Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why I didn't renew my Bronx Zoo membership.... even if the snake is no longer on the town

Since having kids seven years ago, the Bronx Zoo has been one of our favorite places to visit as a family. We even had an annual Merry Zoo Day tradition (also known as Christmas). Our kids loved everything about being at the zoo from visiting Tiger Mountain to riding the Bug Carousel to wandering around the Mouse House.

And yet, even with all these happy memories, I'm not planning to visit the Bronx Zoo again any time soon. I'm not renewing our membership, even though I'm sure we'll still make a few trips to the Central Park Zoo.

Why don't I want to go to the Bronx Zoo anymore? It's not because they lost a venomous cobra. No, it's because they lost their integrity when they added Dora and Diego's 4D Adventure to the list of attractions at the zoo. Touted as a "multi-media experience," it's really just a movie. And it's all my kids want to do at the zoo. Forget the animals. Forget being outside. Forget being together as a family. Forget you're a kid at the zoo - let's go inside and help Nickelodeon reach their corporate profit goals!

I got a renewal email from the zoo recently, and took the time to respond why my family would no longer be members. The Assistant Director of Guest Relations replied, clarifying for me not only why the film was a super-great addition to the zoo, but also that the film was playing at "other widely-respected Zoos and Aquariums" including the "National Aquarium, Cincinnati Zoo, North Carolina Zoo, and St. Louis Zoo."

Great, now I'm even more depressed that Dora & Diego have taken over other major zoos (and aquariums), too.

The good news? The Assistant Director of Guest Relations informed me that they "currently plan to replace Dora & Diego's 4-D Adventure with a new 4-D movie, yet to be determined, at the Bronx Zoo in the spring of 2012."

I don't even want to guess what this film will be, but I am willing to guess that I won't be renewing my membership to the zoo in Spring 2012. And it's a shame.

Dora and Diego have been at the zoo since last summer when the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood wrote Et Tu, Bronx Zoo? about their disappointment that advertising had reached the previously commercial-free zoo.

What do you think about kids having more and more advertising in their lives?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Instructions for My Husband: You can't throw ice in the trash.

Actually, let me clarify. You can - and do - throw ice in the trash on a regular basis. What you cannot do is throw ice in the trash and have it not make the trash leak. All over the kitchen floor. And make your wife crazy-annoyed.

You see, the ice (which is a solid when you put it in the trash) melts (and becomes a liquid) between the time you put it in our kitchen trash can and the time someone gets around to taking it out for trash day which by the way is every Wednesday and Saturday - exact same two days, each week. Just sayin'.

And while we're on the subject of the freezing point of water, if you leave your beloved water bottles outside when the temperature reaches - hmmm, how should I put this so you'll understand - BELOW freezing, they will freeze. Just sayin'

This is my eighth post in my ongoing series of Instructions for My Husband.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mother Earth to Oriental Trading: Don't Try to Friend Me on Facebook
I just got the most recent Oriental Trading catalogue - an affront to the earth itself - and found myself at first amused, and then utterly incensed on behalf of our Earth Mother that they are trying to sell item after item of disposable plastic (and paper) junk in honor of... EARTH DAY.

I have just one, simple question to ask Oriental Trading: Are you fucking kidding? Does Mother Earth want you to make more trash or less trash to honor her? Why would you celebrate earth day with plastic erasers, stickers and disposable banners printed with Earth Day 2011 that will clearly only be able to be used once? And more importantly, what marketing genius thought, hey maybe we can get all those save-the-earth idiots to buy paper plates if we just print Earth Day on them?

Among the worst Earth Day offerings from Oriental "not friends of the earth" Trading:
  • Earth Day Latex Balloons, 'cause you don't need to be a junior ecologist to know balloons are totally awesome for the environment:

And last, but not least, the plastic, won't-last-five-minutes, Earth Springs:, because nothing says Earth Day like adding more useless crap to the landfill:

All this leaves me with the question... what on earth are we doing? Please tell me you know an organization celebrating Earth Day (April 22) the right way, and leave a shout out to them in the comments.

This post is recycled from Earth Day 2010 and updated to include the latest Earth Day product line extensions from OTC.

