Monday, February 23, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Boboswdn???

Sex and Suburbia, Boboswdn???
By Julie Stankowski

Do you have a black hole? An abyss? An enormous crevice? A deep, open and heavy thing? It’s usually made out of leather or fabric and hurts your shoulder so much you have to either make an appointment with a masseuse or with a chiropractor? A huge accessory for which, if you go upscale, your credit card will show a charge in excess of $1,500, maybe even $2,500 dollars?

Yes, I’m talking about a purse and I think we all have one or two (or a few hundred). And I think we should call Marc Jacobs and tell him that purses should have a size limit. For some reason, they don’t. And for some other stupid reason, we are always attracted to the biggest ones out there. It’s not a penis; it’s a purse. So, what’s the deal? The bigger the better? Definitely true for a man’s special package and for sparkly diamonds, but for purses? What is wrong with us, Ladies? Why do we have to walk around carrying a purse that would not even make the airline’s weight limit for checked bags and would end up costing us $614 in extra fees? Can we not get out of our minds, “Go big or go home?”

And I wonder why insurance companies haven’t tried to regulate the purse industry? Its claims for “pocketbook injuries” must be through the roof. I mean, heavy purses can cause shoulder pain, back pain, side pain, leg pain and who knows what other kind of pain (pain in the ass?). And these three-ton shoulder boulders can also cause stress-related injuries because even though we have everything we need in our purses, we can never find anything! It’s ridiculous. An oversized and overstuffed purse may be responsible for many more insurance claims than a reckless teenage driver. Let’s face it, purse overload is an epidemic.

So, what’s in our so-called purses anyway? But before we even get to that, why in the world is it called a “purse?” Don’t you think there are other names that would more adequately describe what we carry on our little shoulders? Potato sack of junk, perhaps? Or, Godzilla the leather accessory? Or, a “Boboswdn,” (pronounced Bob-O-Sweden), and standing for Big-Obnoxious-Bag-Of-Stuff-We-Don’t-Need. Yes, I think that description is much more appropriate.

Okay, so what’s in your Boboswdn? We all know that a Boboswdn is really just a magnet for all things unnecessary. Afraid if you reveal the contents it will give too much personal information about you? Well, I’m a risk taker and I have a blog, so I feel compelled to reveal the embarrassing things I found today while cleaning out my Boboswdn.

First, of course, I found three different sized tampons. Fair enough. None of us wants to be unprepared when we get a visit from our monthly friend (assuming we are still receiving such visits). In high school, my friends and I used to call it “Cathy.” We would say, “Ohhh, I saw Cathy today.” That was because of the famous Cathy Rigby commercials for maxi pads and in the olden days of our youth, girls did not talk about getting their periods around boys. It was a taboo subject. We were so geeky! Anyway, back from my tangent. What else was in my Boboswdn? 9 lollipops. 7 Mac lipsticks and 3 liners. About a dozen ATM receipts. A plastic Spiderman Motorcycle toy. Some crayons. 3 half-eaten boxes of animal crackers. Multiple business cards, including those from my doctors and dentist with my next year’s appointment schedules. 3 of my almost 8-year-old daughter’s necklaces and one of her bracelets.

Uh, several dry cleaning receipts, Costco receipts, Target and supermarket receipts, restaurant receipts and the kids’ gym class receipt. Tickets to my daughter’s Chanukah performance (which was obviously in December). Dental floss. Hair clips. A compact make-up mirror. 8 pens and 1 pencil. Anti-bacterial cleanser. A grocery list, a hardware list and a list of paint colors I wanted to try for my guest room. A slinky. 5 hard copies of different draft blog posts. The direction packet to my dog’s training collar. A bottle of my anti-anxiety medication (I know you never would have guessed I had something like that in my Boboswdn!). Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons, which are humongous by the way. A little baggy filled with all of my gift cards, if I ever get a chance to go shopping, which I’m thinking I should before all of the stores go out of business. My Nailtique that I take with me when I get mani/pedis to keep my nails strong. 4 empty packs of gum and about 15 loose, wandering pieces covered in crumbs or whatever it is that gathers at the bottom of my Boboswdn. My doggie’s new ear medicine for her continuing ear infection and the receipt therefor. And of course, my wallet, checkbook and business cards. Okay, that was an exhausting list! Oh, and a Wall-E Leapster game I’ve been meaning to return since Christmas (my son got a duplicate).

