar.

Posted by: Chris | February 14, 2007 10:19 AM

Great FG -- will look for your Guest Blog. Love "The Goody Bag Olympics"!

Product of a Working Mother 9:33 am post - great, great idea to try to turn Valentine's Day into a "let's help others" holiday. So much of this nuttiness comes when we focus inward too much.

Peanut -- nice to hear your nutty perspective. I will try to remember your totally understandable, respect-worthy motives next time I see some Martha Stewart worthy goodies at my daughter's preschool. It would be really funny if you attached a little tag to each basket that read: I'm really not trying to make other moms feel inadequate, I just love baking and arts and crafts! I bet everyone would feel better. A lot of this stuff is just misinterpreting other people's motives, because when I really think about it, it's obvious no one is TRYING to make other moms feel terrible. They're just expressing themselves and trying to feel good about themselves.

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 10:19 AM

Nice to see you niner!

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 10:20 AM

Leslie

Didn't even bother reading the previous posts because I just have a quick comment.

The kids don't care what the Valentine is just so long as there is candy involved. They could care less, it is the moms that give a hoot. We use our kids and various functions (valentines day, B-days, fundraisers) to show the world that we are DEEPLY involved in our children's lives. We also judge each other by the amount of effort each puts into their child's endeavors. We stopped caring about the other parents and really focus on our son and what the experience means to him.

Posted by: LM in WI | February 14, 2007 10:20 AM

NC Lawyer - thanks. Its all in how you look at it.

In being a subpar housekeeper I am actually a BETTER mother because I am stimulating my kids immune system.

By carrying an extra 15 lbs. I am actually a BETTER mother because in the event of a disaster or famine my children will have a mother while the children of the skinny minis will be orphaned!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 10:21 AM

After going all out for Halloween school treats (pumpkin-themed treat bags with a black spider tick tack toe game, halloween themed Go Fish game, and a Halloween pencil), I realized my kids were just as happy with their mini-Milky Way bars. So, I give up on spending the extra money and time. Valentines day cards were from CVS - a mini-box of Nerds stuck in the middle of a card (basically a Nerds advertisement). My kids are just as happy passing these out as the all-out Halloween treat bag...

Posted by: Liz | February 14, 2007 10:23 AM

NC Lawyer - thanks. Its all in how you look at it.

In being a subpar housekeeper I am actually a BETTER mother because I am stimulating my kids immune system.

By carrying an extra 15 lbs. I am actually a BETTER mother because in the event of a disaster or famine my children will have a mother while the children of the skinny minis will be orphaned!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 10:23 AM

Fred, if your kid is going into HS, I would worry about a VD problem. LOL.

$45 on goodie bags? OMG! maybe you could suggest a valentines goody bag for the homeless or something if people are throwing that money into junk just to be trendy. At least it would do some good.

Posted by: Chris | February 14, 2007 10:24 AM

Nice to see you niner!

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 10:27 AM

After going all out for Halloween school treats (pumpkin-themed treat bags with a black spider tick tack toe game, halloween themed Go Fish game, and a Halloween pencil), I realized my kids were just as happy with their mini-Milky Way bars. So, I give up on spending the extra money and time. Valentines day cards were from CVS - a mini-box of Nerds stuck in the middle of a card (basically a Nerds advertisement). My kids are just as happy passing these out as the all-out Halloween treat bag...

Posted by: Liz | February 14, 2007 10:27 AM

Foamgnome: what is a charity band? I am picturing the live strong bracelets...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | February 14, 2007 10:28 AM

This is the first year that we've ever done anything than a card. We always make the cards, but nothing fancy - usually colored paper and/or something printed from the computer, sometimes something a little more crafty. The children like to print each of their classmates' names and their own on the card, and that's what's important - making or giving something for/to another person. I don't understand the necessity for people to give individualized boxes of candy to each of their classmates when they're having a party with a ton of treats.

However....this year we did make something different - fudge from Family Fun magazine - little one inch squares of fudge with a "conversation heart" pressed into the top and wrapped in cellophane. We made little tags on the computer and my first grader wrote her friends' names and her own on the tags. Her class is decorating cookies in class but that's all - they're not having a party where there are 8 million treats available for consumption.

I'm sure I'll be branded one of those uber mommies but I don't care. ;o) My kids and I just think it's fun. My 4 year old handed them out at his art class yesterday and he was just thrilled to be able to give all of the other children something, even though he was the only one who did it. I think it's an opportunity to teach children the joy of giving.

Posted by: momof4 | February 14, 2007 10:28 AM

foamgnome's comments are really an eye-opener. The high cost of living in DC is always blamed on housing costs which truly are high. However, when people get into this amount of spending for things that are not necessary at all and are downright excessive, it boggles my mind. I'm not saying that you should never have celebrations and/or small gifts or goodie bags, but why does it start so early?

Posted by: xyz | February 14, 2007 10:29 AM

I remembered Valentine's Day last night after the kids had gone to bed. So I dug out a box of leftover cards from last year (phew!). Then I realized the cards were actually little treat baggies (dang!). But we happened to have plenty of leftover Halloween candy (phew!).

It felt ridiculous. But I know my daughter (4) will enjoy the ritual of putting one in every friend's cubby. And then their parents will take the candy, put it on the top shelf in their houses, and maybe we'll get it back on Halloween.

Posted by: Two kids in the Midwest | February 14, 2007 10:31 AM

I just read that a lot of this money is spent on preschool! How many people remember a lot of things from preschool or kindergarten? I only remember having a homemade costume and winning a contest on halloween, or working with my mom to make a button vest. The rest is a blur and I can not for the life of me remember who brought in cupcakes. I seriously doubt most kids are going to care or remember how much their mom spent on Valentines Day. Maybe if you bought them a book and read with them, or taught them something special, it would hold more meaning.

Posted by: Chris | February 14, 2007 10:33 AM

I think the "goodie bag olympics" mentality is something that starts well before children. I'm thinking of weddings and showers in particular. I swear the events get more extravagent every year - especially the party favors! Last baby shower I went to probably had gift favor bags worth about $50/person!! It is craziness.

Posted by: londonmom | February 14, 2007 10:34 AM

Oh, and my 12 year old made cards on the computer for all of her friends. She used graphics that were special to them (i.e. a trumpet player for her trumpet playing friend) and was creative with the message. She had a ball doing it. Once again - the point is to do something nice for someone else.

Posted by: momof4 | February 14, 2007 10:34 AM

My motto is "moxiemom, keeping the bar low for everyone".

moxiemom, LOL!

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 10:35 AM

Charity bands are little plastic bracelets that raise money for charity. They usually cost some where around 1-$3/ each plus shipping. DDs second birthday we bought the I CAN bands that raised money for Girls Inc. This year we bought the pink bands for breast cancer research. A friend had breast cancer in 2006, so it made sense. Next year, I will buy for MS because colleague has MS. The kids like them because they are like bracelets and funny enough boys and girls wear them. It raises money for charity. So my motto is if you MUST send plastic junk, at least raise $$ for charity while doing it. I also include the phamplet that tells the parents what charity it supports. It also raises awareness. I think it shows that DD comes from a family who cares about certain charities while fulfilling her goody bag olympic requirement. But that is just my take on it. I have never heard a parent or child complain about them.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 10:35 AM

Do you parents remember the things your own parents did that made growing up special? Tap into the simple pleasures and stop trying to make everything into a huge competition about who's the better parent.

Any natives remember the Veteran's Day snowstorm of 1987, when a foot fell but Fairfax County schools vascilated back and forth between delaying and closing? Anyway, the federal government must have closed that day because my Dad, who worked at the Pentagon, got to stay home. I remember him standing in the kitchen, unshaven and in his pyjamas, making hot chocolate for me, and the surprise and happiness of his unexpected presence in the kitchen at 8:30 is a memory I treasure to this day. We trudged to the bus stop and I spent a few pointless hours at school before the system caved in and got us home. I arrived at my house to find a huge snow fort constructed with huge shovel-blocks of the deep snow, with a sheet of ice for a window. Dad spent much of the remaining daylight hours engaged in snowball fights with me and the other neighborhood kids, and I played in the fort for what felt like the whole winter, even though it probably really melted a week later.

While I was growing up, my Dad was a tremendously busy man who often worked 14 hour days. He was given one of those ancient brick cell phones to stay in touch with the officer on duty during the weekends. He didn't pretend that he would have time in his life to do all sorts of regularly extraordinary things (and I guess since my Mom was able to work from home until I was a teenager they didn't have all of the same balance issues discussed in this blog) but he helped me with my homework, chose his vacation time carefully and spent quality time with me and Mom, and we'd do things on the weekends. I was always his buddy fixing stuff in the shop, working on my school projects, or outside planting azaleas.

These are the things I remember -- these are the things that mattered.

Of course, I suppose overachievement is inevitable for anyone: when the "map of Virginia" project came up, most of my classmates made sheetcakes or some dubious-looking triangle out of paper mache. My Dad, on the other hand, bought some fine mesh wire, plaster of Paris, heavy duty tacks, and modeling greenery, and "helped" me create a topographic model of Old Dominion before mounting it onto a hand-stained framed wooden platform. I was allowed to make labels for some of the major cities on his typewriter, but I don't think he even let me stick them on myself. Mom and I laugh about it to this day -- that's the best reaction to those occasional abberations! He was certainly no Homer Simpson (who makes Lisa's "Florida" costume out of an old mattress and some duct tape).

Posted by: memories | February 14, 2007 10:35 AM

Just say NO!

Posted by: experienced mom | February 14, 2007 10:36 AM

I bought Mickey Mouse valentines at the Dollar Store and my son and I filled them out and used double-sided tape to stick small packets of M&Ms to the cards. I'm sure he'll be getting some beautiful handmade valentines from some of his classmates, but I think it's overkill. He's four. He doesn't need a monogrammed, gilt-edged card that some poor child was made to slave over by an overachieving mother. The kids never care about anything but the candy.

For his birthday, we brought in an ice cream cake and special cups and plates. No gift bags. Those are for parties you throw outside of school, in my opinion. I just don't want to raise my children thinking they need all this crap.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 14, 2007 10:36 AM

Gosh, I never did anything for Valentine's. Is that because I had boys?

Valentine's is no different from Halloween or birthday parties. It's the parents who escalate things.

IMO the best birthday party we ever had was the one where we had a pirate ship theme. I made the cake like a ship and it had a big paper sail.

Somehow the paper got a bit buttery from the icing, and the candles were too close to the sail and the whole thing burst into flames!

You've never seen such looks on the faces of 8 year-old boys. It made the whole disaster worth it. The cake couldn't be eaten, we just had ice cream but nobody complained.

I think if you and your kids make the valentines or bake the cookies then whatever you do is fine. But once it degenerates into the parents staying up at night preparing the cards or doing the baking then it's no good.

Posted by: RoseG | February 14, 2007 10:39 AM

" think the "goodie bag olympics" mentality is something that starts well before children. I'm thinking of weddings and showers in particular. I swear the events get more extravagent every year - especially the party favors! Last baby shower I went to probably had gift favor bags worth about $50/person!! It is craziness."

Wow, I have never heard of gift favor bags for guests at showers other than mints wrapped up and tied with a ribbon. I have received wedding favors, but nothing extravagant there, just things like candles.

Granted, my friends are mostly beyond wedding and baby stages, so I haven't attended anything for a few years. Still, is this a DC thing or upper middle class thing or is it widespread?

Posted by: xyz | February 14, 2007 10:42 AM

"Fred, if your kid is going into HS, I would worry about a VD problem. LOL"

Ha! Ha! Ha!

I guess we should discuss what some people think BF means, other than breastfeeding!

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 10:44 AM

Moxiemom, LOL, you are making my day!

