Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays

Ok, Graces, this holiday wish and sign off is coming a bit early this year, but I recognize my limitations. I'm thoroughly enjoying the hustle and bustle, and I know that I won't be posting from now thru the new year.

Got a huge kick out of this Hanukkah song, which was played in my Spin class this morning:

Candlelight. Click it, honest, you will crack up.

And Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without my beloved Bruce Springsteen's version of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.

So, my dear Graces, Happy Everything. I'll be back in Jan.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Gifts for Kids

Dear Grace,
I have four siblings, all of whom have at least two kids. I have no kids and one salary. How do I gracefully reduce my gift giving? I want to be a good sister and aunt, but I've started to dread birthdays and holidays.

Grace Says:

Suggest the following arrangement with your sibs: Once there are children involved, presents go to them only. This way, you are being both a good sister and aunt, and keeping the cost manageable. You're making your sibs' kids happy...which should make your sibs happy in the process. Give the grown-ups cards and/or things like homemade goods or coupons for a night of babysitting. Let them continue to buy things for you if they wish...until you have children of your own.

Dear Grace:

I'm a clueless but well meaning uncle. What can I give my seven year old niece for Christmas that won't make either her or her mom hate me?

Grace Says:

I love questions from well-meaning uncles. Especially ones who realize that we moms might not always agree with our daughters about what's cool or appropriate.

Some great options in this situation:

A charm bracelet. The first occasion, buy the bracelet and one charm (there are fab options online, most big department stores sell charms, or you can go upscale for the bracelet and first charm and do Tiffany.) For any or all gift occasions after that, you can give a charm that says something about her life at that point. My goddaughter, now 8 years old, has an extensive collection of charms that recall milestone memories in her life: a bikini charm for the year she learned to swim, a chihuahua charm when she got a puppy, a tutu during her ballet phase, a tiara for her princess obsession. This Christmas she's getting a microphone to commemorate her recent performance in her school's musical production. (Much as I adore my niece, I thankfully live too far away to attend. I'll watch the edited version of her scenes when I see her on Christmas.)

A book/toy combo. This is great for boys, too. Amazon.com or a good bookstore clerk can tell you what's hot and intelligent for the recipient's age group (you should have an idea whether the child is on the more- or less- mature-for-her/his-age end of the spectrum- ask the mother if you need to). Mom will love the book. We hope the kid will, too, but kids will never complain if you add a toy that's somehow connected. Like The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane with a stuffed bunny. The wonderful yet overlooked Ozma of Oz with a bling-y crown/tiara. Big Truck and Little Truck with a toy truck. Lily's Purple Plastic Purse with, I bet you can guess. The Invention of Hugo Cabret with a toy robot.

Or put the two together: a book with a charm: a copy of Charlotte's Web with a pig charm. The Spiderwick Chronicles with a fairy charm or a little key to go with A Secret Garden"...

Happy Holidays, Graces. Remember, it's the thought that counts, even if the kids haven't learned that yet.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Grace on TV

I was asked by Good Day Philadelphia to share some tips on gift giving. So I did....

Friday, December 02, 2011

Gym Etiquette 101

Gym Etiquette is the topic of the day...and you know I am a huge fan of Modern Family, so I couldn't resist posting this clip of Mitchell doing "Troga".

I know I have talked about this scourge before. Here too. But rudeness at the gym continues, and a reader requested a refresher on Do's and Don'ts. So, here are a few friendly (or not so friendly) Grace reminders...

  • Wash your gym clothes regularly. Seriously, there seem to be some people who operate on the theory that "they're going to get sweaty anyway so why bother?". This is patently gross and wholly inconsiderate of the people around you.

  • Respect personal space when you are passing fellow gym-goers at work. When people are stretching, lifting, planking, and otherwise contorting their bodies in the quest for lithe and fit muscles, do not walk by them in close proximity. Their pose or hoist may be precarious and if they twitch to avoid you they risk injury to them and you. Give a wide birth to people engrossed in serious (or not) reps.
  • Similarly, don't get any closer than is absolutely necessary during exercise. If there's only one treadmill free, and it's immediately adjacent to a fellow jogger, then you must take it; if there is an alternative, choose it. Ditto at Yoga, Spinning, Pilates, Tai Chi, or any other class. No one wants to breathe your sweaty fumes or inhale your exhalation.
  • Consider your attire. I don't care if you look like Victoria (or David) Beckham. Your abs are your own business, we don't need to see them no matter how proud they make you.

  • There's simply no Gracious way to address this, but a reader specifically asked for this one to be mentioned....If your body has a need to emit a malodorous fume, remove yourself to a private space--ideally the loo, but if that is not practical, at least to a less populous zone. Better yet consider a home workout or perhaps an outdoor jog if you seem particularly 'bubbly' on a given day.
  • Treat the locker room as your personal valet space. In other words, don't lay out your products from hair gel to foot cream across every surface so that others have no space to prep.
  • Hog the equipment. Bully for you if you plan to do supersets with increasingly large dumbbells. But consider the fact that other people want to do reps, too. Do your set, put the weights back, and grab the next increment. I promise, your biceps will still bulge, even if they have to wait 30 seconds between sets. Ditto the cardio or weight machines--remember that lesson you (should have) learned in Kindergarten about taking turns?

At this time of year, especially, we're all fighing the battle of the bulge. So be Gracious out there!