Well, come on, I really needed most of the stuff in my extra-heavy bag! Didn’t I? How bad can I be? When I was 16, I used to carry a hair dryer in my purse in case my hair frizzed! No joke! At least I don’t do that anymore. But the fact is, my aging shoulder (and mind) simply cannot handle the weight anymore. I need to be able to find my wallet without embarrassing myself digging and I need to be able to throw a ball with my kids. I should leave the gift cards in my glove compartment with the Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons and a bunch of other stuff. I should have 1 emergency tampon, that’s it. Every receipt needs to be thrown away or filed. The slinky needs to go back into the toy box. 1 or 2 lipsticks should be enough. Okay, I’m proving a point to myself. Clean your frickin’ purse out, Julie. Okay, I did.

And I went into my closet and found one of the smallest bags I have and that is what I will be using for now. No more Boboswdn’s. And when I have something in between my teeth and my dental floss isn’t in my tiny purse, I guess I will wing it and pull out my dentist’s business card and use the corner of it to get any spinach out of my teeth. It’s better than breaking my arm. Then I will put on one of my two lipsticks I’ll be carrying so I look pretty. Then I’ll let my husband know that I have switched pocketbooks, that there is a lot less weight resting on my hands, arm and shoulder and that I have enough strength to hold up that 10 carat diamond bracelet he’s always wanted to buy me. Then, I will refer to my purse, not as a Boboswdn, but as a Tiny-Little-Handbag-Freeing-Up-My-Shoulder-To-Carry-Extra-Carat-Weight-On-My-Wrist-Wallet-Holder. And I will call Marc Jacobs and tell him how many women will flock to his new purse collection as long as his bags are small enough and light enough for women to have the strength to hold up more jewelry on their fingers and their wrists!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Vegas, Baby!

Sex and Suburbia, Vegas, Baby!
By Julie Stankowski

Forget the brisket. I’m off to Vegas, Baby! Mommy needs a new pair of shoes! And time with her husband. And time to unwind. And time to heal her ears from the tiny voices screaming “Mommmmmm,” 1700 times a day. And time to wear real clothes instead of the glorified pajamas she wears on a daily basis. And time to actually read more than one page of a book in a 24 hour period. And time to take a shower and shave her legs without the dog and two kids standing right outside the shower door and pressing upon it, almost willing it to open like the lady on the Mervyn’s commercials (“open, open, open”). And for a million other reasons, I’m going to Vegas, Baby!

Can you tell I’m excited? My husband and I haven’t gotten away for the weekend in quite some time and I can’t wait. Okay, so how to prepare for such a trip? In my single in the city days, there would be no preparation. I would just hop on the plane and go. I was young, skinny and hot. Any clothes I threw into my bag would be fine. I would look good. Now, I am “middle-aged,” not 98 pounds skinny (but admittedly not fat), and definitely not “hot like a carefree girl in her twenties.” Now, it will take much more planning to go to Vegas and feel hot and sexy as I did in my younger days.

First, I have to make sure I have childcare. Luckily, I have amazing parents who love my children so much and have generously agreed to watch them for THREE whole nights while I have a ridiculously frivolous and fun time in Sin City. I just hope that when I get home, my parents aren’t sitting on their doorstep with the kids’ bags packed and so exhausted and exasperated from taking care of a 4 year old and an 8 year old that they need a vacation (specifically, a vacation from babysitting)! Oh, well. I’ll take my chances. Next, I have to find someone to take care of my puppy, Sonoma. This is going to be the first time she is without her family. Poor baby. Okay, I’m over it. I also have to stop my mail and my newspaper so that the big, bad suburban thieves don’t know we are out of town and don’t try to rob our house (despite the fact that I am advertising on the world wide web that I am going to be out of town)!