Reading Peanut's and Momof4's posts made me think about how we respond to things like this with our children. I'm picturing myself in a few years, when my son comes home with the super-spectacular gifts, and wondering whether I'll indulge my inadequacy complex by being disparaging or if I'll be able to say, "Wow, that's so nice of Ms. Peanut, she must have really enjoyed doing something like this for all of you." It seems like the way we react is as much an opportunity to model the behavior we'd like to see as the decision about what to make for the holiday ourselves. Ah, the never-ending opportunities of parenthood ;)

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 10:46 AM

NC Lawyer - thanks. Its all in how you look at it.

In being a subpar housekeeper I am actually a BETTER mother because I am stimulating my kids immune system.

By carrying an extra 15 lbs. I am actually a BETTER mother because in the event of a disaster or famine my children will have a mother while the children of the skinny minis will be orphaned!

foamgnome - awesome idea! I plan to steal it next year!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 10:46 AM

I agree with mddad -- maybe some people just like to bake (with or without their children). I have a friend just like that. And I never feel the need to compete with her -- I just enjoy the delicious treats that come my way. That is HER way of doing things. Mine is different and I've never heard her complain that I don't bake enough.

Mine are different gifts.

Posted by: surrender | February 14, 2007 10:47 AM

NC Lawyer - thanks. Its all in how you look at it.

In being a subpar housekeeper I am actually a BETTER mother because I am stimulating my kids immune system.

By carrying an extra 15 lbs. I am actually a BETTER mother because in the event of a disaster or famine my children will have a mother while the children of the skinny minis will be orphaned!

foamgnome - awesome idea! I plan to steal it next year!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 10:48 AM

I am blessedly free of complications this Valentines Day, feeling a bit like Henry Higgins... I will never let a woman in my life.

Posted by: jerry | February 14, 2007 10:48 AM

xyz: I think the party favors at showers are pretty common in DC and other areas. Also at weddings, it seems very customery. I don't think I ever threw a shower for someone, so I was never in charge of favors. I think SIL and best friend supplied favors for my wedding and baby showers. I thought they were not that extravagant. Time consuming but not expensive. The funny thing is, I think no one really CARES about the favors at those events. That is another stupid custom that forces people to waste $$.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 10:48 AM

there has been a gift bag rebellion of sorts around here. Lots of people give one small, useful item, between $1 and $3, like a small craft kit or puzzle book, play dough or bubbles. Put it in a pretty bag and it looks festive. these things actually get used.

room moms here have been asking for veggies and dip, fruit, and chips and dip for elementary school parties. I helped at one party. The kids ate all the healthy stuff!

Posted by: experienced mom | February 14, 2007 10:50 AM

moxiemom,
I agree about the 15 lbs. I know a woman who got a blood infection and dropped 30 lbs in days. If she had been real skinny who knows?

About the housekeeping, when I fret over my subpar housekeeping I remind myself that Beethoven was reknowned for being an extreme slob.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | February 14, 2007 10:51 AM

My motto is "moxiemom, keeping the bar low for everyone".

moxiemom, LOL!

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 10:35 AM

HA! I love it! No one can even crawl under my bar...........

Posted by: cmac | February 14, 2007 10:51 AM

If you need a day carved out to tell anyone that you love them, you need more help than the bloodsuckers at Hallmark can give you.

Still, I have to wonder why the kids have to be sucked in to what is deemed a romantic day?

Oh, that's right. Because if we leave out the kids, they'll be damaged for life.

Well, guess there won't be much choice today with the sprogs being home! Aw, you might not be able to go and make that brother or sister after all.

My heart weeps for you.

Posted by: NV | February 14, 2007 10:52 AM

"moxiemom, keeping the bar low for everyone":

Yesterday, Jennifer was my hero, for raising a son who appreciates how hard she works at the important things in their lives.

Today moxiemom is my Valentine, for reminding us of the importance of eliminating needless stress from our lives while adding more smiles!

Thanks, moxiemom :-)))

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 10:52 AM

Nothin'. Absolutely nothin'.

I don't have kids but I have a husband, and we both got each other nothin'. We'll probably go out to dinner on Friday...but we usually do that anyway, we'll just take the quality of the restaurant up a notch.

My husband feels some sort of vestigial guilt about this, as the girlfriend he had previous to meeting me apparently went ballistic when he just got her a dozen roses and took her out to a nice but not wallet-emptying dinner. Apparently she expected a piece (or perhaps two) of expensive jewelry, to be drowned in creative and thoughtful bouquets (which makes me laugh - 7 years together and my husband still can't remember I don't like red roses ;) ), and to be taken to dinner at a $100/head restaurant. Despite the fact they'd been dating for maybe two months at that point. (No wonder he broke up with her...)

I keep telling him that I just don't care about V-Day. It's manufactured and I think until I met him, boyfriends and V-Day never seemed to match up...unless you count hanging out with that standby duo of Ben & Jerry ;) And I prefer spontaneous romantic moments to moments created by external pressure. Sure, they're fewer, but they mean more.

I told him he should just be happy that while all his friends and colleagues are scrambling to find presents for their wives and girlfriends, he gets to sit back and merely observe....

Posted by: Chasmosaur | February 14, 2007 10:57 AM

Tip of the day:If you live in Fairfax and did not know or forgot to send it sugar junk to school, buy the discount candy tomorrow morning and send it on Thursday( for us it will be Monday)LOL.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 11:07 AM

Foamgnome -- love your Guest Blog. will try to run it next Tuesday.

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 11:09 AM

Tip of the day:If you live in Fairfax and did not know or forgot to send it sugar junk to school, buy the discount candy tomorrow morning and send it on Thursday( for us it will be Monday)LOL.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 11:10 AM

Don't sweat it. I remember squat about the quality of Valentine's cards or treats from elementary school. I remember none of the designs of the shoeboxes with holes cut in the top to put cards in. No one in my class ever mentioned having favorite Valentine's traditions. If asked to list the 100 best things I remember about childhood, nothing about Valentine's goodies would make the list, assuming I even remembered to consider it.

Valentine's Day for your kids is like a high school valedictory speech: You can work hard on it if you want, but no one but you is going to much care about it.

Posted by: Daddy-O | February 14, 2007 11:12 AM

moxiemom - LOL at your setting the bar low comment - but I'm also scratching my head at how giving all the kids in the class *money* is setting the bar low for cheapo parents like me! ;o)

Posted by: momof4 | February 14, 2007 11:14 AM

I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in early elementary school, so that was the end of celebrating special days at school with sugar treats for me. the other kids would stand around me and exaggerate how good the candy tasted and act like they were savoring every bite along with the taunt "Ha Ha a- Ha Ha, you can't have any". Needless to say, Halloween and Valentine's Day are not my favorite days of the year.

Now I'm married to a hopeless romantic, and I dislike caving into the marketeers that promote buying and giving material gifts as an act of love. I'm more into doing something that requires effort, like, rubbing her feet for an hour as she sips her favorite red wine and watches the Home and Garden channel...

Or do you think she would rather have me run up the credit card bill and order the roses?

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 14, 2007 11:15 AM

Leslie, Can you run it on Feb 28 th instead? I am out of the office half a day next Tuesday. I am really curious to hear the reactions to the blog.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 11:16 AM

Sure -- Foamgnome will run Feb 28. It is GREAT.

Perfect snow day here so far. Kids watching their Valentine's Day movies. Husband coming home at 2 pm to take them sledding and then we are going to walk to the local movie theatre for more movies.

Yes!

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 11:24 AM

I just adopted moxiemom's motto.

still in denial over last night.

Posted by: dotted | February 14, 2007 10:11 AM

dotted, I am as well. (I haven't told you that abc has been supplanted in my lexicon by "abvt", what with needless expansion and all.)

We've found that the trick to eliminating housekeeping-related anxiety is to adopt friends with the same low or lower standards. Then when they knock on the door, I don't immediately glance to the left and right and count those dustbunnies (Fred can't see them anyway) before greeting them.

oh, and about the ever-increasing-value of gift bags at weddings --it's a problem not limited to DC/NYC. We routinely see it in Winston-Salem and in the Triangle. Also, we attended a wedding in Knoxville last summer at which all guests had what I estimated to be $50 gift baskets waiting for us in our hotel rooms (guests paid for the rooms), the gifts for the bridal attendants were easily $40 - 50 a pop, and each of the nieces and nephews who had momentary roles, at best, in the wedding received gifts that cost $5 - 10 a piece (cd holders for the boys, and mini-pouch-handbags for the girls). The budget for this peripheral stuff probably represented 10% of the wedding budget. It's nuts.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 11:24 AM

Momof4 - I knew I couldn't compete with the fancy bags of stuff so I just thought it would be different and the kids might get kind of excited about seeing a new kind of money. Also we have very small classes so I'm only out about $15.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 11:25 AM

resistance in NOT futile! you can hold out against the insanity. I live in DC area and the first time I heard of goody bags was when I was planning my wedding. Nope, didn't do it. Kids birthday? we had a "group play date", no mention of birthday, thus no one felt the need to bring presents. The kids had a blast jumping on the bed and were pretty excited that they each got a ballon (35 cents x 4). We had cake later with grandma and grandpa and had more than enough presents from them than he could even open at once. True, I am sometimes seen as "unorthodox" but a) I don't care and b) most of the other parents seem relieved to declare detente once they get over the shock/amusement.

Posted by: toddlermomslacker | February 14, 2007 11:29 AM

moxiemom - I think it was a great idea. It's just that here the bar is already lower (obviously) LOL because my kids have never brought home treat bags from individual kids on VD - the occasional box of sweethearts or a Hersheys kiss or a roll of lifesavers, yes, but not elaborate stuff. So a fifty cent piece would be a real haul!! ;o)

I've never been to a wedding where there *are* even gift bags, much less the gift baskets and elaborate bags that NC Lawyer describes. The most "elaborate" birthday parties any of my kids have ever been is at the indoor soccer park or gym where they had a soccer or cheerleading lesson and then cake afterwards. Loot bags are cheap plastic crap with a few pieces of candy. We're just backwards here. ;o)

Posted by: momof4 | February 14, 2007 11:33 AM

Oh my God! I let my kids eat candy on Valentine's day. Horror. I even let them eat some when we were on vacation last year. Wait I think they had some last weekend. I gave my son a mint this morning at the bus stop because he still had milk breath after brushing his teeth. All the parents are judging me.

My daughter made five Valentines for her teacher. She wanted to. I had nothing to do with it except I do supply glue, crayons, paper and other craft items at our house. Maybe I should throw all of it out. Maybe I should have thrown out her Valentines and told her it was too much.

On second thought . . .

Posted by: Not busy | February 14, 2007 11:35 AM

I'm with you momof4. My boys are still in preschool (2.5 and 5), but we always try to turn these holidays into fun family activities, not to mention the dreaded "teachable moments" ;-)

Last year DS#1 and I made valentines. We included a packet of radish seeds in each one with instructions for growing in doors. We wrote these instructions together, talking about how to plant and what happens at each stage.

This year, since DS#2 is also in school, we went the baking route. We made the cookies together. DS#1 found the right measuring cups and DS#2 filled them up it up, then they took turns dumping stuff in the mixer (way messy but lots of fun). We then had a blast decorating the cookies for each class (no Martha Stewart cookies here!).

I know this sounds like a lot of time, but really it's not. Grand total we spent 35 minutes after dinner one night making the dough and icing, 45 minutes the next night cutting and baking the cookies, and 30 minutes last night icing and decorating. I would have spent this time with them anyway, so why not on Valentine's Day? (FYI, for those who don't bake, you can buy all this stuff pre-made and just spend the 30 minutes icing and decorating, so there's no need to channel la Martha.)

One of the things that seems to come through in many of today's comments is that the parents are the ones doing all the crazy things - without any input or help from the kids. Perhaps that's why so many of us are feeling resentful and/or inadequate.

