Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let me answer your questions! Gluten Free cruise ship information, designer boutique kids' clothes and MORE!

I have been asked a bunch of questions both in the comment section of the blog, and in direct email. I gave all the questions some real consideration and thought it wise to edit and review rather than just firing off random answers. I have a little bit of knowledge about a ton of things but I am only an expert on J-date advice, designer shoes, and dressing husbands to look like metrosexuals. Sadly, none of the questions were directed at my true expertise, so I took a few days to stew about it all and I am ready to answer your questions! Are you Ready?

Was Freedom of the Seas GLUTEN FREE FRIENDLY?- Evelyn and Marty are thinking about taking a cruise with grandchildren that have dietary issues including gluten free, and they asked about our experience on the ship. I am keenly aware- almost obsessed with menus, recipes and restaurants that offer dedicated gluten free food. I notice GLUTEN FREE at a glance when it is on labels or signage. The Freedom of the Seas waitstaff was most generous in accommodating any of our food requests. CJ was not with us but we keep him in mind when we dine anywhere- and this trip was not an exception. The main dining rooms on the cruise offer made to order meals- for example I am allergic to bell peppers. I told our waiter on the first night that I had to be careful about any foods made with Bell Peppers- he immediately made a note of it and gave me the option to pre-order my meals to be made without them. He brought me the dinner menu a day in advance each night so I could order things custom made without the allergens. Additionally this applied to other food issues too, like my BIL Nat who wanted all his salads with a fat free dressing- even on Caesar Salad. N0 PROBLEM. DONE. The RCCL website offers the following information specifically geared for this question and their answer is: We make every effort to accommodate our guests' dietary requirements whenever possible. We can accommodate special needs such as: Food allergies, Gluten-free, Vegetarian (except for vegan/macrobiotic) Low-fat Low-sodium, Lactose-free/soy milk, Ensure, and kosher meals are no extra charge. All you have to do is notify us at least 45 days prior to sailing. Just send an e-mail that includes the guests' names, reservation ID number, ship's name and voyage date to the relevant address below:
Food allergies -
Kosher meals -
Kosher for Passover meal requests MUST be received 60 days in advance in order to be accommodated.
Indian-style vegetarian meals -
Gluten-free/celiac meals -
Fax requests may be sent to 305-539-6018 Attn: Special Meals Request

SO YES....they will be able to help you and your grandchildren enjoy the trip! Have fun Evelyn and Marty- we did!

How do I find the time to Blog? This is an easy one. I prioritize my time so that the last thing I do is clean the house. I would much rather sit at the computer and chronicle the day than obsess over spilled milk- figuratively speaking of course. I do the bare minimum it takes to keep order, and since I do not really scrapbook, or save all the photos in a cutesy album with captions, I blog instead. Once I got into it I felt relieved that my children would have some details on their early years. See guys, when you are older and you look back at this entry, you will know that our house was embarrassing so that YOU would have a blog to document your youth. I did this FOR YOU! I am sure that "normal" folks have floors you could eat off of, AND pretty scrapbooks, but I prefer to prioritize. Now that I am cranking with, it does not take me more than about 10-15 minutes to update the blog posts. Although when I am trying to fall asleep at night, I think about what I will be journaling the next day.

Where do you buy your kids clothes and bows? The real question should be how much do I spend to keep our children dressed like models? The answer is easy, I buy most of our "good" stuff a season ahead when the stores and boutiques just want to make room for the new merchandise. I have to gauge and hunch to anticipate next year sizes-- which is getting easier as they get older. I get the basics like undershirts, turtlenecks and socks at the Children's Place Outlet and I always have a coupon for at least another 15% off. I sign up for all the emails and coupons known to man in both the full price and outlet stores. I have a special aol e-mail address I use just for this purpose so I can check it every week or so and not flood my primary e-mail with constant solicitations to shop. I find that buying the designer labels is a better choice since I am able to re-sell them on E-bay afterwards. I score most of the boys Ralph Lauren Polo and Vineyard Vines stuff at Marshall's or TJ Maxx and I tend to wait until it is on clearance there. I also hit the HARTSTRINGS outlet which has a standard rack of past season stuff at 80% off, Brother-Sister collections, and they send me coupons for additional savings too. I love certain shee shee poo poo labels for the girls and I am able to google search the brand, along with the word clearance or sale to find on-line stores with heavy bargains. My favorite brands are: ZAZA Couture, Baby Lulu, Trish Scully, OILILY, Lilly Pulitzer, Cache Cache, The English Roses, Lelli Kelly and The Bailey Boys. As for the coordinating bows, I have a bow board with a huge collection and I find a ton of them on e-bay and through my moms of multiples network. They never outgrow the size of a bow so once I invest in a supply they will work until the girls are no longer using hair bows. By then I will be able to re-sell them to some other matchy matchy mommie with a wee girlie girl.