Here’s the harder part. My personal preparation. Gotta look good, feel good, be in the right state of mind, etc. No easy task for an aging suburban mom (okay, I’m only 40, but sometimes I feel like I am 100). First and most importantly, I have to make sure I get my waxing appointment scheduled with Atilla the Wax Hun. Nothing kills the mood like hair in the wrong places. Hair on the head: good. Hair anywhere else on the body: not good. No pain, no gain. It’s fine, I can handle the excruciating pain of one rip after the other. I just sweat like a 350 pound comedian in the middle of a stand-up routine and I scream a lot. Not unlike a typical night at my house. Then I think I’ll look on the internet to find some sort of three-day cleansing diet so I can fit into my skinny jeans! I can handle that too! A blended drink made of carrots, greens and cranberry juice that looks like vomit? No problem. Anything to flatten my stomach. Then, there’s the matter of the nails and toes. I’ll have to decide between sexy red or classy French? Not a bad decision to have to make. And, since I want to look hot not only for my husband, but also for myself (must prove to myself I still have what it takes), I think I need to go to my favorite little boutique and buy a couple of cute outfits. I know, I don’t need to do that. My closet is already overflowing. But I want to, so I will.

And, of course, there needs to be icing on the cake (or under the cake, so to speak). So, I think I’ll have to go get some new lingerie. Hey, I’m a mom and my undergarments lately leave a lot to be desired. You will usually find me in no bra, a sports bra or a tank top. Not sufficient for my romantic weekend. I want to buy some sexy, lacey, racy stuff and feel my Carrie Bradshaw-ness coming back to me. Victoria Secret, here I come! Hopefully, my boobs will be so high they get altitude sickness.

So, I have booked my airline tickets, booked my room at the Bellagio and made a reservation to see Love, the Cirque de Soleil show at the Mirage. My parents will watch the kids and my Vet will watch the puppy. I have a hair appointment, a nail appointment, a pedicure and a wax all scheduled. Tomorrow when my kids are in school, I will shop ‘till I drop (or until I have to do carpool pick-up). My preparation for my little weekend away will end up costing a small fortune, but at least I’m going to get my Mojo back for a few days. I miss my Mojo!

And next week, I will sleep however late I want to sleep. I will have sex as often as my husband can handle. It will be “hotel sex” so we can be as loud as we want to be! I will start my day with a Bloody Mary and end my day with some sort of Kahlua drink. I will order room service and champagne in the middle of the day and the middle of the night. I will play poker with all of the old men and steal their social security money. I will flirt with my husband like it’s our first getaway together. I will bring candles and lotions and potions and maybe even make a bubble bath for two. I will be in Las Vegas, Baby, and I will feel like I am in paradise. I will be wild and crazy and I will have no responsibilities. I will embrace the kid in me without having to pretend I am really a responsible adult. I will, of course, miss my little ones so much and I will call to check on my babies several times a day. The times will depend on when I have the least alcohol in my system. But then I will remember I am on vacation in Sin City and we all need to be sinful from time to time. And I will be. And it’s okay. Nobody will know what I do in Vegas. Except anybody who reads my blog when I get home!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Real Housewives, Take II

Sex and Suburbia, Real Housewives, Take II
By Julie Stankowski

I am a sick, sick person. I am addicted to the Real Housewives. Seriously, like a heroin addict. I can’t get enough of it. I’m bummed when it’s over and I can’t wait until next Tuesday. Remember when Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley were the shows we just had to be home to see every week. Those were the good old days. Now, I run to watch a group of self-centered, snobby, judgmental women and for some reason, I just can’t get enough. What’s wrong with me? Why do I find them so entertaining and fascinating?

Well, for one, I think everyone enjoys being a voyeur once in a while. That’s how I feel when I am watching the show, like I am a peeping tom looking in on people’s lives through a hole in a wall or something. But the fact is, I’m not. I am watching what they want me to.

I think I just like to watch how other people live. And I’m not alone. Don’t you ever wonder what goes on behind your neighbors’ doors? I know you do. I know this because of the success and popularity of things like People Magazine,, the Star, the Enquirer, TMZ and all kinds of stupid reality shows like the Real Housewives. Just last year, the daily life of Brittany Spears was the lead story for months on all of the major networks. Apparently, we were more interested in seeing Brittany’s Hanky Pankys (or lack thereof) than hearing about our dwindling economy. Let’s face it. We are all intrigued by the behind-the-scenes lives of others. Why do we find it so fascinating to know how (excuse my language) fucked up other people are?