Finally, we are both Irish-American and Catholic, so St. Pat's is a big deal. We signed up for "international snack" on the 17th last year, brought in store bought soda bread and a children's book on how so many generations of Irish Americans have kept that heritage alive. This is something our school does at least every other week, with families bring in everything from chuppatis to empanadas. The kids love it, and so do most of the parents (and grandparents and various other relatives recruited to speak about their heritage).

Anyway, the point of all this is that you don't have to be uber-mom to be creative and involve your kids. It just takes a little thought.

Here endith the sermon.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | February 14, 2007 11:37 AM

momof4: I think the gift baskets at weddings are for out of town guests only. It is to thank them for coming so far and paying for a hotel and stuff. I gave super cheap ones at my wedding. I have gone to weddings where it is merely a gesture (like mine) or really nice. Some have elaborate snacks and wine. Sometimes they come with phamphlets about tourist attractions in the area. Just in case, your guests extend their stay to see the sites. DC is good for that one. I tell you a secret, I put Metro maps in all of mine. You know the kind you pick up at the station for FREE.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 11:37 AM

I had a total "bad mom" moment last night. As I'm walking my daughter up for bed, she says, "tomorrow, I'm going to bring in 21 cards and candies for all my classmates for Valentine's Day!" And I thought, oh, sh--, that's right. Looked outside at the sleet and snow and my ice-covered car, looked at my watch, which said 7:30, and realized my girl was SOL. She, of course, had it all planned out -- she was going to go back to her pumpkin (her Halloween pumpkin has turned into the candy repository) and pick out one thing for each kid. But we had no cards, no fresh candy, none of the brown paper bags she wanted to put it in and decorate (not to mention nothing to decorate with) -- nothing. And of course, being 5, she had absolutely no clue about the need to plan and shop for that stuff -- as far as she knows, all of the necessary items just magically appear when she needs them. So why wouldn't the paper bags and red paper be there for tomorrow?

So after bedtime, I went on-line and found a sheet of cards (8 per page) to download and print -- we're stuck with the crappy paper we have in the house, but at least it's something. Figured she could cut them out as her morning activity during the school delay. Luckily, school was cancelled, so I got a reprieve. But then again, I'm sure not heading out in this weather just to drop $20 on nicer stuff, so I'll still be bad mom. Oh well -- she might as well get used to it now, because it has precisely 0% chance of changing. :-)

One other annoyance: her class was supposed to have a V-Day party. But the sign-up sheet this time specified homemade treats only. Now, usually, I'm one of those moms who bakes -- horrible at decorating, but I enjoy the baking, and have discovered that sprinkles can hide a whole variety of sins. Plus I figure homemade is usually cheaper, and at least I know what's in it. But it really bugged me that all of a sudden, the school is specifying that things MUST be homemade. So as a result, I didn't sign up for anything -- last party, I had a work crisis and sick kid the night before, so it was Safeway or nothing. Without that fallback available, I didn't want to risk volunteering for anything and either possibly disappoint the kids or run myself ragged baking if something comes up. It's just weird, because it's the first time I've felt a little bit excluded as a WOHM there, since I can't guarantee that I'll have time to bake.

Posted by: Laura | February 14, 2007 11:38 AM

FYI, the mother didn't necessarily violate copyright law by burning CDs with her kids favorite love songs. It's not like she SOLD the CDs for profit! If she bought the music, isn't just like making a mixed tape?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 11:41 AM

Just stop and think for a moment and remember that there are many women who never married or had children at all, how must they feel on Valentine's Day? The most successful career can't fill that void. Get some perspective and realize that you're the lucky one.

Posted by: Linda | February 14, 2007 11:43 AM

Earlier, someone wondered when parents started giving their kids gifts for Valentine's Day -- And I can help with that one: my parents were NUTS about gift-giving when I was growing up. Every holiday (and because my mom was Serbian Orthodox, we got an extra Easter and an extra Christmas) was a reason to give a gift. St. Nicholas Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas (plural, though the second usually merited just one thing), two bursting Easter baskets for the Easters (oh, how sad we were when they fell on the same day), etc., etc. I swear I remember getting something on St. Patrick's, though I may be fuzzy there. Even when I was in college, my mom sent a little something on Valentine's Day. Now that they are grandparents, they're back at it! My son got two stuffed toys for V-day, nephews the same. My dad asked me what I got my nephews. To which I of course replied, "nothing." He was very concerned about this. My reaction to my gift-receiving childhood, as I course through to my mid-30s, is to be the opposite. My husband and I barely exchange Christmas gifts! But I do have fond memories of the holidays, both of the gifts (hey, who doesn't love presents), and the surrounding fuss about the days. St. Nicholas Day was especially fun, with stockings filled with oranges and nuts. And of course, a great meal to go with it all.

This is a long, rambling way to say that I think the gift-giving, and cookie-making bonanza depends a lot on the individual parent. Some parents love doing it, either because they think that's what parents do, or because they want to give their kids something they didn't have growing up. I don't know. I doubt I'll be showering my kids with stuffed toys on every conceivable occasion, but I'll probably be the mom sending in decorated heart cookies. Unless by then schools have completely banned treats of any nature!

Posted by: writing mommy | February 14, 2007 11:46 AM

Just stop and think for a moment and remember that there are many women who never married or had children at all, how must they feel on Valentine's Day? The most successful career can't fill that void. Get some perspective and realize that you're the winner.

Posted by: Mrs. Smith | February 14, 2007 11:47 AM

foamgnome, maybe the "stickers" comment was because the mom was totally sick of getting gift bags with stickers? I know I check the gift bags for stickers and take them out and hide them away. When they get on our hard wood floor, it can take a lot of time and elbow grease to get them off. tiny play dough cans are a big hit. Love the charity band idea-- our son wears a red one I brought from a fire station to raise money for fire fighter widow/ widowers. Next birthday party I think we will steal your idea and make them the party favor. thanks for sharing the great idea!

Posted by: mimi | February 14, 2007 11:49 AM

"rubbing her feet for an hour as she sips her favorite red wine and watches the Home and Garden channel..."

Father of 4, as you no doubt know, you've come up with a far better gift than money can buy :>)

Chasmosaur, I am rather partial to the $1.50 rose from 7-11 purchased on the way home by my husband, but now that we don't have a 7-11 nearby, he's entirely off the hook for everything but being a really nice guy each 2/14. I also was the low-maintenance girl who followed a string of high-maintenance girls. Once you have joint checking, anyway, an expensive gift just means I have to find a place in the budget to pay for it -- no fun at all.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 11:50 AM

Earlier, someone wondered when parents started giving their kids gifts for Valentine's Day -- And I can help with that one: my parents were NUTS about gift-giving when I was growing up. Every holiday (and because my mom was Serbian Orthodox, we got an extra Easter and an extra Christmas) was a reason to give a gift. St. Nicholas Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas (plural, though the second usually merited just one thing), two bursting Easter baskets for the Easters (oh, how sad we were when they fell on the same day), etc., etc. I swear I remember getting something on St. Patrick's, though I may be fuzzy there. Even when I was in college, my mom sent a little something on Valentine's Day. Now that they are grandparents, they're back at it! My son got two stuffed toys for V-day, nephews the same. My dad asked me what I got my nephews. To which I of course replied, "nothing." He was very concerned about this. My reaction to my gift-receiving childhood, as I course through to my mid-30s, is to be the opposite. My husband and I barely exchange Christmas gifts! But I do have fond memories of the holidays, both of the gifts (hey, who doesn't love presents), and the surrounding fuss about the days. St. Nicholas Day was especially fun, with stockings filled with oranges and nuts. And of course, a great meal to go with it all.

This is a long, rambling way to say that I think the gift-giving, and cookie-making bonanza depends a lot on the individual parent. Some parents love doing it, either because they think that's what parents do, or because they want to give their kids something they didn't have growing up. I don't know. I doubt I'll be showering my kids with stuffed toys on every conceivable occasion, but I'll probably be the mom sending in decorated heart cookies. Unless by then schools have completely banned treats of any nature!

Posted by: writing mommy | February 14, 2007 11:51 AM

Woah Linda, I think many people on this board would disagree with you about the "void".

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 11:53 AM

To Linda: Cheap shot and totally unnecessary. I don't have children but I take joy in giving and receiving Valentines - my mom still sends me one and this year I made them for all my girlfriends and their children.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | February 14, 2007 11:58 AM

mim: That could be the case. I don't remember what that mom gave in her goody bags. Maybe it was stickerless. My Austrian friend said stickers are a must. I didn't realize stickers were not always appreciated by the parents. DD uses stickers to put on herself. I dread what may come next-tatoo.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 11:58 AM

that is because dust bunnies are sage green!

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 12:00 PM

mim: That could be the case. I don't remember what that mom gave in her goody bags. Maybe it was stickerless. My Austrian friend said stickers are a must. I didn't realize stickers were not always appreciated by the parents. DD uses stickers to put on herself. I dread what may come next-tatoo.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 12:02 PM

'Apparently everyone in his class is bringing valentines and I don't want him to feel like the slacker. But I'm not going to spring for Hallmark cards for everyone. that's silly. They're two!'

Do you really think that a two-year-old is going to feel like a slacker?

What are you going to do when he is in middle school and wants to keep up with everyone else?

____

Even babies are aware of being outside the norm. When my oldest was in daycare as a baby, I would see the last baby waiting for his parents at the very end of the day: he was always carried up to the front desk because his parents were always late. He knew they were late and he hated it.

I think you are looking at this too much like a grownup. Little kids love to bring in stuff for other people. Last time I ignored a holiday my little guy looked around and said, "where my cards?" meaning where are the cards HE could give to others. Kids enjoy giving to others and it's a perfectly acceptable way to make them feel like part of the group. Obviously it should be within reason but I think that going out of one's way to UNNECESSARILY exclude one's own kid from the social norms of his group is a mean way to make him feel like a weirdo. Little rituals are part of how kids learn there are social cues in life and that they are capable of following them. And, yes, I was the one whose mom and dad refused to observe these "silly holidays" as a kid. And, yes, I was ostracized for it by my peers. So, no, I don't want to do that to my kid.

Now, observing social norms doesn't necessarily mean keeping up with the Joneses. I think adults should have a sense of reasonableness and follow it. Cards: yes. Bags full of expensive DVDs: no.

Posted by: m | February 14, 2007 12:05 PM

Unicef has published their reoprt on the wellness of children in the 21 rich and industrialized counteries, covering a comprehensive number of catogories, girls, short of your girl friends in Britan you are the absolute worst parents in the study. You do a miserable job of raising children, you are failures in every catogory, read the report, PDF's at Unicef, Google news and the BBS. Happy Valentines day.

Posted by: mcewen | February 14, 2007 12:05 PM

I wonder if this is one of my "rewards" for NOT being upper-middle class :)

I don't remember my son bringing home much candy the last couple years, and I know they don't have parties at his school. This year, I asked him if he wanted to pick out valentines (yeah, the cheap CVS kind) for his class and he looked at me like he wished Valentine's Day would die a slow, cruel death. So I didn't buy any. I do make handmade valentines for my family that I send every year - but when it comes to my kid, I try to follow his lead. If he seemed interested in baking something and making homemade cards, I would probably go all out to help him, but I agree with the posters who've said it should be about the family activity as opposed to something you just HAVE to do. I certainly don't feel like a bad mom if someone contributes more in this particular area.

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 14, 2007 12:06 PM

No school here today because of some snow.

But lots of thoughts on my favorite holiday.