No trees were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Instructions for my Husband: Black Ice is Real. For Reals.

Photo from
Yes, you are lucky enough to be married to my super-creative and incredibly imaginative self. And yet...

I did not personally make-up black ice. Black ice is real. And it is dangerous. For reals.

I "googled it" and found not only the awesome photo above from DJ Trousdale, but also this online proof taken directly from an update from the one-and-only NOAA:

Issued by The National Weather Service New York City, NY . . .


Also, Black ice has its very own entry on Wikipedia, so it has to be real.

And last, there is no mention of a black ice myth anywhere on Snopes.

Is there something I'm missing? Is black ice a myth? A fad? A hoax?

This is my seventh post in my ongoing series of Instructions for My Husband.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor: February 27, 1932 - March 23, 2011

Seventy-nine years, countless charitable endeavors, nine grandchildren, eight marriages, seven husbands, at least six best-selling perfume lines, five broken backs, four kids, three Academy Award nominations in addition to two Academy Awards for Best Actress... one incredible life.

May you rest in peace, Elizabeth Taylor.

Instructions for my Husband: If I put them on him, the baby's pants are on the right way. You don't need to confirm this with me.

You never need to ask me if I put Ziggy's pants on the right way. They are pants. Being put on a baby. It's not hard.

In this situation, I was putting on some very cute baby boy pants which had pant seams that were supposed to be on the outside. It's this thing called... fashion. Yes, even babies need to wear stylish pants. (And I note, Ziggy owns not even one pair of front pleat slacks).

Next time, instead of saying "Hey, looks like you just did a daddy-move! These are on backwards!" take a quick look in the back of the pants for the tag. This tag is usually square-shaped and located in the middle of the waist-band. If the tag is on the inside of the garment, as it was today, then you know the pants are on the right way! No need for confirmation!

And, I am totally willing to buy this for you if it will help in the future:
Though in today's situation, you managed to mangle dressing the baby even though you didn't even dress the baby.

Is my husband in good company? Is it difficult to get a baby dressed? And is it really that hard to tell which way the clothes should go?

This is the sixth post in my ongoing series of Instructions for my Husband.

I'm linking-up this old post to Finding the Funny at Kelley's Breakroom and My Life and Kids. Consider it my little contribution to NYC's Fashion Week.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chag Sameach! Purim fun!

The Purim celebrations have been underway since last week, starting with a visit by Magpie to her alma mater on the Upper West Side for pre-Purim circus fun:

Then it was face painting and cotton candy at Kay's school's Purim festival on Sunday:

Monday was Mordecai and Esther lollipops and a visit from Grandma.

How did you celebrate? Chag Sameach Purim!

(This is a look back at our 2009 5769 Purim celebrations.)

Instructions for my Husband: Coffee is either black, or it isn't. Coffee can't be "black with sugar."

When you order coffee, you can order it:
...with milk (or cream, or a variety of other "whiteners")
...with sugar (or Splenda, or a variety of other "sweeteners")
...with milk and sugar
You can not order it "black with sugar." Black means coffee without anything else. So "black with sugar" makes no sense.

I realize you don't drink coffee, and I don't expect you to fully understand the nuances of coffee ordering, but trust me on this, you can't order coffee black with sugar.

And, here in New York, there is an extra twist. You can order "coffee regular," which means you want milk and sugar. You can also order "coffee light" (just milk).  And I am sure there are plenty of other regional variations others can share below.

But black with sugar is not one of them.

If you don't believe me, get a second opinion about coffee "black" vs. "coffee black with sugar" at Answer Girl. Here's her post about this and she even throws in a definition of coffee regular, too.
Anyone else have an opinion on the coffee black debate?

This is my fifth post in my ongoing series of Instructions for my Husband.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

This Supermoon sounds super cool!

Photo from
I just did my usual neurotic morning check of what the day holds for us weather-wise (high in the 50s here in Jersey, yay!) and decided to take a minute to read about this Supermoon I keep reading people tweet about endlessly. I thought it was going to seem like a nothing occasion, but to be honest, I'm impressed.

This Supermoon sounds super cool!

