Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Whole Fam Damily at Disney from Open To Close

Gone are the days of mandatory naps- well, for the kids anyway. With the price of parking at Disney, and the time it takes to get from your car to the actual entry gate, I decided we would not take a mid-day break from the fun, but instead, we would stay at Disney from Open to Close. And we did.

I admit that the kids did amazingly well considering they were up at 7:00 and out of the condo by 8:45, at the Disney Magic Kingdom from 10:00 a.m. until just past 10:00 p.m. when we made our way toward the van. Factoring in the commute back to the condo it was almost 11:00 before their heads hit the pillows.

This was a long ass day, by any standards.

Included in this marathon of all things Disney were countless rides, adventures, shows and delights.

I think the photos do a better job of showing how much fun the kids had during their Magic Kingdom-palooza.

Do you have any idea how many lines we waited in? Do you realize that having 6 same aged kids standing in line to do something really exciting is painful. I lost count micromanaging what I could. (No wiggling, touching each other, monkeying around with ropes and poles, whining, fighting and causing others to do something naughty) Even with fast passes there is plenty of patience required. Waiting in lines is bad.

Since this was technically Nana and Papa's anniversary gift to each other, we tried to get one decent image

of all three sets of twins, or the quads and twins, or the faux sextuplets. You can call them just about anything and the general public at Disney will buy it. I still heard plenty of hushed and not so hushed whispers about our gaggle of dressed alike multiples. One lady asked me if they were all identical? I nodded and said, "They sure are, good eye, most people don't notice that." Duhhhhh. Face palm.

The evening went better than I expected and their were very few meltdowns, temper tantrums, and hissy fits. From me. The kids seemed to understand that if they dared to act like goons, I would leave and take them with me. That and the fact that each kid was given a dangling carrot of a small gift card to spend at a Disney shop.

I drilled it into their heads all day. The children that were able to behave like solid citizens all day would get to spend their gift card on the way out. I was not about to carry around four bags of crap all day long- no effing way in hell that was going to happen. I fully admit I bribed them into keeping their composure all day by using a reward. I have no shame in my game because it works.

As we made our way back to Main Street to find a spot to view the light parade, I heard someone shouting, "Helene, Helene!" The voice was not one I recognized from our group. I turned to check, and sure enough, it was Jeff's first cousin, Laura, and her family
from Indianapolis. WOW! What are the odds? It's a small world after all, only in real life. Not just at Disney.

We gathered on Main Street for the infamous

light parade. The kids watched as the show strolled by. They knew that after the show but before fireworks there would be a short break and we could use that time to redeem their much earned gift cards.

Just before the fireworks began, we stepped into the Main Street boutiques and they each selected a toy as we completed our stay.

Even Eli said, "Mom, I totally get why you did not let us buy something in the morning because we would have to keep track of our stuff on rides and in shows, and I bet something would have gotten lost and that would have been so so so so sad." Apparently my constant nagging and preaching sunk in.

As we dragged ass onto the monorail and to the van, we all recounted our favorite parts of the experience. For me, it was spending quality time with my fam damily at Disney, from open to close.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Are we having fun yet?

I have said it before, and I will say it again, it is not a vacation if you travel with the kids. Actually, taking the kids for a change of scenery is anything but relaxing. In fact, it is downright exhausting. Knowing this in advance, Jeff and I agreed to join the whole fam damily in Orlando. We must have been high.

My parents celebrated their 45th anniversary and the one thing they really wanted was to have all six grandchildren in the same place at the same time. Since this means people have to commute, we might as well select a sunny spot where there is plenty for the kids to do. Drum Roll Please.....

Destination: Orlando, Florida.

There was a ton of drama related to getting everyone in and to Orlando, but I am not going to whine about that now. Instead, I will focus on the fact that we all made it safe and sound, and the kids were ready to have the time of their lives.

Me....not so much.

I sucked it up and kept smiling, even though I really do not enjoy being financially raped at theme parks. I understand that I have four kids and when you multiply even the smallest charges by four, it adds up in a hurry. That was my choice, but I don't have to like shelling out cash at every turn. Parking, and tickets alone are ridiculous, but add in snacks and meals and you are talking a second mortgage. I am too cheap to play along with that game, so I pre-meditate the stuff I can and suck it up for the rest.