WAY BACK: When I was a kid in the frozen midwest I was almost always sick at this time of year - strep throat, usually. So I missed my FAVORITE holiday most Valentine's Days. I would decorate my Valentine mailbox (a shoe or tissue box) at school. At home, I would carefully sort the store-bought packet of colorful valentines, trying to pick just the right one for each classmate. My hand would cramp from signing 40-50 valentines. If you gave out valentines, you had to give one to every classmate. (But us girls would sometimes sneak in an EXTRA one, often mushier and unsigned, to our favorite boys.) I would usually get my filled box a couple days late. The teacher (usually a nun) would hand out a very SMALL treat to each child.

I recently found an envelope full of these old valentines, which my husband received in about 3rd grade - saved by his mom. I thin I'll display them tonight as a surprise.

BACK: My own sons reluctantly gave out valentines for a few years but stopped as soon as they could! haha

NOW: I'll make a chocolate pie for tonight and toss a few candy hearts on the whipped cream! But I usually try harder. haha

NEXT: And for you current moms & dads - next year: encourage your child to think up an original, but simple Valentine idea - just ONE - that will amuse their frinds and let the simplicity serve as an example to all those nutty, over-wrought parents and kids. (Maybe an original knock-knock joke, an origami figure, etc. Two red paperclips inserted at an angle to each other in the corner of a 3 x 5 index card (maybe pink?) make a heart-decorated valentine. I just thought of that this minute.)

I guess I still love Valentine's day for what it represents, despite all the hype, even though I very seldom receive any cards, let alone gifts! Share the like and the love!

Posted by: boomerette | February 14, 2007 12:07 PM

lINDA
"Just stop and think for a moment and remember that there are many women who never married or had children at all, how must they feel on Valentine's Day?"

I'm confused. What do you mean?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 12:08 PM

Happy Valentines Day to you, mcewen. at least we're not bitter, bitter boys no one wants to play with.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 12:09 PM

We are loving VD, but the highlight was putting together a party for the babysitter who picks our 3 and 5 year old boys up from preschool two days a week. We set up the kitchen table with balloons, napkins, etc., made her a card, and picked out a battery-powered Triceratops for a VD present for her. They loved putting together the party and I know she'll be thrilled when she walks in and sees that we've set up a party in her honor.

Posted by: michigander | February 14, 2007 12:09 PM

To: mcewen,
You must be the most unhappy person in the world. The only posts you ever make are totally inane and have an agenda that I can only imagine would be counterproductive to any decent human relationship. Please crawl back into your hole unless you have something useful.

Posted by: DC lurker | February 14, 2007 12:12 PM

To Rose G at 10:39 AM comment: I loved your birthday cake story -I am sure all the boys will remember that party long after all others are forgotten! hahaha

Posted by: boomerette | February 14, 2007 12:14 PM

I always send V-days cards to my adult daughters.

But no stickers or candy.

They just want money. None of that either!

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 12:14 PM

My 4-year-old daugther's school tried to keep Valentine's Day under control -- a few parents were to bring in cookies to decorate. Also the parents were given a "simple" assignment: on a sheet of paper, we had to write what our definition of "love" is. Turns out, when you think about it, that's a BIG question. It might have been easier to bake, color code, and personalize cupcakes for every kid in the class...

So, anyone? How do YOU define love? How do you define love to a four year old?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | February 14, 2007 12:15 PM

Linda,
I am single with no children and I am very happy - Valentine's Day or not. Do not feel sorry for me.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 12:15 PM

linda, when I was single I certainly didn't live my life as a void. It was exciting and fun and I had (and still have) fabulous single girlfriends who supported me. My single girlfriends are living a great life, though very diffferent from my own.

Posted by: mimi | February 14, 2007 12:17 PM

I generally don't really care what other people think and thank goodness I have never seen monogramed cupcakes! My kids made their own valentines and we would stick a small candy on it.

Foamgnome's goodie bags sounded terrific. When my kids were small we would have birthday parties on the Mall. I would take a small group of kids to the Smithsonian, specifically the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery which has a fabulous free kids program called ImaginAsia. After doing the ImaginAsia thing, all the kids were treated to 1 or 2 merry-go-round rides and we would have a picnic on the mall. The kids go home with something special they made themselve in the program. One year it was Chinese dragons another clay tiles that they decorated after looking at pottery in the gallery.
All the kids loved it. I wish I still had small kids because now I can't really go to ImaginAsia! :)

Posted by: Pink Plate | February 14, 2007 12:17 PM

boomerette, love your post! I remember my friends and I sitting around "analyzing" the valentines we got from our favorite boys trying to discern if there was some hidden message in the way they signed their name, or if they were the kind that said, "I like you" or "let's be friends" or "Be Mine" instead of just "Happy Valentine's Day" :)

Oh yes, and I do give my son something on Valentine's Day - a valentine card and candy - cheap and easy but (in my humble opinion) still shows that I love him and am thinking of him!

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 14, 2007 12:19 PM

Linda,
I am single with no children and I am very happy - Valentine's Day or not. Do not feel sorry for me.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 12:19 PM

I always send V-day cards to my adult daughters.

But no stickers or candy.

They just want money. None of that either!

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 12:19 PM

Here's my problem: My family goes overboard not just on Valentine's Day, but every little holiday. I do birthday cards and Christmas cards for people I won't see around the holidays, as well as Mother's and Father's Day. I might even do a spontaneous "Get Well" or "Thinking of You" card if an accasion arises.

But I just don't see the point in paying for cards and postage for minor holidays such as Valentines, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. Sometimes I even get gifts for these occasions.

Is it rude of me to not sent cards for these holidays when I know the rest of my family will send me one? Should I cave, or just enjoy getting some mail that isn't a bill or credit card offer?

Posted by: catmommy | February 14, 2007 12:19 PM

I generally don't really care what other people think and thank goodness I have never seen monogramed cupcakes! My kids made their own valentines and we would stick a small candy on it.

Foamgnome's goodie bags sounded terrific. When my kids were small we would have birthday parties on the Mall. I would take a small group of kids to the Smithsonian, specifically the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery which has a fabulous free kids program called ImaginAsia. After doing the ImaginAsia thing, all the kids were treated to 1 or 2 merry-go-round rides and we would have a picnic on the mall. The kids go home with something special they made themselve in the program. One year it was Chinese dragons another clay tiles that they decorated after looking at pottery in the gallery.
All the kids loved it. I wish I still had small kids because now I can't really go to ImaginAsia! :)

Posted by: Pink Plate | February 14, 2007 12:19 PM

Here's my problem: My family goes overboard not just on Valentine's Day, but every little holiday. I do birthday cards and Christmas cards for people I won't see around the holidays, as well as Mother's and Father's Day. I might even do a spontaneous "Get Well" or "Thinking of You" card if an accasion arises.

But I just don't see the point in paying for cards and postage for minor holidays such as Valentines, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. Sometimes I even get gifts for these occasions.

Is it rude of me to not sent cards for these holidays when I know the rest of my family will send me one? Should I cave, or just enjoy getting some mail that isn't a bill or credit card offer?

Posted by: catmommy | February 14, 2007 12:21 PM

When do kids stop giving out Valentine's to everyone in their class? 5th or 6th grade?

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 12:22 PM

I'm not religious, but don't think Easter is a "minor holiday". In fact, isn't it a big deal for Christians, something about Jesus waking up again??

Posted by: to Catmommy | February 14, 2007 12:24 PM

mcewen,

if you read about the report (bbc.co.uk is best) it is about what countries out of the 21 are the least good overall for children. nowhere does it blame women. actually, it is a really compelling report. Holland was first, and interview I saw this morning they attributed it to the close knit culture and the importance they place on family.

Posted by: jessker 10 | February 14, 2007 12:24 PM

mcewen, if you are going to post such nasty statements at least get your facts right. The UNICEF report speaks mainly to government policy - it has very little to do with parents.

Yes - one category is "whether children feel loved, cherished, special and supported, within the family and community," but the emphasis is really on whether the family and community are being supported by public policy and governmental resources.

Posted by: londonmom | February 14, 2007 12:26 PM

jessker 10,
mcewen will never get what you are saying as he only sees what he wants to see so, if you don't agree with him he will ignore your comment.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 12:27 PM

"I'm not religious, but don't think Easter is a "minor holiday"."

It's not a minor holiday, but it also isn't one that necessitates a store-bought card and gift, at least for adults. I know kids do the whole look-for-easter-eggs thing.

Posted by: catmommy | February 14, 2007 12:28 PM

I'm not religious, but don't think Easter is a "minor holiday". In fact, isn't it a big deal for Christians, something about Jesus waking up again??

OMG, best post of the day. Moxiemom gets second best post. Easter is the biggest holiday for Christians. It was the day Christ was resurrected from the dead. Too funny.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 12:28 PM


Here is a Valentine's Day cupcake to all who post and lurker here. Singles and married, SAH, WAH, FT at office, whomever. Only one per person please. Since I am giving them out, they are chocolate cake with white cream icing. Very fattening but very good.

(A few sprinkles are on top of the icing to hide my lack of finite motor skills.)

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 12:28 PM

My son is in 4th grade and we didn't do valentines this year, though I imagine a lot of the students in his class will. I think kids probably do it through 5th grade in this area because after that they are in middle school. Where I grew up, 6th grade was still elementary school, so I think I we handed out valentines until then.

Foamgnome, I love your charity bracelet idea! My son and his friends have lots of them and always like getting them - I think you're right that they're a great gender-neutral token that's not junkfood!

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 14, 2007 12:29 PM

ok., bummed to not be best post of the day. However, I have always found it to be funny how Easter which is the foundation for all of Christianity is treated so secondarily to Christmas. If we want to celebrate spring, candy and bunnies let's go, but that celebration should be separate from the pretty significant holy day. I'm actually surprised at how many Christians have bought into and support the bunnies and candy.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 14, 2007 12:35 PM

moxiemom:I think it depends on your family. In my family, Easter was a HUGE deal. I hate to tell you this but lots of presents came. And no, Jesus did not bring the presents nor did the Easter bunny. We just got them from our parents. But we also had a huge meal and new clothes. That was always a highlight. Mom would go down to JCPennys on the Monday following Palm Sunday to buy clothes that have already been discounted because Palm Sunday had already passed. BTW, Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. But DH who also grew up Catholic, thought Christmas was the biggest holiday. It could be location. NY versus PA. Not sure.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 12:41 PM

"I'm actually surprised at how many Christians have bought into and support the bunnies and candy"

Is it much different then the secular vs. religious debate over Christmas? The bunnies and candy have nothing to do with Easter but that they are celebrated together has the same problems as Christmas.

For us it is explaining the significance of the Holy Day and trying put the Secular in perspective - which is a monumental task.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: CMAC | February 14, 2007 12:44 PM

Dang, I must have tripped on moxiemoms bar... and not slipped on the ice as I had previously thought. Gotta watch where you put that thing!

VD cupcakes? Call the health inspector! Shut down the blog! We need a quarantine here ASAP! The Post is not using SSL encryption for protection and we could get infected! ;)

Posted by: Chris | February 14, 2007 12:47 PM

Leslie - here it stops when they start middle school, which is also when they don't have *a* class anymore but 6 or 7 of them. I'm not sure if the K-8 schools where they still have self contained classrooms through 8th grade exchange Valentines past the 5th grade. I would guess probably not - or at least not in an organized fashion where they make boxes and the children bring one for everyone (if they choose to participate) and not just their special friends.

Posted by: momof4 | February 14, 2007 12:48 PM

Can't believe how far overboard some of the preschool goodie-bag arms-races are going!

About a week ago I cut out 24 card-size hearts out of red construction paper. My 5-year-old preschooler hand-decorated each of them, with marker or stickers or both. Then she got some writing practice by writing the classmate's name and her own on the back of each.

It definitely took some mommy-effort to get her to finish this project by last night (though she started very enthusiastically). But THAT'S what I call mommy-effort well spent, with very little money involved.

