Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Simple Wish

Motherhood, as the saying goes, changes everything. This might be true in the life of a woman, but in the workings of the world, I’d like to amend the phrase: Mothers change everything.

Especially situations of injustice, neglect, or heartache.

For Danielle Gletow, motherhood moved her on the personal level and the public, and some of the most vulnerable kids in New Jersey are being helped because of it. Danielle is the force behind One Simple Wish, a private nonprofit that grants modest requests from children whose own parents are no longer supporting them. Most of these kids are in foster care, or living in group homes, or connected to the fifty community partner organizations Danielle works with.

The name, One Simple Wish, says it all, but don’t be confused by the word “wish”. Some of the requests are painfully basic. New shoes. Eyeglasses. A bike. Tickets to the circus, or movies, or prom. You don’t have to be Philadelphia Eagles cornerback, Ellis Hobbs, to grant them, but it’s nice that last year, he did. Granting a wish might help a child get through the day with more success, or more warmth, or more confidence. Or more faith that someone out there cares about them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Age of Bugaboo

Not long ago, the folks at Bugaboo had a problem.

“...we realized that some of our consumers were not buying their strollers for the right reasons,” Max Barenbrug, the original designer and creator of Bugaboo, said in an interview with the British magazine, Contagious, last year.

You have to give the company credit. It actually bothered them that folks were lining up to spend $900 on their strollers only because they’d seen Madonna with one, or, perhaps more likely, the mom down the street.

So they started a campaign to educate the buyer, on their website and in the stores, with details sometimes missed in the captions of Us Weekly. If you have a few hours, you, too, can watch video of Barenbrug explaining his creations, or click on a breakdown of the chassis and swivel wheels.

Add this to the list of contradictions that define the Bugaboo. It’s such a simple stroller, it takes hours to explain.

The initial wave of hoopla has passed since Bugaboo hit the scene about a decade ago. The babies of the “Sex and the City” generation are now in grade school, and their younger siblings might just as likely be pushed around in a Mountain Buggy or Uppa, or Quinny, or Maclaren, or dare I say, worn in a sling, as driven in a Bugaboo Frog of yesterday.

Still, Bugaboo changed the landscape. It is, as Bryan Pulice, of the Santa Monica store, Traveling Tikes, said, the “grandfather” of the modern stroller. As a parent who came of age in this decade, I love the Bugaboo and I hate it. Usually at the same time. And, I don’t even own one.

Janet McLaughlin, runs Stroller Swap, a group on Yahoo that has about 10,000 members. She’s owned more than 270 strollers and is, in person and online, the Stroller Queen. She says Bugaboo was revolutionary in three ways. It made Americans face their children in strollers, again, the way prams always have; it brought back the bassinet; and it convinced other companies that US parents would spend more than $400 on a stroller.

“They are unquestionably the company that broke the barrier on money—the sky is the limit.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Barbie this Mom Blogger can Stand Behind (I Didn't Say Buy)

I have always suspected Ken of two-timing Barbie, and getting stoned somewhere in the back of a party bus while she was out getting her hair done. But, now that Don Draper is on the scene, the lipstick might as well be stitched onto the collar.

If people want to blow $75 a piece on the new “Mad Men” Barbies, I say more power to them. The four dolls, part of the Barbie Fashion Model Edition to be released this summer, are designed for grown-ups. That should be pretty obvious, considering even Disney would have a hard time pitching debauchery and gin and tonics to kids. They usually just stop at sex.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Let's Move: Grocery Shopping with Michelle Obama

Every Friday afternoon, I descend into the underbelly of Cyrus Lodge #5. I know nothing about the spiritual journeys of the Freemasons who meet in this small building, but I know a lot about their industrial kitchen. The old ten-burner gas stove, huge sinks, tall wooden cabinets labeled “condiments” and secured with padlocks. Sometimes, because of an unfortunate scheduling conflict, I even see what’s for dinner: ham with more marble than meat, meatloaf, and peach halves swimming in heavy syrup, floating in a jar like jellyfish.

My youngest and I spend forty-five minutes pacing the tile floor, learning interesting new words like, “lighter fluid” and “ammonia” as she points to the collection of child-not-proofed bottles stashed in corners of the room.

Sometimes, if we are lucky, we catch a glimpse through a broken window into the meeting hall beyond. There we see, dancing in the distance, the reason we endure this purgatory. It’s intro to dance for the four year old set and to them, and their dedicated teacher, everything is pink and rosy.

But, where we are, there are no chairs or even open walls to lean against; just hazmats and the occasional open flame. The hostile environment has given the moms a sort of cohesion, like prisoners in the back of a police van.

“Are we getting out soon?” I ask, looking around for anyone with a watch.

A few mumbles and a shake of the head. No. Another fifteen to go.

So, it caused quite a stir last week when we got a visitor.

Down the steps, with a spring in his step, came Ken, the father of one of the dancers. He wore a handsome overcoat and a suit and tie, and, although I couldn’t identify it at the time, something else.

“Oh, he’s back,” my friend, his wife, Wendy, said, as he headed our way. “He was in Philadelphia.”

Ah, yes, the world above, I’d forgotten about the light, the air, the--

“Actually,” she said, “it was kind of a big event. It was with the First Lady.”

“The First Lady?”

Of course I had only one question.

“Was she wearing J. Crew?”

He had no idea. Apparently, he was there for some sort of policy issue and not wardrobe ideas.