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Date archive for: February 2009

Joy is Cheap

They warned us: Before long, we’d all feel the effects of this recession. Now it’s happened to me. I haven’t lost my job. No evicted family members have shown up at my door. In truth, the financial crisis hasn’t yet walloped my wallet.

But it’s messing with my mind. Feeling the economy slowly constrict around our national lifestyle, I find myself in a spend-not panic: Would you like to see the dessert menu? Sigh, better not. Valet parking? Don’t be ridiculous.

Call me a brat, but it starts to piss me off. Is this the end of life’s small pleasures? A friend of mine relinquished her daily Starbucks cappuccino (extra shot of espresso, single pump of caramel) in favor of boring, home-brewed joe in a thermos.

“How bad is it,” she lamented, “when a girl can’t even have a little cup of fancy-pants coffee?”

But I had a recent revelation while driving my car and listening to an old song, appropriately, by Squeeze. I was blissing out on those endorphins that come from singing loudly to ’80s music when my guilt-check clicked on: This feels too good. Is it naughty? Is it wasteful, extravagant, thriftless? Am I somehow squandering money that, as soon as next week, could stand between my children and a bowl of pork-flavored ramen noodles?

And then a shocking jolt of relief: No. This euphoria? This is free.

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The Post-Baby Bop

It’s the great irony of having children: The very act that launches you into parenthood is difficult to achieve — ever again — once your kid is born.

It’s like nature looks at you and says, “What? You got what you came for. Find another way to jazz up your evenings.”

And it happens to everyone: No matter how much your boudoir tends to bounce before Baby comes along, it slows to a sort of sad, silent stillness (sigh) once the diapers start flying.

“I can’t think of a single couple I know who hasn’t been affected by this issue,” says sex therapist Ian Kerner, a New York husband and father of two.

But he swears there’s hope. In his new book Love in the Time of Colic: The New Parents’ Guide to Getting It On Again, Kerner and co-author Heidi Raykeil say there’s no reason to throw your libido out with the baby’s bath water. “It really is possible,” they write, “to do the hokey pokey and keep up the hanky panky.”

What causes the sexual fizzle between new parents? Exhaustion. Stress. Mom’s hormones, and her tendency to devote every amp of energy and inkling of empathy to the helpless, gurgling humanoid in the bassinet, leaving none for poor, pent-up Dad.

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Stud or Schlub: Lust on the Red Carpet

There are certain things a woman is supposed to have accumulated by this point in her life. A signature perfume. A conversation-stopping potluck recipe. And a Hollywood hunk of choice.

I have none of these things, and I spend little time fretting over it. But I must admit that each year at Academy Awards time, I grapple with some shame that I have no favorite man candy to ogle on the red carpet.

I tend to watch the awards shows surrounded by opinionated gal pals and, for the most part, I can holler tasteless comments with the best of them. We gasp and grouse over actresses’ necklines, waistlines, and panty lines. My specialty is the bitchy accessory crack: e.g., “What is that in her hair, a Krispy Kreme?” or “Earrings or necklace, honey, not both.”

It’s when my friends start hooting and gyrating over the bow-tied, limo-emerging actors — bedroom-eyed Clooney, swollen-lipped Pitt, square-jawed Brosnan — that I find myself bored and heading to the kitchen for more artichoke dip.

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The Dirty Truth

Freeze! This is the parent police. Drop your Windex and come out with your rubber-gloved hands up.

For years you sponge-happy, spore-hunting moms have shamed the rest of us with your spotless counters and sparkling floors. We don’t know how you did it, you fiendish scrub nuts, but your houses — your very children, even — were always cleaner than ours, ever implying (silently, so silently) that our families were destined to be dingy.

But you can put down your Pledge cans, ladies. Game’s over. Those of us who define “cleaning” as “aiming a Dustbuster” refuse to feel inferior anymore. Science is on our side, baby. SCIENCE!

Researchers are saying that a little dirt in the home, on the hands, or even — gasp! — in your kids’ mouths won’t hurt them. In fact, it’s good for them. It turns out that ingesting the bacteria, viruses, and even (just go with me on this one) intestinal worms found in everyday dirt actually strengthens children’s immune systems, giving them “practice” for more serious germs.

Scientists call this the “hygiene hypothesis.” I call it the “Hallelujah-I’m-not-a-failure finding.” It’s already changed my life.

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