Goodie-bags, schmoodie-bags.

Posted by: AnnieJo | February 14, 2007 12:55 PM

Good point about Easter. I enjoyed learning how the catholic church realigned holy days to the pagan ones. Funny how Easter always takes a back seat to Christmas as far as how much celebrating goes on, but then again, I do love my little hollow chocolate bunny with sugar eyes and bow-tie... and cadburry cream eggs... my teeth hurt just thinking about them. yum.

Posted by: Chris | February 14, 2007 12:55 PM

So, I'm interested in hearing what you think about this. My 4 1/2 yr old is in preschool/daycare. They were asked to bring in 30 cards for their classmates, signed by my child, but not specifically addressed to any child. They say it's just too difficult for the teachers to distribute otherwise. HUH? My child is 4 1/2 yrs old, more than able to recognize friend's names and distribute the cards herself. We were both terribly disappointed. I remember picking out a specific card for each classmate - made it much more personal. Now, the kids will get 30 cards that were just randomly dropped in the bag, by the teacher nonetheless. I think it's sending the wrong message to the kid about what the holiday is about. For kids, it should be about sending a message of friendship to classmates, not about getting anonymous cards.

Now, if that's not bad enough, my son's class at the same center (for after school care) did the same thing! If you can't expect school age children to individually address cards and distribute them, then we have much bigger problems out there!

Posted by: LoudounMom | February 14, 2007 1:02 PM

Fred - thanks! I needed a cupcake....
Did everyone in the D.C. area get into work OK?

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 1:05 PM

How many of us are telecommuting on this snowy day?

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 1:05 PM

"Once you have joint checking, anyway, an expensive gift just means I have to find a place in the budget to pay for it -- no fun at all."

OMG, NC Lawyer, you so hit it on the head.

Now that partner's out of work, we're scaling things back for V-Day - last year it was fancy dinner, $20 or so gifts for DD and partner from me, partner splurged and bought me jewelry (which I was hard pressed to be too upset about - it was less than $100). This year, we're doing McDonalds (the one with the air hockey tables!) and our yearly tradition - renewing our fishing licenses!

This will be the third year in a row we've done this - we did it as a lark the first year I was in Arkansas, since we did the big 'hotel, dinner, jewelry' thing the week before (when we got engaged) when DD was at her other house. Now it's the highlight of our V-Day - DD and partner get to run around the sporting goods store for a long time (I don't complain, since this is the only time they make me do this) and then every time we open our wallets and see the license we smile. The few dollars we spend on the license is my favorite gift of all. :-)

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | February 14, 2007 1:12 PM

Pretty sure Easter wasn't realigned to fit pagan calendars. Wasn't the Last Supper a Passover seder? That sets its date (on the lunar calendar).

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 1:12 PM

okay, my kid will be home from preschool any minute with dad. I will keep you all updated on what she got for V-day.

I am not even sure I want to look in the bag, but I am starting to slump a little so maybe all her candy will give me a boost.

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 1:14 PM

OK, so Easter vs. Christmas debate aside, should I automatically send cards to relatives just because they send them to me, or should I stand my ground and only send ones I think are necessary?

Partially I don't send cards for every "holiday" because of commercialization. Partially I don't send them because I'm busy and think it's a waste of money. A phone call is more personal and I have free long distance.

And about Easter, my family always made a huge deal about it -- Easter egg hunt, new dress, new white shoes that would give me blisters, sometimes a ridiculous hat (a hat on a child!). We would go to church, eat a nice brunch afterward, etc. But without all the fanfare, is a card necessary?

Posted by: catmommy | February 14, 2007 1:14 PM

Catlady - Easter falls around the spring equinox, which was celebrated by the pagans. Apparently, that is where the Easter symbols of bunnies, chicks and eggs came from.

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 1:15 PM

Here is a Valentine's Day cupcake to all who post and lurker here. Singles and married, SAH, WAH, FT at office, whomever. Only one per person please. Since I am giving them out, they are chocolate cake with white cream icing. Very fattening but very good.

(A few sprinkles are on top of the icing to hide my lack of finite motor skills.)

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 12:28 PM

Fred, Chocolate with white icing. Yum. Before I accept your generous offer, do I get the trip to visit the Fae with your cupcake? If not, I'm waiting to see if scarry makes a better offer.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 1:18 PM

"Wasn't the Last Supper a Passover seder? That sets its date (on the lunar calendar)."

Since Easter is always on a Sunday, your argument doesn't really make sense.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 1:18 PM

Pasca or Paschal computus ( Easter computation)

Computus (Latin for computation) is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age.

The canonical rule is that Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the 14th day of the lunar month (the nominal full moon) that falls on or after 21 March (nominally the day of the vernal equinox). For determining the feast, Christian churches settled on a method to define a reckoned "ecclesiastic" full moon, rather than observations of the true Moon as the Jews did.

The other point to note, this computation is only used in the Latin Rite. The Greek rite churches observe the original lunar computation. The Greek rites are also known as the Orthodox churches. While the Latin rite, which westerners are more familiar with, comprise of the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant Church and any other Christian Denomination beginning post Protestant Reformation. I learned all this in Math History class.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 1:20 PM

Re: cupcake

Take it, it is yours! No legal disclaimer needed.

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 1:22 PM

Jessker,Who do you think wrote the laws and destroyed the family structure in this country,and who enforces those laws, you get 50 guesses, the first 49 don't count, what starts with an N, has two O' in it and it ends with a W, good luck.

Posted by: mcewen | February 14, 2007 1:23 PM

Missicat, you're definitely correct about Easter symbols of bunnies, chicks and eggs. They were all pagan fertility symbols associated with spring. But I'm pretty sure Jesus was having a Passover dinner with his disciples on that Thursday, and Passover's date was established in Jewish tradition (with its lunar calendar) long before Christianity. That's why Easter's on a different date each year -- something to do with the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon following the spring equinox. Can someone please help us out here? Or Google it?

But, as Catmommy points out, the concern at hand is how much to follow -- or not -- the commercialized (i.e., secular) observance of originally religious holidays.

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 1:25 PM

"Just stop and think for a moment and remember that there are many women who never married or had children at all, how must they feel on Valentine's Day? The most successful career can't fill that void."

Someone alert Condi.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 14, 2007 1:26 PM

Fred's V-day card to Fredia:

A pix of a airport screening device with Cupid trying to pass thru with his bow & arrow.

TSA man says to Cupid "I don't care who you are. You're still not getting through with that thing."

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 1:26 PM

Loudounmom - I think your teachers/daycare providers are just being lazy. It takes minimal effort and time to get the personalized cards to each kid. Our preschool asked for "helpers" to distribute the cards - one extra adult took care of it usually.

Posted by: CMAC | February 14, 2007 1:29 PM

To Posted by: | February 14, 2007 01:18 PM

No, no, the Last Supper wasn't on Easter Sunday. It was on the day (or night) before Good Friday.

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 1:30 PM

Our preschool asked for "helpers" to distribute the cards - one extra adult took care of it usually.

I just hope that the volunteers had their FBI background checks!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 1:30 PM

So what does one get a diabetic for Valentine's Day? My 5th grade son has a crush on a girl in his class who is diabetic; he went out with his dad yesterday and bought her a little box of chocolates! I almost cried when I saw it -- he's an incredible romantic at such a young age. I told him that her mom would probably want to decide when/if she could eat it.

Posted by: q for Father of 4 | February 14, 2007 1:31 PM

On this snowy winter's day I doff my balaclava in salute to foamgnome's superior knowledge re the calculation of the date of Easter. I also took Math History in college, but we never learned that. Then again I only attended a CSS (ditto for DH).

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 1:33 PM

I don't understand something. Why do some of you parents feel the need to do these things FOR your kids? Why can't the kids fill out the cards? Why can't the kids handle most of this stuff? You all are just hurting your kids in the long run by doing stuff for them.

And, if your kids are too young to do these things themselves, then they're not going to care about the issue in the first place.

Posted by: Ryan | February 14, 2007 1:35 PM

For diabetics: My sister's childhood friend is Type I diabetic, and we always got her a small stuffed animal, or pencils/stickers/etc. instead of candy. She felt special instead of different and weird that way.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | February 14, 2007 1:36 PM

Ha NC lawyer no better offer because I don't think any human would really want to visit the Fae, but that is a topic for St. Patrick's Day. However, you are ALL welcome to eat any of the candy that is in my daughter's goodie bags that she just brought home from school.

Neither she or my husband are happy because the teachers couldn't find her cards that were in her cubby. (that would have been the first place I looked.)She was very upset that she didn't have any to hand out, and then when they found them, she had to leave.

Oh well, all things are cured with an over abundance of chocolate. St. Patrick's Day will be better!

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 1:38 PM

"I don't understand something. Why do some of you parents feel the need to do these things FOR your kids? Why can't the kids fill out the cards? Why can't the kids handle most of this stuff? You all are just hurting your kids in the long run by doing stuff for them. And, if your kids are too young to do these things themselves, then they're not going to care about the issue in the first place."

I'm one of the "do it with instead of for your child" moms. But the parents who talked about doing it for them were the ones who forgot about VD until 7:30 the night before and were putting their children to bed. Are they just supposed to say "so sorry, mommy forgot, so you don't get to take valentines"?

Do you really think a 3-4 year old or even a 5-7 year old can go out and buy valentines or paper to make them and write not only their own name but "to:" and their classmates names on 20 cards without *any* help from an adult?

My youngest son is 4 and he cared a *lot* about giving valentines to his friends yesterday, even though he couldn't do any of it except write his own name. My youngest daughter is 6 and she can write well but she still needed someone to buy the valentines or the materials to make them - and she was very proud as she walked into her classroom this morning with her bag of valentines to hand out to her classmates.

Someone else said it very well earlier - most young kids (who are the ones who need parental assistance) *do* care about giving to others and participating in things like valentines exchanges.

Posted by: momof4 | February 14, 2007 1:43 PM

mcewen,
not to engage in a debate with you, but I believe congress, etc. wrote the laws.
and NOW doesnt affect the laws in the UK, which was last on the list.
I am sending you a great big virtual valentine, which you obviously need.
end of debate. KLB is right, if you want to view everything from your own distorted perspective, so be it.

Posted by: jessker 1 1 | February 14, 2007 1:50 PM

Catmoomy - I wouldn't fuss over Easter/Birthday cards anymore then I would worry over Uber-moms. What is going to happen if you don't send Easter cards? Are your relatives going to beat you up at the next family get together?

I don't send birthday cards - I send Xmas cards but there is minimal effort.

Don't sweat the small stuff - and it is all small stuff.

Posted by: CMAC | February 14, 2007 1:51 PM

Gosh, to think that I forgot to sign my Easter post, and now it's been declared best post of the day!!!

Posted by: Ajax | February 14, 2007 1:55 PM

For the diabetic question - we always give our daughter a book or CD on Valentine's Day. By the way, I love the idea of books as goodybag substitutes or contents. I will definetely be doing that in the future! This is why I tune into this blog. :-)

Posted by: SMF | February 14, 2007 1:56 PM

"Just stop and think for a moment and remember that there are many women who never married or had children at all, how must they feel on Valentine's Day? The most successful career can't fill that void. Get some perspective and realize that you're the lucky one.

Posted by: Linda | February 14, 2007 11:43 AM"

That is the most condescending thing I have ever read on this blog.

Posted by: Meesh | February 14, 2007 1:57 PM

Yesterday Leslie asked about assistance to middle class families, especially in think in regards to another poster expressing difficulty with paying for preschool.