Intrigued? Here's the story at -  Don't be Afraid of the Extreme SuperMoon!

And if you take a photo of the Super Moon please leave a link in the comments below, I would love to see it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My kids are celebrating by coloring leprechauns and taking an after-school trip to the local ice cream parlor.

At first I said, "Why would we get ice cream for St Patrick's Day? That's not exactly Irish."

They replied, as if I had never celebrated St. Patrick's Day before in my whole entire life (uh, kids - you do know I lived in Boston for six years, right? In my twenties?), "we'll get green ice cream."

OK, then. St. Patrick's Day ice cream it is.

I'm also insisting on making an Irish dinner, and I will once again be using the inspired holiday recipes from If You Can Make That You Can Make This - Colcannon Cakes and Irish Soda Bread. Mmmm.

Baby Celebrates Her First St. Patrick's Day!

Back when I was a more irreverent mom and was enjoying the fun of having a wee little lass to call my very own, I took these hilarious St. Patrick's Day photos of my baby girl to email to all my friends.
Baby in the morning...
Baby at noon...

Baby at night...
A dear friend - as we reminisced about our drunken twenties when we lived in Boston and celebrated St. Patrick's Day as a straight-out high holiday (seriously, the schools and government are closed for Evacuation Day) - unearthed these pictures I had sent her seven years ago and sent them back my way. 

To be honest, I had completely forgotten about them. And I can't even imagine staging these photos now. But I love that I once did.  Happy St. Patrick's Day, Magpie... seven years later.
P.S. And Magpie? That's a Flogging Molly onesie you're wearing. 'Cause - that's right - mama used to be punk rock.

I'm not sure that I think these photos are in good taste, so if you think they aren't, you're not alone.

Inappropriate or not, I do think the photos are kinda funny, so I'm linking this post up to Finding the Funny.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Random Handprints for you and me!

Have you ever wondered what I do in my spare time besides write endless posts about my beloved collections, my in-need-of-instructions husband, and my adorable brood?

Let me be honest - despite a full schedule of laundry, craft supply organizing and second-grade homework, I have found myself with some extra time of late. So, I have started writing elsewhere besides my dear ol blog. That's right, the Random Handprints empire is growing!

You can now find me writing at the ever-stylish Momtrends - my first post is A Guide to Celebrating Purim... in Style with lots of fun ideas for a chag sameach with your family.

I'm also contributing to ShePosts, an incredible resource which covers the latest news from all over the mom blogosphere. My first post looked at how Toy Fair Tightens Reigns on Press Credentials for Bloggers. And today, I wrote about how a Blogger Campaigns to Stop the R-Word.

I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to these two great sites that I have long-admired and oft-read, and am yet again amazed at the wonderful opportunities that this blog has brought my way.

Now, if I could only get the hang of second-grade homework...

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm a guest blogger at The Fordeville Diaries!

While the Fordeville family was on a getaway to warmer climes last week, I was lucky enough to be one of four guest posts holding down the blog back at The Fordeville Diaries, which is one of my favorites. (If you don't already read it, you should. It's great. And funny. Oh, and they live in Jersey, too.)

Do you love, hate, or love to hate vacations? Check out my Tales of a Vacation Avoider, and let me know if you're one, too.

And if you find you are also a vacation avoider, don't worry. You can join the Vacation Avoiders Anonymous (VAA) group I'm starting. In time, maybe we can all learn to enjoy a vacation, too.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The wedding - from my seven-year-old daughter's point of view

My uncle got married this weekend. It was the best day ever.

First it was the best because I got to wear my junior bridesmaid dress. It is sparkly and it swirls great when I spin around. I love it.

And, I got to wear shoes with high heels. Real heels. I picked them out with my mom at the store and asked for them really nicely. She laughed and said, "Magpie, those heels are much too high for you. Tell me, why would I buy such inappropriate shoes for a seven-year-old?

And, I said: "Because you're the best mom ever."

I guess that was the right thing to say, because she smiled real big and got me the shoes and a headband and a purse and another dress. They were all sparkly too.