It takes serious effort to pack enough snacks, treats and beverages to avoid paying for them when you have 4 kids and 3 adults in your group. This is the part that is actual work. This is an example of why I can't bring myself to refer to these trips as vacation. Let's remember, this is a change of scenery.

The Universal Studios park was our first official outing in Orlando. Here is our whole group or motley crew,
as we entered the gates and channeled our inner Griswold. I made Jeff this customized tee shirt especially for the occasion.
It shuts down all the typical questions and commentary we get from the general public peanut gallery. After previous amusement park adventures, I thought it best to nip some of the half assed comments in the bud.

The kids were having such a wonderful time that it was hard not to go with the flow. Watching your children experience joy

is in fact contagious, even for a cheap scrooge like me.

The cousins, 6 Eichenwald grandkids or fake sextuplets, went from ride to ride laughing, giggling

and squealing with pure child like enthusiasm. Somehow, Rachelle and I were able to color coordinate them for the day. I keep saying that this will be the last year they let us do it, and yet, we still manage to pull it off. It does make it easy to keep track of all the small people from a visual standpoint.

So to answer the question in the title of the post, YES, we are having fun. Clearly the kids are anyway- but me....let's just say, I am doing whatever it takes to get from breakfast to bedtime without harming the festive, change of scenery spirit.

Am I having fun yet? YES, I am so long as the kids stay asleep while I drink my mojitos and download the sim card from my camera.

Stay tuned for tales from Disney-
With Love,
The Queen

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Slutsky Name Calling- a lesson in ethics

The topic of conversation among my children never ceases to amaze me. They have full fledged discussions on random topics and since each one has a different opinion these often escalate into arguments. It is like I am coaching a debate team. Every. single. day!

I overheard the kids discussing a child in Charlotte’s class. The next thing I know, they were giggling and cracking up about something and it became clear I needed to ask some questions. The volume had escalated, they were acting like goons and it was obvious they were up to no good. All I could determine was that they were saying burger, cheeseburger, hamburger on a bun and so on and so forth. Upon investigating the subject, it turned out they were making fun of someone’s last name. The last name was innocently enough, BERGER.

WHOA! Hold on. I had to refrain myself. The SLUTSKY kids were talking about the hilariousness of another kid’s last name? I had to nip it in the bud.

Of course my cherubs do not realize this is a slippery slope. They do not realize our last name contains SLUT nor would they even begin to understand the irony of their actions. This is one time when I had to address the principle head on. We do not make fun of names, period.

I believe they all understood my seriousness, and maybe someday they will look back on this life lesson and nod their heads in agreement. I am sure it won’t be long before they know the tooth fairy isn’t real, and our last name is slightly humorous.

Until then, I am just managing the debate team with a lesson in ethics.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Love Affair with Marco Bicego Continues

It is no secret that I married for love. I kissed my fair share of frogs before I found my prince, Jeff Slutsky. I am happily married, in love, I have everything I always dreamed about and I really would not change a thing.

If I had not married for love, I would have married a plastic surgeon, or a fine jeweler. I am fairly sure that unlimited access to either would keep me going in a loveless relationship, at least for a while.

This week my favorite Italian jeweler, Marco Bicego came to visit me at Saks.
When I say he came to visit me, I mean he was scheduled to present his collection during a trunk show and personal appearance, but in my mind, he was there to see yours truly.

Marco Bicego is the ultimate designer of wearable, everyday jewelry that is meant to be layered and showcased on the body.

While his collection is amazing, it is not the kind of jewelry you would keep in a safety deposit box or in a vault. It is throw it on with anything and add instant ooomph to any outfit. This makes his pieces even more delightful, in my opinion.

Aside from the fact that the man is charming, sexy and incredibly friendly, Marco has a product that is truly desirable. Everyone who meets Marco Bicego wants to own one of his pieces. Myself included. He is a gifted artist and I have decided that he is officially on my list of candidates to audition to be my next husband.