I know DC public schools have not only all day kindergarten (unlike Mont Co half day program- how do parents handle that?) but also all day Pre-K for 4s and, at several neighborhood DCPS and at a significant percentage (maybe half?) of DC charter elementary schools there are even all day pre-K for 3 year olds programs. The child needs to be potty trained, or in the process of potty training. There are no income restrictions. My child with his father in the morning the few blocks to our local, small elementary school and attends class with a racially and economically diverse group of children. I can't speak to the quality of the program in DC overall (i think it is still pretty new and it's not like there are test scores to compared the schools against each other-- kids are WAYYY to young for standardized testing), but our family has been very happy with it. We are middle class, dual income, professionals. We are using the money we would have spent on daycare/preschool for saving for college and donating to charity.

Posted by: mimi | February 14, 2007 2:01 PM

I believe that the Last supper commerates the last night of the Passover Seder in the year that Christ died. So that puts the date on Holy Thursday which is indeed the day before Good Friday. Palm Sunday commerates the day Jesus rode through Jersulem for the Passover Holiday. Again the Romans crucified people on Friday before the sun down in respect of the Jewish Passover. So you can assume that in the year Jesus actually was crucified, the Passover Holiday ended on Thursday. I think that is right. Where is Sister Clemins when you need her? Catlady, Math History class rocked.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 2:05 PM

On celebrations of Easter - when I was in college I did a semester away in Belize. I spent the week before Easter with a Mayan family there, and I remember the father of the family (who was the only one who spoke any English or Spanish, and not a whole lot of it) explaining to me how they celebrated Easter in their village: on Friday there was a procession to the top of nearby hill, carrying a huge cross. Then at some point in the weekend they shot and burnt Judas in effigy (not sure of the theological origins of this) and then all day Sunday was church activities. Then he said, "How do you celebrate Easter?" So I start off with, "Well, there's this bunny..." The looks on their faces as I tried to explain the Easter bunny and the eggs and he tried to translate...wow. Should probably have left that one alone. But it makes me laugh to this day.

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 2:13 PM

"Again the Romans crucified people on Friday before the sun down in respect of the Jewish Passover"

It should be "in respect of the Jewish Sabbath". The day before the Jewish Sabbath is known as "Preparation Day".

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:13 PM

What to give diabetics? Whatever you do, please, please don't give a diabetic child "dietic" candy. Some of that stuff is made with a sugar substitute, sorbitol, which is also a laxitive. And doing that to a kid is just plain mean.

There is a product out call Breath Savers. They come in a roll that looks deceptively like life savers, but they are sugar free, and contain a substance that makes most people fart a lot. Sure, your breath smells good, but...

But, to answer the question, a deck of cards or anything from the dollar store wil do as long as it's not edible. Then there are those intangible gifts, like a hug and a kiss on the cheek that were always my favorites.

Make sure your son gets permission before he gives his sweethart a kiss though, this could lead to a suspension if he's not careful.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 14, 2007 2:15 PM

2:13 Your right I meant in respect for the Jewish Sabbath. I didn't mean to say they celebrated Passover every week. I always thought that was sort of bizarre. We respect you so much not to kill your people on your holy day. How about just skipping the killing part? But I guess if they skipped that we wouldn't have such a great blog topic to discuss.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 2:17 PM

Megan-That is too funny.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 2:20 PM

This holiday is completely for adults. It's a holiday celebrating ROMANTIC LOVE! I find it highly creepy that people get their children involved in it. Ewwww!

Posted by: Bethesda | February 14, 2007 2:22 PM

For foamgnome:

I found History of Math to be an underrated but highly entertaining course! I wrote a paper on the history of Projective Geometry (admittedly not something I've found useful in adult life but, hey, it was fun at the time!), and I developed a lifelong passion for generating relatively prime Pythagorean triples in my head (great alternative to counting sheep).

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 2:25 PM

catlady: I loved math history but all my friends were in the class. You can tell how popular I was if all my friends were in the math history class. I did my paper on The Art of Escher.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 2:28 PM

foamgnome, wow - the content you've posted on Easter and the development of the western and Orthodox calendars is cool. I learned alot today.

Rebecca in AR - if my husband ever hears of your McDonald's and fishing license renewal tradition, I'm in big, big trouble. What a hoot!

Meesh - it's such a tough call for me whether that post is THE most condescending thing ever posted here, or only a contender. For example, is it really any more condescending than the comments posted on the "fashion at work" blog by the chica who graciously excused women who wore sizes 10 or 12 because they might have metabolic issues, but condemned anyone wearing a size 14 or larger garment? :>) What say you?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 2:29 PM

Mimi,

Regarding DC public schools prek programs. I know of 2 that have prek 3 and they are nearly impossible to get into- ditto for charter programs.
Even the prek 4 is nearly impossible.

It's all done by lottery- which is great because it keeps it fair, but there is a severe shortage of available classes.

So, what are parents to do from birth- age 4 (if you're lucky)? It's really only 1 less year of paying if your child even gets into a prek.

Not much help in my book. most families still have 4 yrs of 15K/year child care payments.

Posted by: to mimi | February 14, 2007 2:30 PM

Anyone take History of Science? That was pretty interesting.

Escher makes my eyes cross.

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 2:31 PM

To foamgnome: "The Art of Escher" -- awesome!

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 2:31 PM

"I loved math history but all my friends were in the class"

Oh, my God!

This beats out today's post from Ajax, the Blue Dot Cleanser, about Jesus waking up! Ha!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:31 PM

To missicat: Escher is SUPPOSED to make your eyes cross -- LOL!

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 2:33 PM

Meesh and NC lawyer,
I think the person who stated that those of us who don't have children will die miserable and alone was pretty bad.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 2:34 PM

To the Fae fans:

My daughter is named Morgaine, queen of the fairies (or evil witch, depending upon the version one listens- I obviously choose the queen version :) )

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:35 PM

"fashion at work" blog by the chica who graciously excused women who wore sizes 10 or 12 because they might have metabolic issues, but condemned anyone wearing a size 14 or larger garment?"

Here's another gift-giving ettiquet question. Is it polite to give a plus-sized person a gift card to Lane Bryant if that's where she likes to shop? I don't know how the sizes there work or what size she wears in order to actually pick out a gift. Or would someone take offense to getting a gift-card to a plus-sized store?

Posted by: catmommy | February 14, 2007 2:35 PM

"I loved math history but all my friends were in the class"

Oh, my God!

This beats out today's post from Ajax, the Blue Dot Cleanser, about Jesus waking up! Ha!

wow, moxiemom you have dethroned to number 3. I still love Ajax's comment.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 2:35 PM

DC does indeed have "voluntary" pre-k (voluntary meaning it us up to the school if they want to offer it, and they can take as many or as few kids as they want). Two of my kids went to Anthony J. Hyde Elementary's prek program and it was EXCELLENT. There was no trouble at all getting in, even if you are "out of boundary." Highly recommend it. There is also a terrific afterschool program at Hyde. VERY working parent friendly.

Posted by: Leslie | February 14, 2007 2:35 PM

Are these math/science history classes in high school (shudders) or college?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:37 PM

Catmommy,
Unless you are a family member I would hesitate to give a Lane Bryant gift cert (unless it was specifically asked for). My sister is very heavy and she actually does most of her shopping at Kohls. Maybe a Visa gift card so she could use it anywhere?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 2:37 PM

Here's another gift-giving ettiquet question. Is it polite to give a plus-sized person a gift card to Lane Bryant if that's where she likes to shop? I don't know how the sizes there work or what size she wears in order to actually pick out a gift. Or would someone take offense to getting a gift-card to a plus-sized store?


I think so. SIL loves LB gcs.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 2:38 PM

KLB, We've had a few of those missives, haven't we? Does one in particular stand out? (Off-topic alert: Do you remember long, long ago when New Woman was a new magazine and it used to give thump on the head to some celebrity or politician that made a bonehead comment about women? Perhaps we might institute a new "Thump on the Head" award to posts that set themselves apart either by their patronizing tone or content.)

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 2:39 PM

I took the G-rated version of Math History in HS but took the longer version in college. Don't remember too much about HS version. Definitely wasn't full of best and closest friends in HS. I had very few friends in HS; even among the geeks. But in college, we all must have found each other and ended up in the same class.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 2:40 PM

NC Lawyer,

Do we have a special cave for math geek---I mean math enthusiasts? What color is it? Or maybe more appropriate, what geometric shape is it?

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 2:42 PM

NC lawyer,
I LOVE that idea. We could vote the next morning. Of course we have to be careful of people who make a seriously absurd remark just to win :-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 2:43 PM

I think so. SIL loves LB gcs.

I meant to say I don't think so.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 2:45 PM

To foamgnome et al.

One of the most fun things about being good at math was that the classes were loaded with guys -- talk about great odds for a teenaged girl ;-)

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 2:46 PM

Any history geeks out there? In other words, does anyone else waste, er spend, as much time as I do watching The History Channel?

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 2:46 PM

NC lawyer,
I LOVE that idea. We could vote the next morning. Of course we have to be careful of people who make a seriously absurd remark just to win :-)

Am I the only one who is having a terrible time submitting again?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 2:48 PM

"Thump on the Head" award,

mcewen has already retired that one.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:48 PM

I actually did get my SIL a Lane Bryant gift card for Christmas, and it didn't occur to me until later that it might be offensive. I do know for a fact, though, that she buys most of her clothes there.

The funniest part is the stares I got when I walked in. I walked straight to the counter, and the sales clerk looked at me and said, "Gift card?"

Posted by: catmommy | February 14, 2007 2:53 PM

To the Fae fans:

My daughter is named Morgaine, queen of the fairies (or evil witch, depending upon the version one listens- I obviously choose the queen version :) )


She was a queen. Just how nice of a queen is debatable and depends on what myths you believe or whose oral history you listen too. My grandma told me once that every myth or legend had to come from some sprig of truth. Maybe she just told me that to scare me into going to bed--worked every time! Lovely name though.

Posted by: scarry | February 14, 2007 2:53 PM

"Thump on the Head" award

Mcewen has already retired that one.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:53 PM

To KLB SS MD: I'm having a lot of trouble submitting posts right now, too. Maybe something about the weather?

Are you packed yet? Can you find out from your airline whether they expect to fly tomorrow? Sure hope so, though we'll all miss you. But when you return you can share a few of your best memories so the rest of us can enjoy your vacation vicariously :-)

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 2:55 PM

Fred, Please just don't consign us math geeks to a Klein bottle! We won't be able to get back out again in order to geek another day :-(

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 2:55 PM

Catmommy,
"The funniest part is the stares I got when I walked in. I walked straight to the counter, and the sales clerk looked at me and said, "Gift card?"

LOL.
When I was in the Army I needed to buy a new pair of combat boots. I wear a size 5 1/2 in women shoes. Combat boots are only made in men's sizes. The smallest they had was 7 1/2 so I had to special order a pair. That was embarassing enough but when I picked them up I was asked if they were for my son!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 2:58 PM

KLB - there is a "your mother wears combat boots" joke hiding somewhere in that story...

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 3:00 PM

"Here's another gift-giving ettiquet question. Is it polite to give a plus-sized person a gift card to Lane Bryant if that's where she likes to shop?"

Catlady, I think if you know that's where she likes to shop it would be fine, unless you don't know each other very well, in which case I might go with the visa gc idea or something like that. Or unless you know her fairly well and know that her size is something she's particularly self-conscious about. I think my mom would love to get a gc to her favorite plus size stores, especially since she's always had a hard time finding good quality clothes in her size at "regular" stores, but she might think it was weird if it were from a coworker or acquaintance that she didn't know well.