Well, duhhhh, it makes us feel better about ourselves and our own lives. I mean the fact that we have a glass of wine and a Xanax once in a while (okay, maybe a lot) is nothing compared to the people we see on Celebrity Rehab and now the Sober House. We’re normal; they’re fucked up. The fact that we are so self-indulgent that we want a facial, a mani/pedi and a spray-on tan every now and then is nothing compared to the Real Housewives’ spa weekends, plastic surgery parties and over-the-top spending sprees. And don’t forget how intrigued we were by Monica Lewinsky’s stained dress. Jesus Christ, the then President of the United States was getting it on with an intern inside the Oval Office. That means we can feel totally great about ourselves for having a laundry-room quickie with our own husbands even though our kids are just a few feet away playing the Wii and eating the 10 pounds of candy we bribed them with to give us just 15 minutes of privacy. At least we are not cheating on our spouse in front of the whole world with a person half our age! Take that!

So, I must admit. After watching two episodes of the housewives last night (bonus, got to see Orange County and New York both in one evening!), I am feeling particularly normal today. I just wonder whether I will be suffering from serious withdrawal symptoms between now and next Tuesday. Well, I can watch Top Chef, American Idol, Sober House and Survivor in the meantime. Hopefully, those shows will tide me over until I can get my next fix of the housewives. I can’t wait to see the Orange County reunion show. Do you think that someone will finally ask Jeanna how long it has really been since she has had sex? Or will anybody finally confront Vicki about her ridiculous need to be the center of attention and her extreme jealousy of all those who may take that attention away from her? Will anyone have the balls to tell Tamara that she is a back-stabbing bitch?

Well, I will definitely tune in to see what happens. I’m just scared that someone (Vicki) may take a push pin or something and poke a little hole in Lynn’s boobies and they will deflate like a popped balloon in front of the whole world! OMG, so much to look forward to!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Gift of Nothing

The Gift of Nothing
By Julie Stankowski

What a great day! It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s 3:00 p.m. I’m in my pajamas and I’ve done nothing today! I repeat. What a great day! And there’s still more to come. An afternoon exchanging Valentine’s with my kids and hubby, an evening out with friends and who knows?!!!

I’m really not sure when I developed such a huge fondness for doing nothing. I love doing nothing! In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to do nothing! I know, I am really weird, but it’s the truth. So for Valentine’s Day, in addition to letting me sleep really late, my husband gave me the gift of being able to do nothing! Thank you, honey! Yes, he also got me flowers and some gifts I have not yet opened, but the gift of nothingness is priceless! And nothingness becomes even more spectacular when there is no one in the house but you. When you are a wife and mom, doing nothing in an empty house is such a rarity that it is a treasured gift when it occurs. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want it all the time and I love, love, love when my family is around, but there is a lot to be said for solitude, quiet and nothingness once in a while (not to mention cozy pajamas).

I have been enjoying my gift of nothing all day. Then, I got another gift. The doorbell rang and it was my parents. My dad wanted to bring me my Valentine’s card and gift (if you read my Valentine’s post, you know what a special tradition this is for me and my dad). They also wanted to see the kids and were quite disappointed to find “just their daughter” and not their grandkids home. But I understand. In fact, I love that! I love how much they love my children! It’s awesome. And it’s awesome having your parents around. For so many reasons! I am so grateful!

Now, my husband and kids just walked in. Time for Valentine’s galore. We don’t do anything half way in my house! It’s all or nothing. So, in about 15 minutes, the flowers on my entryway table will be joined by an abundance of Hallmark and homemade cards and overflowing with love! That’s how it should be! Today and every day! Love in the air, permeating all the nooks and crannies of your house and your heart.

Nothingness is priceless, but only because of the existence of love and family. Without that, occasional nothingness wouldn’t be priceless at all. It would just be nothing. Now, go have a great day and show your family how much you love them! And then later, maybe, you can do nothing!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, A Brisket in the Slow-Cooker

Sex and Suburbia, A Brisket in the Slow-Cooker
By Julie Stankowski

Okay, I have no idea what this column is going to be about, but I just thought it was hysterical when I heard myself say, “I have a brisket cooking in the crock pot.” Is this really me? I looked in the mirror and saw my reflection and thought, “Who are you and what have you done with Julie?” Seriously, who am I? I’m cooking a brisket in the slow cooker and it’s not even a Jewish holiday? What the hell is going on?

Well, it started a couple of days ago when my husband told me it would be kind of nice if he came home to a home-cooked meal (all right, any kind of meal) once in a while. Okay, fine. But a brisket? Jesus Christ, I could have just heated up a meal from the Costco refrigerated aisle, but nooooo, a brisket? Where is this coming from? Tremendous guilt? I don’t think so. I really don’t feel very guilty for not having dinner on the table when my husband gets home from work (well, maybe a tiny bit guilty, but anyway). My day at “work” (being a mom) was way harder than his (again, glad he doesn’t have his own blog for rebuttal time).