Let's face it, we all need options. I have not had the time or resources to shop for a handsome and talented plastic surgeon candidate, so my list begins with Marco Bicego in the jeweler category.

The love affair continues in my warped mind- from Columbus to Italy. Ciao!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Go Ahead, Twist My Arm Giant Eagle

When you turn seven years old, celebrating your birthday can turn into a week long, or in our case, month long event. No one in my home is complaining about the never ending birthday soiree that has taken on a life of its own.

The triplets birthday was actually October 2nd. Children who have an October birthday were invited to the Learning and Activity center inside the Market District Giant Eagle for a celebration. All of the kids were truly excited for this day, and they were chomping at the bit to get there. Like you need to twist my arm to drop them off, let them make messy crafts, play games and do puzzles while they are supervised by the team of "teachers" and aides? As if I would pass up the opportunity to have a made to order omelet and a latte by myself while waiting for the kids to finish their party on a Sunday morning?

As I peacefully ate brunch and sipped my cinnamon and brown sugar latte the kids were at their party hosted by Giant Eagle. There was all kinds of pomp and circumstance, including professional face painters. Did I mention that this was free, as in we were guests at the party hosted for the October birthday people? If you are thinking this is mom's of multiples nirvana, you are absolutely correct.

Two and a half hours later, I had cut all the coupons from the Sunday paper, done my grocery shopping and had eaten brunch. BY MYSELF.

I went to pick up the kids from the center and they were not ready to leave. Do you even understand how amazing this is? They wanted more time. They wanted to stay longer. Like I am going to argue with that? Okay, so I shuffled back to the cafe area with my overflowing cart full of groceries and I read Mommie Porn, also known as People Magazine. I got current on the drivel about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise (yawn) and I saw Kate Middleton's boobies as she sunbathed in France.(whoop-dee friggin do)

When the kids were finally ready to go, I picked up Ironman, a cute puppy, a zebra and a cheetah.

They were so stinking cute that I made them pose on the patio and ended up serving them lunch before we went home.

This was the perfect way to celebrate a birthday, if you ask me- or my children. Free childcare, face painting, cupcakes, games and prizes....c'mon Giant Eagle, you had me at hello.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The BIG Reveal

I admit that on occasion, I watch the various make over shows. I of course, cringe at the befores and look forward to the afters, who doesn't? What not to wear, extreme makeover home edition, you name it- the excitement is in the big reveal.

My children lovingly(?) decorated what we called their playroom. It was with their own hands, crayons, markers and pencils that the finishing touches were strategically placed upon the walls in the living room. The marks got higher and higher as the children got taller and could doodle, draw and damage the surfaces. This was their area, albeit temporarily, until they outgrew needing a confined safe space.

After five plus years of abuse,

the playroom looked like a Jackson Pollack painting. Up close you could decipher the code of colors, letters, numbers, stick figures and various other sketches. We were proud that they achieved such a milestone in their artistic expression, because we knew it was just a phase.

Someday, we would paint over the masterpiece and it would be gone, much like my sanity. That day has come and I am going to reveal the new and improved living room that Jeff and I have reclaimed it.

Bye Bye playroom, hello parental oasis. Gone are the splattered walls. Disgusting, soiled and bacteria infested carpet be gone, it is outta here. Ripped and custom decorated leather furniture, ADIOS. There is no place for that in our newly revamped room.

Hello freshly painted walls, berber carpet and new (to us) furniture. The reveal is here, and it is spectacular.

Jeff even said, we could actually have people over now. Not that he is Mr. Marvin Jewert or anything, but just the notion that we could invite non relatives over to share a glass of wine is a new found freedom.

In our quest to raise responsible, solid citizens, we did what was important, and we did not micromanage our kids 24-7-365. We allowed them to have their own place to create and be free. Some people thought this was awful and others thought it was genius. Jeff and I did not care what they thought, this was our home, these were our kids and we felt strongly that this was a concession we could live with, for a while.