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 3:00 PM

I am a slug today. I have ironed but not put the stuff into the suitcase. I plan to shower just before I go to bed so I can just get up in the am and head out as my flight is at 7:10am (leaving the house at 5am). It won't be hot there (mid 70s) but that beats 30s anytime.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 3:01 PM

Fred: I hope and pray that the math geeks are in a cave in proximity to me so I can pick up some of their vast knowledge by osmosis. Based on today, I'd say the color is selected by foamgnome and is decidedly, absolutely, categorically, not sage green. It's a dodecagon.

catlady, I am prepared to don the flame-proof suit, but, here goes. I also was one of the 4 girls in the 20-person advanced math class and my experience was that high school boys didn't want to date the girls who explained logarithms to them in 1st period. The ratio doesn't begin to benefit us until at least undergrad.

missicat: does it count if we watch alot of the History Channel because it's the spouse's first choice selection? closely followed by the Military Channel. or if our parents made us visit every battlefield and historic property on the East Coast?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 3:01 PM

Klein bottle, LOL. I had to look that one up. Sister Patrice, a good Irish nun, did not teach us about it.

I am not sure how you could get into one and having done that I am not sure how you would get out!

Gee, this held my intense interest, for 10 seconds. Guess that is why I was not a math major

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 3:03 PM

To Megan: That was catmommy who made the inquiry. Confusing, I know.

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 3:04 PM

I am addicted to the Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs (Mike Rowe is HOT), Seconds to Disaster and megastructures.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 3:04 PM

KLB - I like Seconds to Disaster too! Didn't think anyone else had heard of that.
NC Lawyer - if you pretend to like it, it counts!

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 3:07 PM

Don't worry, NC lawyer, no flames at you. You're right that some of the HS boys were still kind of dense, but at least the odds of finding a live one were better than in, say, Latin class ;-)

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 3:07 PM

"...History Channel because it's the spouse's first choice selection? closely followed by the Military Channel. or if our parents made us visit every battlefield and historic property on the East Coast?"

Sounds like the perfect spouse and family to me! And are you talking about colors that I cannot see again!


My sainted mother did not wear army boots. She proudly wore Marine boots!

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 3:09 PM

To KLB SS MD: 30s sound pretty good to someone who's looking at single-digits tonight.

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 3:10 PM

Well, the friend I am traveling with just called. She is on her way to my house now to spend the night (she lives about an hour away) so I guess my plans of being a slug for a couple of hours in gone. Must shower. Tata all until next week. KLB

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 3:11 PM

AUGH! My husband picked up our son and I was WRONG, we were NOT off the hook - he had a little bag of cards and a few peices of candy and a packet of peanut butter crackers. Who knew? They're TWO! Now I feel bad if he missed out on passing things out, I'm sure he would have loved that - he loves doing stuff like that, I think it makes him feel grown up. When we play together he always assigns my husband and I and himself one of whatever we are playing with. There's mommy's car, daddy's car, and Henry's car and so on with every thing he's got almost. Including my old collection of stuffed armadillos, one assigned to each of us.

ANyway, now I guess I can truly join in the "setting the bar low" chorus!

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 3:11 PM

KLB - Have fun!!!

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 3:15 PM

Catlady and catmommy - sorry about mixup! I'll try to pay better attention.

By the way, the low tonight here is predicted to be zero. Whoo hoo!

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 3:15 PM

To foamgnome and Fred, I've heard (though never seen it) that a gal once knitted a model of a Klein bottle for a math class. Of course, it was merely a three-dimensional model of the real thing.

Likewise the handblown glass Klein bottle I bought ages ago in Underground Atlanta, then had to schlep home carefully on the plane! DH couldn't imagine why I'd want to buy something so unpragmatic -- one of his very few philistine moments!

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 3:16 PM

The low here is to be 40 or 45

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 3:17 PM

Megan, I cannot read your posts any more today. I keep guffawing. People passing by my office are beginning to wonder about me. More than they did before, that is.

catlady, in Latin class the live ones wanted to cheat off me. shows you how smart they were if they couldn't figure out that I wasn't the girl to cheat from in Latin. Ha!

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 3:18 PM

the math cave should exhibit quantum mechanics: planck time and planck length.

Posted by: dotted | February 14, 2007 3:19 PM

Fred, you'll get yours in the summer!

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 3:21 PM

Catmommy,
"Is it polite to give a plus-sized person a gift card to Lane Bryant if that's where she likes to shop?"

If you know that she likes to shop there, why would that be impolite? I am plus-sized and, believe me, I know it. It's not something you can hide from people. Would you hesitate to get a gift card to "The Petite Store" for a small person?

Hopefully, you choose your gifts based on what you think people would like.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 3:21 PM

Fred, You are a cruel, cruel man spreading the news of your delightful weather. Sigh.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 3:21 PM

you should see if your local school would provide the pre-K 3 classes. that is what I did. i totld them they should do it because if they didn't people would likely try to use the lottery to get into a charter school. S now everyone in in our neighborhood how wants to place their child in the pre-K 3 program can do so and there are even spaces avialble for out-of boundry students. I think it is 50%/ 50%. Not every principal is interested in setting up a pre-k program, but it seems to me that they have a responsibility to respond to the needs of the neighborhood. and if they don't, the neighborhood will abandon the neighborhood school for a charter school that will respond to their needs.

Good luck!

Posted by: to mimi | February 14, 2007 3:23 PM

sorry-- that one I just posted should have been addressed to "to mimi" andnot from "to mimi".

thanks Leslie for the feedback.

Posted by: mimi | February 14, 2007 3:24 PM

Hey, I even used the heated seats in my car for the first time!(for a few minutes) I left my jacket in the back seat of the car last night. So I just wore my usual short sleeve shirt to work today.

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 3:25 PM

NC Lawyer, glad to help anyone seem even goofier than they already are! :)

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 3:30 PM

I'm just reading today but had to chime in on the weather. It has been -22c here for awhile but a chinook is on it's way and it will be double digits (10c) on the plus side by Saturday!!! YEAY!!!

Posted by: s | February 14, 2007 3:31 PM

I'm just reading today but had to chime in on the weather. It has been -22c here for awhile but a chinook is on it's way and it will be double digits (10c) on the plus side by Saturday!!! YEAY!!!

Have a good trip KLB and happy birthday!

Posted by: s | February 14, 2007 3:32 PM

by the way, I just looked up the Klein bottle too and it made my head hurt. You people must be smaaaaart.

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 3:33 PM

Megan, I have had those same mommy moments. Some days I think I missed the memo on being a surburban mom. By tomorrow he will forget. Or do what I plan to do. Raid the discount candy and blame it on rushing out on a snow day.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 3:33 PM

But Megan, are you the one who knows some Latin phrases?

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 3:34 PM

Why hasn't anyone pounced on the SEX part of Valentine's Day??

What is everyone doing to get in the mood?

I have ot admit that I'm tired, it's cold and gloopy outside and I really don't feel like having sex!

Wine will put me to sleep.

On a larger scale- I really don't mind only having sex once/month. Isn't that awful??? I used to be a nympho (before our daughter was born) And I'm not even 30 yet!

Help me get in the mood again- did anyone else break out of a sex slump?

Posted by: SEX | February 14, 2007 3:36 PM

Megan, you probably thought a Klein bottle was some sort of liquor! I actually love topology too.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2007 3:37 PM

foamgnome, thanks for the support! I definitely feel like I missed the memo.

Aw, Fred, that was a nice gesture, but I'm the one who doesn't know any of them, except the fake ones like "forum non conveniens." But hey, I've always been good at either faking it or making things up, that's why I'm a lawyer!

As one of my history profs in college said, I count like a bird: "one, two, LOTS!"

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 3:40 PM

"Megan, you probably thought a Klein bottle was some sort of liquor!"

LOL! Too true I did, until I saw Fred's post that he looked it up! I did see in the Trivia section of the Wikipedia entry that the show Futurama features a beer called Klein that served in a Klein bottle.

OK, I should really do some work now. Have a great vacation KLB!

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 3:43 PM

I went back to college in middle age. All those young college boys in my classes didn't make me want them, but it sure revved up my hormones so I wantted my husband when I got home.

Posted by: To SEX | February 14, 2007 3:44 PM

Jokes re: sex aside - wouldn't this be a good blog topic, too: how do you manage to have any sex at all, what with all the other demands life w/ children throws at you? Do people feel ok about their sex life, how much sex seems "normal", how did having children affect the sex life (negatively, I suspect), etc.

What do people think?

Posted by: Anon for now | February 14, 2007 3:51 PM

Anon for now, I think it would deteriorate rapidly into a series of icky comments about as enlightening as those posted at the On Parents blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 3:57 PM

res ipsa loquitur!

Posted by: lawgirl | February 14, 2007 3:59 PM

That's too bad - I think it's a valid topic. I am sure many people, and parents in particular, struggle with this. It's hard to keep up the romance between work, diaper changes, doctors appointments and whatnot. I know that I cannot even seem to relax enough to even THINK of sex.

Posted by: Re: sex blog | February 14, 2007 4:01 PM

Lawgirl, you are sui generis!

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 4:02 PM

Good topic! I've been both a stay at home and a working mom and it's tough either way!

Posted by: sex blog | February 14, 2007 4:09 PM

Sum ergo Sum

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 4:13 PM

Fred:

"Sum quod sum" -- Popeye.

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 4:17 PM

That's too bad - I think it's a valid topic. I am sure many people, and parents in particular, struggle with this. It's hard to keep up the romance between work, diaper changes, doctors appointments and whatnot. I know that I cannot even seem to relax enough to even THINK of sex.

Posted by: Re: sex blog | February 14, 2007 04:01 PM

The only difference for us between now before is, now we stop to close and lock the door.

Omit the housecleaning and making homemade valentines and you might have more time to relax.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 4:20 PM

"Sum ergo sum"

Fred, Are you quoting Sartre on this blog?

Posted by: catlady | February 14, 2007 4:21 PM

Well, think I will leave and try to make it home...
"aut viam inveniam aut faciam"

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 4:22 PM

Leslie--

what was it about hyde that you were particularly happy with? did your children stay with Hyde or at some point leave to go to private school? Maybe this was all awhile back and not relevant to parents in-boundry or otherwise interested in Hyde, but I am very curious about what overall makes a good DC public school and at what point you say, "no more, I'm out of here." Of course, every child is different, blah, blah, blah, but if you have general advice to pass on to parents with kids in DC schools, I'd love to hear it. It seems, I only voice that are admantly against DCPS from the very beginning and think it is neglectful to enroll a child in your neighborhood school AND those extremist who claim those who "Abandon" DCPS for charter or private schools are terrible (likely racist) people who are destroying the community. ring a bell to you? Perhaps you can add a moderate voice to the "debate"?

Posted by: Mimi | February 14, 2007 4:22 PM

Well, think I will leave and try to make it home...
"aut viam inveniam aut faciam"

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 4:24 PM

Well, think I will leave and try to make it home...
"aut viam inveniam aut faciam"

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 4:25 PM

Missicat, translation, please?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 4:30 PM

"I will either find a way or make one".

Thought it was appropriate considering the weather...

Posted by: Missicat | February 14, 2007 4:32 PM

"amor est vitae essentia"

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 4:38 PM

Too bad, I think a blog topic about sex would be great and would also probably totally degenerate. Also I bet there would be an awful lot of "anon for nows" - we'd all have to come up with new nicknames for that day!

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 4:47 PM

so sorry about my garbled post earlier. i think what I was trying to say was that I only hear from two camps regading DC neighborhood schools: you are neglectful parents if you place your child in such a shiggity, messed-up system OR you are a terrible (probably racist) person if you place your child in a private or charter school.

And I don't mean to only ask Leslie abou this-- I 'd like to hear from all reasonable minded people on this issue. I don't need to hear anything from the extremists-- gotcha loud and clear, good buddies. What about the moderates?

Posted by: mimi | February 14, 2007 5:10 PM

Sex? I think a topic on how we did it or how we planned or didn't plan our kids would be exceptionally interesting too.