I tell him, “At least you get an hour of peace in the morning when you can listen to whatever you want on the radio, even if they say bad words. And you get an hour of peace in the afternoon in your car, same way. And you can go to lunch each day with your cohorts and hang. And even though you think I am eating Bon Bons and watching soap operas, you’re wrong. By the time I get the kids to school, I’m exhausted. Then, I go to the supermarket. Then, I go to the dry cleaners. Then, I go to the bank (okay, yes, I am depositing the money that you make, but if life was fair, I’d be pulling down 7 figures for my job). Then, I go to the doctor. Then, I volunteer in the school office. Then, I pick up at preschool. Then, I pick up at elementary school. Then, I go to gymnastics. Then, I go to karate. Then, I come home to take a brisket out of the slow cooker? Ummmm, what????? This is so unlike me.

So if not guilt, what was it that caused me to start cooking like my grandma? Well, there are several possible explanations for this odd behavior, but here’s the one I like. Just go with me here. You know those advertisements for living a healthy life, where they show a beautiful 20-year-old girl on the screen and then fast forward the image so you watch her rapidly aging and then, within 3 seconds, you are looking at an 80-year-old version of the same woman? Well, whatever technology makes that possible, some mean person installed it in my bathroom mirror. Seriously, I am noticeably aging by the day, by the minute.

A little more padding all over, especially the midriff. A few more lines on the face. A little less hair on the head and a little more hair in places there isn’t supposed to be hair. Yes, we all know what I’m talking about. But how has that stupid aging technology affected me mentally in addition to the physical deterioration of my once young face and body? I think when I was sleeping one night, some other meanie implanted the aging microchip in my brain, as if my bathroom mirror wasn’t enough!

Now, I’m not just looking older, I’m actually acting older too! Oy, I am becoming my grandma! A brisket in the slow cooker? What’s next, dentures and a weekly bridge game at my house? How did this happen? Inside, I still feel like a kid pretending to be an adult. I have no clue how to be a good wife, a good mom, a good hostess. I just pretend. When did I go from being a pee-on law student to an actual attorney making multi-million dollar decisions? And who are the idiots that rely on me to make these decisions? Don’t they know I am just pretending like I know what I’m doing?

And when did I go from microwave popcorn and Captain Crunch for dinner to brisket? From having one roll of toilet paper in my apartment, which when I ran out, I would use tissues even tough you’re not supposed to, but I was too lazy to go to the market, to now feeling uncomfortable if I do not have at least 50 extra rolls of toilet paper on hand? From being okay with driving on fumes to now feeling totally uncomfortable if I don’t fill up my gas tank before the little marker gets below the half-way point. From not caring how much money I gambled in Vegas to cutting coupons? From thinking my entire life that Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover were the only Jewish holidays to finding out that there are like 1000 more Jewish holidays so significant that in September and October the preschool is closed every other day? Tu B’Shevat? What?

Yes, my friends. It seems aging happens without us even knowing it. And while I wish (I really wish) that my boobies were not resting upon my tummy when I’m not wearing a Wonder Bra, I guess I just have to roll with it (Ha. Ha.). I mean who has the energy, or the money, or the chutzpah to go under the knife to change it? And even if I could look younger, it would be a total and obvious farce since I have a brisket in the slow cooker. I mean, come on, one who is cooking a brisket is obviously not the young person they once were.

So, I have decided that instead of dwelling on it, I will embrace my entrance into old-maidom with grace and dignity. But I refuse to ignore the part of me that still feels like Carrie Bradshaw living La Vita Loca in NYC. So, I will try to combine the two life stages to be the truly authentic me. Yes, I will serve my family brisket, but accompanying it will be some sort of alcohol and after it will be some sort of sugar cereal for dessert. I will cut coupons in the morning, but I will buy a totally frivolous necklace at the school boutique at pick-up time. I will take my kids to Chuck E. Cheeses, but then get a babysitter so my husband and I can go out for cocktails and dinner. And I will take my kids to Tot Shabbat on Friday night and while I am there I will pray:

Dear God, in return for me being a good Jewish mother and cooking a brisket for my family, please get that damn microchip out of my bathroom mirror and out of my brain; and please tell my husband that for Valentine’s Day a nice gift for his wife would be a gift certificate for a new Spanx, a new super bra, a facial and a spray-on tan, as well as two tickets to Las Vegas leaving in the morning so I can play poker instead of bridge. Thank you and Amen.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Will you be my Valentine?