All that is left of the toddler friendly zone are sweet memories. The extreme living room makeover and big reveal are finally here, in my home.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Secrets, Shopping, Spanx and Social Media

When I started my job in the Fifth Avenue Club last year, I signed an iron-clad, legally worded, confidentiality agreement. What happens inside my office, stays inside my office, unless my clients tag me in their facebook posts. And they do.

Along with the code of personal shopper ethics, I completed corporate training on all kinds of do’s and don’ts when it comes to the internet, social media and general communications. It was clear that what happens inside the store, stays inside the store. I got it.

While I would never cross the line of divulging private information about my co-workers, clients and vendors, there is a part of me that would like to take credit where credit is due. If I completely transform someone from geek to chic, it would nice to have the opportunity to use the before and after photos for my portfolio. That won’t happen by my doing alone, and I am okay with it.

Over time, my clients become my friends and my friends become my clients. Things get a tad blurry when this happens, mainly because my customers are excited about their new look, fabulousness and general image improvements and they reveal the details. That is their choice- and I am glad to see the pride they have in the changes we have made. They can talk about it first, I can’t. Once it is officially out there, believe me, I will chime in. And I do.

For example, my friend and Jeff’s longtime speaker pal, Susan RoAne was in town. I brought her to the store and she got a make up lesson and some fashion advice. She was so impressed with her new look, that she took photos in my fitting room and immediately posted them to her linked-in and facebook fans. Additionally, she tweeted and changed her profile photo
to this one, taken in my office. I could not really brag about it, but Susan led the way, and now I can safely report the same. If you need to know how to work a room, ask Susan RoAne, if you need a bit of retail therapy, ask me.

As I have mentioned before, I am living vicariously through the parties, events and vacations that my client friends attend in the clothing and accessories we have chosen. I do feel like there is a little part of me that is with them on their adventures. It is only natural that I have a connection to these folks- after all, we shared time in a fitting room and that bonds you, believe me.

My friend Babette knows this and it is with her permission that I am able to share the following information. The spanx bra-lellulah I sold Babette was worn last week (underneath an awesome outfit) to meet with the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Babette called me to share the news. We chatted as she drove downtown to clear the Secret Service detail. The bra she bought from me was being worn during a round table discussion with Barack Obama. How cool is that? Not only was one of my dear friends going to meet and converse with our President, but she was taking me with her- sort of. It does not matter who you vote for in the upcoming election, meeting any President of the United States is effing awesome. ( Sadly for Suzanne, I believe this trumps the Pink Tartan sweater worn on t.v. during the Democratic National Convention.)

The only thing that could make this better would have been if Babette wore the bra on the outside of her clothing and got a photo of herself with the POTUS himself. (just kidding) Instead, Babette had this image taken,
and she was gracious enough to share it with me for the blog. Nothing makes me happier than to have been a wee part of this memorable event in her life.

Spanx bras and Presidents of the United States have one thing in common- they can be life changing. Bra-lellulah and amen to that.

This is one time when I can honestly say that I had a bit of influence in creating an uplifting moment in history. Pun intended.

On days when my feet ache, my back is sore, and I can’t bear the thought of hanging up one more PAUW jacket, I look back to all the smiling images on my desktop and I realize, I was born to do this. Personal shopping and social media, how I love thee.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Re-Purposing The Swatches

Long before it was called re-purposing, creatively finding a use for recycled items was just common sense. My grandmother was the queen of using up leftovers, saving miscellaneous strings, rubber bands, jars, cans, bags and otherwise disposable crap. Since she lived through the great depression, she understood the meaning of getting the most for your money and not being wasteful.

Grandma's unique talent at being a thrifty saver, was obvious in her home. There were gobs of extra buttons organized in old prescription bottles, rubber bands attached to the inside doorknobs of closets, and mini hotel and motel soaps piled high in the linen closet. These are all examples of her "recycling." Open an issue of REAL SIMPLE magazine today, and you would see that re-purposing has its own section. Clearly, Grandma was ahead of her time.