Right now I'm beat. For the most part, I like the double wide driveway, but when it turns into having to shovel a 2 ton ice cone, forget sex, I'll take the nap first.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 14, 2007 5:23 PM

I generally hear that DC schools are fine/acceptable through elementary, but that the rubber hits the road at the junior high mark. Security concerns and academic inadequacies. and frankly, I hear this from parents of all races and ethnic backgrounds. It's not as though Black parents feel that their children are well-served.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 5:27 PM

Mimi, we seem to be the only ones left! So I'll take a stab.

I find myself already puzzling over this even though my son is only two. There's an elementary school just down the block from us, and our house backs up on the middle school grounds. I know this district has good schools, and I just assumed we'd send our son to those two. Then I found out that our neighbors across the street got their daughter into kindergarten at another school because they found that the school near us isn't the best. So I already find myself thinking about what we will do and what's most important.

My dad was a teacher and later an administrator at an incredible private high school. I went to really crappy public schools in elementary and junior high, and then to the private school (children of employees go for free). The difference in education was astounding, and in my personal happiness as well. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to go to that high school. On the other hand, I don't feel like I was permanently scarred by attending such crappy lower schools, and in fact I probably learned a lot of other lessons in life that were good. But I definitely was never challenged or even engaged academically - all of my academic prompting came from home.

In the end, I feel like the home environment has a much larger influence on the long term educational growth of our children than we think, and I don't feel like my son has to go to "the best schools" to get a good education and continue to grow. But if I find that he's seriously under-stimulated, or that the structure or culture of the public schools near us really don't work for him, I'll probably move him if I can.

If I had the money, I might consider sending him to a private high school like the one I attended (possibly the same one), but I really don't know for sure. I recognize the incredible value that school and schools like it represent, and at the same time I feel really strongly about focusing on and improving public schools. It's a tough nugget.

Posted by: MEgan | February 14, 2007 5:27 PM

I cast my vote for sex but the discussion will probably degenerate into "sex used to be just for me and my husband but now I must take my children's preferences into account and those of their classmates' parents...."

Posted by: Denk | February 14, 2007 5:28 PM

I forgot I had to shovel since I didn't go outside today :-) because I don't have my dog. Duh! Not only did I have to shovel my sidewalk but I had to make a parking place for my friend who is arriving momentarily. NOT fun shoveling rocks like father of 4 just said.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 14, 2007 5:28 PM

How much snow are you all getting out there?

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 5:32 PM

I cast my vote for sex but the discussion will probably degenerate into "sex used to be just for me and my husband but now I must take my children's preferences into account and those of their classmates' parents...."

Posted by: Denk | February 14, 2007 05:28 PM


Denk, with this post I think you took over as the poster of the number 1 most hilarious post of the day, LOL. and what with Megan and moxiemom, you had some formidable competition.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 14, 2007 5:33 PM

yep, I think Denk is the winner so far.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 14, 2007 5:38 PM

Ridiculum sum, ergo sum

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 5:52 PM

"Sum ergo sum"
Fred, Are you quoting Sartre on this blog?

No, I am quoting myself.

"amor est vitae essentia"

Love is essential to life. (or) love is the essence of life.

Or my knuckles still smart from Sr. Thaddeus's ruler.

Posted by: fred | February 14, 2007 5:56 PM

Denk's post is even up there with my favorite post from missicat a couple of weeks ago if memory serves me right.

Posted by: dotted | February 14, 2007 6:04 PM

A Latin phrase for NC Lawyer

Cheetos et vinum valde esculentus est

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 6:08 PM

man, you people are making me crave cheese doodles again. Cripes. I wonder if it's worth going out in the snow...

Posted by: Megan | February 14, 2007 6:15 PM

Actually, it was Descrates who said "Cogito Ergo Sum" but I was not quoting him.

Posted by: Fred | February 14, 2007 6:20 PM

My kids are just 2 and 3 so we haven't gotten into the craziness yet. Although I may feel differently Friday after the 3 year old's school party! It was supposed to be today but school was closed. I just did the CVS cards with a tattoo in each card. Like others we were asked to not address them individually so the children could distribute them themselves. I like doing crafts and would have had fun making them but DS is definitely NOT into crafts so I took the easiest route. Maybe DD will be more amenable as she gets bigger LOL

Last year his 2 year old class had a party. I brought the cupcakes but didn't bring any valentines. I must have missed the notice about that and it never occurred to me! He had no clue and wasn't at all interested in the ones he received (none had candy).

I like doing stuff for the kids on Val. Day. When I was a kid I always got a small heart shaped box of candy from my dad. He'd bring home a big box for mom and little boxes for us 3 kids. I loved it and it's the only thing I ever got during the year just from Daddy so it made a big impression.

Now we don't make a huge deal of VD but DH does give me flowers and a card. I get him a card and make a heart-shaped pizza for dinner. DS and I also made heart-shaped brownies for dessert (from a kit at Target).

For the previous poster who didn't like the school party sign-up that designated "homemade" only, that is no doubt for the nut-allergic kids. My son's best friend has a peanut allergy and because of that all baked goods in their classroom have to be homemade. His mom explained to me that he can't eat anything from a commercial bakery. No matter what's on the ingredient list, there can be lots of cross-usage of surfaces/dishes/utensils so nothing is safe. But, home baking, as long as it's nut-free, is generally safe.

Posted by: Suzanne | February 14, 2007 6:23 PM

Thanks! I hope we do a sex topic at some point.

Posted by: Denk | February 14, 2007 6:25 PM

I would guess that the 40 hour week workers have more sex than the 15 hour per day workers with 2 hour commutes.

Posted by: noname | February 14, 2007 7:01 PM

Is there sex after marriage?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 7:05 PM

Thanks Megan!

Indeed the pursuit of "the best" can't possibly help maintain "balance" and what happens at the home is critical. I wonder if with NCLB parents can have a stronger hand in wrestling their local school into conforming with the expectations of the parents-- you don't meet our expectations and its a failing school, then the city has to give a space to my child at a better performing school, tutoring, etc. I know that would go to lower income families first, but I think those lower income families could be the ones who will lead the changes-- they have an even greater reason to demand excellence from the local school than those of us with the extra cash to get out and into private school. Or maybe I'm just being a pollyanna that there really may be some benefit to the No Child Left Behind deal!

Posted by: Mimi | February 14, 2007 10:17 PM

"Is there sex after marriage?"

Last night in my house there was! Woohoo!

Posted by: John | February 15, 2007 8:06 AM

We have the uber-child who would not be satisfied unless she could make an individualized card for all her classmates, and teachers, and assistants, and janitors, bus drivers and neighbors. Its not always the Moms who are the pushers...

Posted by: Zume | February 15, 2007 8:52 AM

Luckily my principal does not allow birthday celebrations (low income area) but she does allow V-Day parties. To cut down on the insanity, I bought cupcakes, my assistant is bringing juice boxes, and I made a little goody bag for each kid, a pencil, eraser, a card, a little bag of fruit snacks and a hershey kiss. Lots of little things and I tried not to add a lot of sweets (I do know the fruit snacks are just as bad as candy).

Part of the activities tomorrow (since we had yesterday and today off) will be sorting cards into paper bags and graphing 5-6 M&Ms (each kid will get 5-6 M&Ms to count and graph).

Low key, the activities will be done throughout the day, and the party will last about 20 minutes at the end of the day.

Posted by: pre-kteacher | February 15, 2007 9:25 AM

My children are 19 and 13 now and the classroom competition days are behind me. I was a baker and a room party Mom at times and a candy on the Target valentine cards Mom at other times. I had tea parties for my daughter and a few friends when she was a preschooler and cookie decorating sleepover parties in elementary days. I throw big fun parties for birthdays and did a candlelight and roses after Prom Party for 24 kids with a buffet and ice cream sunday bar. I grew up poor....I had fun doing all of it and the kids and I have great memories of it. The excess of school candy for various holdiays often ended up in the trash...not by me on the day that it was brought home, but when it was found uneaten months later....Both of my kids are bright and aware of the commercialism of the Holidays and on their own they research the history and find some of them silly...but they enjoy the spirit and the fun of much of it still...while I understand the importance of wanting to set an example for our children and deplore the excess of commercialism that drives the American economy - I think happy childhood memories and kids who are encouraged to discover and explore and critical think and come to their own conclusions about participating or not is by far a greater thing to do for your children.

Posted by: mid west mom | February 15, 2007 10:21 AM

That's because you *are* a bad mother. And this column gets so off track, it's a wonder you have a job

Posted by: Good mom | February 15, 2007 4:35 PM

Sorry, school is for learning. What does handing out cards, candy and cupcakes have to do with learning. If a school/teacher wants to do something for a holiday (which I don't agree with) the focus should be a charity. Bring in canned goods for the local food pantry, that is the best way to celebrate V-day.

Posted by: Sorry | February 16, 2007 1:35 PM

Sorry, school is for learning. What does handing out cards, candy and cupcakes have to do with learning. If a school/teacher wants to do something for a holiday (which I don't agree with) the focus should be a charity. Bring in canned goods for the local food pantry, that is the best way to celebrate V-day.

Posted by: Sorry | February 16, 2007 1:37 PM

Late to the party here; postponed lurking at fault.
But this sentence got me: "Sorry, school is for learning."
Are art and creativity not forms of learning?
Some children see their valentines as artistic, creative endeavors. I certainly did when I was a child, and I put a lot of time and effort into designing the valentines I passed out to classmates.
Same for Halloween: My mother (a professional artist from a family of several professional artists) put a lot of effort into designing and carving jack-o-lanterns. I do too.
And now my daughter has apparently inherited her grandmother's artistic talents and passions. For her, valentine design is an annual project that gets her creative juices flowing. So I should stifle her creative impulses? I don't think so.
Not every kid is interested in this type of project. And certainly, kids are not expected to pass out especially beautiful or creative or clever valentines. But those who want to do so and have the flair for it shouldn't be stifled.
(I knew art was being downplayed in the schools, sadly, but sheesh!)

Posted by: to sorry | February 20, 2007 2:29 PM

One reason I'm fine with not having children: the ridiculous over-competitiveness of other parents. GAG.

Posted by: Jayne | February 21, 2007 9:20 AM

"War" of the roses?
I think that's the trouble here, referring to differing approaches to this optional activity as a war.
There's no war, except in the minds of some parents. If kids want to go all-out on their valentines or other school-related projects, fine. If kids want to be minimalistic, fine. Vive la difference!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:26 PM

Ok, some people don't get it: if it were the KIDS doing things, that would be one thing. It is clearly the parents in most of these situations. I'm less appalled by the crazy things coming home in the valentine bag than I was at the BLATANT disregard for the spending limits on the secret santa that each of my children's classes did, or the insane projects that come into class that CLEARLY had not so much as the child's finger print on them. And this is in kindergarten.

There is a nasty "ratcheting up" of all of these things. It may inspire guilt in a lot of moms who aren't "keeping up," but it inspires worry in me: what are they going to see as special by the time they are teens? I just don't think anything about this is innocuous.

With that in mind, I didn't even send in candy (which my children did roll their eyes about). Each kid sent in the normal cards, picked out themselves at the grocery, and filled OUT themselves (with the help of a checklist of the class names supplied by Mom). The way I respond to this is to make certain that my children do whatever it is that is done for each holiday -- it isn't about me. I don't think that it constitutes a reproach to the moms who are the center of each and every activity or holiday in which their children participate, but that isn't my place anyway. If they insist on seeing my children's stuff as subpar, they are missing the point.

But sometimes I must admit: I get a pang of horror and shame when I see the lengths to which other parents go. I suspect it might be a working mom thing. I just try to remind myself that my own kids got more of my time and attention because I wasn't folding 25 origami hearts that hold little golden surprises.

Posted by: bad mommy | February 22, 2007 12:07 PM

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