How much do you spend on groceries? Honestly, this one took me a while to answer correctly. I get bits and pieces everywhere but our main stop is COSTCO. I buy anything and everything I can in bulk, and when necessary I re-package the food for prolonged use. We have a kitchen fridge-freezer side by side for the daily go to items. In the garage we have another side by side combo (from Jeff' bachelor condo days) and we bought a separate stand up freezer- it holds more than a freezer chest and is much easier to see and access the contents. I am really a fan of batch cooking as a huge time saver, and I use my crock pot almost everyday for something. I make a weekly stop at Trader Joe's for Gluten free snacks and some freezer foods. We have a local health food store with an enormous Gluten Free department- The Raisin Rack, is a monthly stop where I am able to really stock pile the GF ingredients. We used to make a Whole Foods run every Friday Night when we took the kids to the Five for $5 appetizer and wine tasting, but now that the weather is cold and it gets dark before 5:00 we have given that up and I am able to buy most of the same things elsewhere. So, back to the nitty gritty- are you sitting down? Our mortgage payment is the highest monthly expense, followed by groceries- which run us about $1200 a month. YIKES! Just think how high it would be if I bought pre-packaged, ready to eat meals, and did not bargain shop with coupons and bulk-batch cooking? Better yet, try to guess what we would spend if we actually took the whole family OUT TO DINNER more than just once in a while?

Are you going to have more kids? Believe it or not, I get asked if "we are done" all the time. People who know us well would never ask us such a personal question, but complete strangers ask me all the friggin time. I would love to have more children- I would love that, really, I would. I could handle it if my husband were on board, (he is not), if we were younger, if we were wealthy, and if we could have a bigger house. I do not for see any of the criteria being met, so it is safe to say we are done. If you ask Jeff, he will say, "NO MORE LIVING THINGS IN OUR HOUSE, NO PLANTS, NO ANIMALS, HE WILL NOT EVEN ADOPT A HIGHWAY!" and even though he really means it, I still long to expand our crew to add a dog and another bonus baby. Jeff says I can have as many babies as I want with my next husband- and after all, I am an expert at J-date, so...perhaps I should quit shopping at Costco, and start shopping on J-date again. Do you think they have a section for Jewish Polygamists? I could handle another (additional) husband that wanted more kids, made oodles of money, and would be a neat freak- he could clean and I could blog. WOW, our family photos would really be cool- two metrosexual Jewish husbands, a dog and a dozen kids- forget the blog- we would get a reality television show for sure!

Ask and you shall receive- you asked, I answered and I asked more questions too. Keep the inquiries coming- anything else you want to know? I need more blog material so bring it on!


Kirsten said...

I always wonder if having kids that wear the matched, beautiful outfits happens in nature or if this is something they have learned or accepted? hmmm? My kids are in the complete opposite direction. You would be horrified to see my oldest daughter. her favorite outfit is a pair of orange socks, a red and green pleated plaid skirt and a black halloween t-shirt. My youngest simply wears a white tutu everyday. It is so restful to look at your coordinated kids!

The Husband said...

Honey -- That's a lot of detail! I'm surprise you didn't post our tax returns too. Now, your comments about house cleaning are way understated. I remember picking up some clothes off our bedroom floor last week and getting a big surprise. When did we install hard wood floors?

However, if you mention J-Date again, I'll have to cancel our high speed. I simply refuse to share you. Now if you want to talk about an add-hoc wife . . .

The Wife said...

Thanks Jeff...if she cleans and produces a serious income, let's discuss!

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