One of the most memorable re-purposing projects included the sample fabric swatches from Grandpa's wholesale Men's Clothing line. When Grandpa would meet with the retail store buyers,
he would show the suits and together they would select fabrics from the sample swatch cards. At the end of the season the squares of suiting fabrics were useless, except to my Grandmother. Instead of tossing them in the trash, she had them sewn into a large patchwork like quilt. When finished it was a huge blanket of checkerboard fabrics lined with soft cotton flannel and decorated at the seams with a satin ribbon.

These winter blankets were heavy, warm and designed to last a lifetime. These were aptly called the swatch blankets and they were an exclusive production. You could save money on natural gas by turning the thermostat down at night and hovering under one of these blankets. I am sure this is what Grandma did. I, on the other hand, sleep with a window cracked open because I am always roasting.

To this day at Saks Fifth Avenue, Men's suits can be custom ordered
from sample swatches. Imagine my delight when I attended a product training session this week with the representative from Giorgio Armani and saw the swatch cards sitting on the table. I smiled knowing that if Grandma had been there, she would have snagged those suckers for future blanket making.

I told the manager of the department about the re-purposing and he thought it was awesome. Later in the day he brought me an enormous bag full of previous season swatches from Armani, Hickey Freeman and a host of other vendors. The piles of swatches had been in the stockroom and since the fabrics were discontinued, they were mine to take home. I was a bit giddy at the thought of making my own swatch blanket.

Given that I have been working crazy hours at the store, then coming home and crafting condom corsages, the swatch project is on the back burner until after Condom Couture. I can't wait to create a heavy wool blankie for Jeff. He is freezing at night and I am always hot. This could be the blanket that saves our master bedroom heating and cooling dilemma.

Re-purposing is like retail- it is in my blood.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Life Lessons and Celebrations

Everyday is an opportunity to teach my kids some important life lessons. There is always something I am yammering about, driving messages home, and hoping that just a fraction of my good intentions stick. These kids need to learn compassion, empathy and kindness NOW, and believe me, it is not something they just instinctively know!

Last year, they learned about doing good deeds, which in Hebrew is mitzvot. This is one of the benefits of the Jewish education. Paying it forward, doing the right things, and showing support of those who need it, are life lessons that I too try to drill into their brains. I have proof that they understand this concept.

The proof came yesterday when we went to the NICU at Ohio State. As we do every year on the trio's birthday, we took treats to the nurses. As we dropped off the cookies and said hello to our NICU staff, the kids really got the opportunity to talk with Dr. Cordero and the nurses. This was the first visit where the kids engaged them in dialogue. Normally they run around all willy nilly and act like goons showing off and creating a scene in the hallway outside the sleeping preemies.

While we took the annual photos,
one of Eli's intake nurses started a deep and meaningful conversation with him. I could see him listening to her every word as she said, "Seeing you guys all big and strong makes us know that the work we do is important. We really appreciate your visits because it shows us that our jobs are helping people- when you were born no one knew how you would turn out, and now that we can see it with our own eyes, it proves that we did a good job back when you were this small (pointing to a baby)and fragile. Thank you for making us feel special."

As we rode the elevator down, Eli said, "Mom, we need to feed the nurses every year because it is a mitzvah. They appreciate us and we appreciate them because the work they do is very impressive. Hashem watches over them and they watched over us."

I was silent. His words and expressions let me know that he completely gets it. The lesson is not lost on Rabbi Eli. His sensitivity astounds me.

The big time 7 year celebration continued into the evening. The kids had dinner at BD Mongolian BBQ. We take full advantage of the kids eat for 99 cents specials. The big hit of the evening were the tin foil, custom made hats
in honor of the birthday celebration. This was an unexpected surprise. The adorable factor was not lost on my children.

Paige prepared a beautiful gluten free cake to complete the meal.
There wasn't any fighting for the frosting roses, since she topped the cake with chocolate dipped fresh strawberries. Being a dye free home has advantages you know- this is one of them.

When we look back at the 7-7-7 birthday celebration- there's more than just the smiling faces. There are life long lessons learned.

The older crowd

The older crowd
Amanda and Mitchell

A blast from the past...makes it all so real now