Finally, we went to the wedding. We got there right when Uncle did so I got a picture of him in his car:

And when he got out of the car:

This is the wedding. There was too much to see to keep it all straight:

And, I made a new friend, who I think is my cousin now. At least that's what I called her.

The wedding was the best ever.

The wedding - from my shoes point of view

This weekend my brother, and now sister-in-law, were wed. It was a wonderful wedding complete with a beautiful bride and a dashing groom, a gorgeous setting, and much joy, laughter and fun all around.

The event was also a much appreciated time for loads of family and friends to see each other again - some who hadn't been together in years, or even decades. (Memo to self: don't wait so long to get together again!)

And for me - I had the added happiness that my shoes didn't make my feet ache all night.

I had planned to wear these:

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that with my all-mom, all-the-time lifestyle these shoes were harder to walk in then I had recalled from my out-all-night, all-the-time lifestyle when I wore heels like this without a thought.

So, I went with these fun but lower heeled alternatives pictured on the left. My daughter went with the cute shoes on the right. All was good, until...

... I realized my seven-year-old daughter and I were wearing heels that were the same height.

And suddenly, I felt very old.

Both pairs of my shoes are from Poetic License. My mom got them for me from their Soho store, which I highly recommend visiting if you're in New York City. It's tons of fun, and it's rare to find shoes this pretty that are this comfy, too.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The girls get ready for the wedding

Opening gifts from the bride and groom at breakfast:

Next a manicure....

.... finally pedicures in Green-wich Village:

Next stop.... wedding!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our plans this weekend

For those of you who haven't heard, my brother and his lovely bride are getting married this weekend in Brooklyn. I'm sure the blog will be bursting at the seams with photos come Monday morning, but till then I'll just leave you with this calendar notation from my daughter Magpie's homework planner.

PS She's a junior bridesmaid and just a teensy bit excited.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two Ways of Looking at a Memo Pad

This is my memo pad:

I like to write lists on it.

To do lists (that I write, but don't actually do).

Lists of people whose calls I need to return.

Lists of blog posts to write.

Lists of play dates to schedule.

Lists of books to read, shows to watch, bills to pay.

Today, I went to write one of my endless lists and found a charming drawing on the back of the sheet. And, as I turned to the next page, and the next, it became clear all the pages were embellished with my daughter Kay's signature style.

The drawings I discovered brightened up my day, and I know the ones I discover tomorrow will, too.

Thank you, Kay.

Linking-up to Finding the Funny at Kelley's Break Room and My Life and Kids.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shelves in the Attic

My attic
As I've discussed here before, I'm a big collector. Mostly, I concentrate on items with an Americana and/or feminist twist - Amish quilts, milk caps, suffragette postcards, and of course jewelry and shoes.

I also have an extensive ribbon hoarding issue collection, and a nice supply of vintage fabric and beads. 

And what is the number one, most important thing for a collector to have? Space. Lots and lots of space. And for the first time, I have this too.

We recently bought a house (coincidentally?) from an avid collector. A collector of such insanity extent, that no one else could see past his copious stuff and appreciate the house. For me, his collections of dolls, boats and maps were all part of the home's charm.

Not to mention, he had my perfect attic.

My perfect built-in shelving, two-zone climate controlled, air-purified museum storage quality attic.

Are you a collector who dreams about endless shelves in the attic? Or do you think collector is just a fancy way of saying hoarder?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Instructions for my Husband: The Kids Shouldn't Watch Infomercials

This is the conversation we had at our house:

Husband: I really want to show Magpie the painting show with that guy, Bob Ross, he does a whole painting in like 15 minutes!

Anna: That sounds really classy. Maybe next you could show show her an infomerical?

Husband: Next time? Magpie, tell Mommy what your favorite infomercial is.

Magpie: The Magic Bullet Express where they show you how the thing can clean like THREE DIFFERENT things. I love that one. Oh and the one with the sausage/bacon cooking thingy. I like that one a lot, too.

Did you, my beloved husband, not get the memo that we are raising our kids in a TV-free home? And if maybe TV-free is a bit of an exaggeration, is it too much to ask that it be at least an infomerical free zone?

This is the fourth post in my ongoing series of Instructions for My Husband.

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