Will you be my Valentine?
By Julie Stankowski

When you think of Valentine’s Day, what pops into your mind? Love, hearts, romance, roses, chocolates, champagne, $4.00 Hallmark cards, overpaying for dinner? Some people think Valentine’s Day is just a commercialized holiday created by florists, restaurateurs and greeting card executives simply for profit. True or not, that is a quite cynical viewpoint. Instead, choose to look at Valentine’s Day as a very special gift to yourself enabling you to celebrate those you love and appreciate. There are so few days of the year inked out for this purpose that we really should take advantage of the opportunity. Voicing our love is always good. Everybody loves being loved.

Yes, I know it has been said, but I will say it again, especially in light of the current economy. You need not spend money to show your Valentine your love! Don’t get me wrong. I readily admit that any woman would be thrilled to find a diamond tennis bracelet swimming in her champagne glass. But, for those who feel it would be more fiscally responsible to walk right by Tiffany’s and forgo taking out a loan on Valentine’s Day, I will generously share with you some of my quirky ideas to make your Valentine feel special.

Pretend you are young and create a homemade greeting card with your kids’ art supplies. Taking the time to make your own card is so much more special than running into the stationery store looking through cards you have seen year after year after year. Serve breakfast in bed using a tray adorned with heart-shaped pancakes, fresh raspberries, a glass of champagne and a condom package. When you wake up on Valentine’s Day, take out some oil or lotion and give your partner an unexpected and soothing foot massage. Tell your partner you know how hard he/she works and offer to watch the kids and the dog for the afternoon so he/she can get some much-needed alone time. Bake your love’s favorite flavor pie. Get a Brazilian bikini wax in the shape of a heart and surprise your beau. Cut fresh flowers from your garden and arrange them around a bubble-filled and candlelit bathtub. Send the kids for a sleepover at Grandma and Papa’s house, cook a romantic dinner and eat it like a picnic in front of the fireplace. Clear your junk off the bathroom counter so your husband can have at least a quarter of the countertop for his stuff. Write your lover a poem. Create a coupon book and be creative. Find an old photo of the two of you and attach a post-it note saying you love him even more now. Give lots of hugs and kisses and I love you’s.

Here is another idea. Start a Valentine’s Day tradition with your spouse or children. Family traditions are not reserved for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I look forward to Valentine’s Day every year. My Dad and I have a thing. Well, actually my Dad gives a thing and I get a thing, but . . . it is not about the “thing” (although I always love the “thing”). It is about the fact that my Dad takes the time to show me how much he cares about me. You see, he knows that I love perfume. So, each February, my Dad goes to Nordstrom and looks at all the new, hot perfumes that have come out on the market within the last year. He takes time to smell each fragrance (he even knows to cleanse his sense of smell by taking a whiff of the coffee beans in between testing different perfumes) and thoughtfully decide which he thinks I would like best. He also evaluates the beauty of the bottles. He has the gift exquisitely wrapped and comes to my house on February 14th with the perfume of course, but always with a beautiful card and a huge hug for his “Princess.” It’s our tradition. All Dads should be as thoughtful and loving as mine!

Okay, here is my last thought on this topic. If you are one of those cynics I mentioned earlier (believe me, there are many; I promise you are not alone), and just cannot seem to get past the commercialization of Valentine’s Day, take the following into consideration. I have tried to teach my children that the best gifts anybody can ever give or receive are, “Just Because Gifts.” Doing or giving something, “just because,” means so much more than doing or giving something expected for a holiday, birthday or anniversary. It just feels more pure, real, deep, sensitive and meaningful when a gift (tangible or not) comes out of left field, on an ordinary day, is unnecessary and is done or given for no particular reason at all. It just says, loudly and profoundly, “I care about you and I did this for you ‘just because’ I love you!”

So, whether you opt for denim or diamonds this Valentine’s Day or you opt out altogether and decide to go for a “just because” moment on a different day, make your Love feel special. The biggest bonus is that making someone else feel special makes you feel good too. And this is true every day of the year!