Monday, May 31, 2010
Dr. Wakefield has been taken to task by plenty of bloggers and media outlets for his sketchy research practices, his opposition to the MMR vaccine, and his contribution to the anti-vaccine movement -- and rightly so. In interviewing him last week -- on the same day that he was interviewed live on the Today show by Matt Lauer, who played several minutes of background video before cramming a few predictable questions about his research into the last minute or so of the segment -- to me, the new information was the fact that Wakefield had lost his license to practice medicine and the fact that he was committed to continuing his research, albeit with animals instead of people. So that's what I wrote about.
Yes, I wrote that "our conversation about new areas of autism research was fascinating, and he had some interesting points to make about vaccines and autism in general." It was, and he did. But our conversation wasn't just about his research, and the points he made (most of which have been made before by many others -- I've written about it here) were surprising, given the general assumption -- mine included -- that he is completely anti-vaccine.
Is the man charistmatic? Of course he is. Is he defending himself? Obviously, yes. Did he deserve to lose his medical license? Given the many issues with his original research, I think so (though he told me he feels that it's an attempt to discredit him, I have to say that he did plenty to discredit himself). Is there more to the story than the questions everyone else has already asked? Always.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Back when I was a kid -- you know, way back when we walked to school uphill both ways in the snow and liked it -- my parents used to invite my entire class to my summertime birthday parties -- plus my classmates' parents and siblings. We had a pool and a huge yard and kids would swarm around like cake-fueled bees while the parents would sip beer and eat grilled tandoori chicken and much fun would be had by all, no clowns, magicians, bounce houses, or petting zoos required. (I'm sure it took a while to clean everything up, but I don't remember hearing anyone complain.)
Sure, throwing the bash at an all-purpose party place means that you keep the clean-up and planning to a minimum, but the costs can skyrocket easily, and you're limited as to the number of guests you can invite. So let's revisit the backyard, and perhaps even some simpler times: Here are 10 ideas for birthday parties you can throw at home. While you will have to contend with clean-up duties, your kids and their guests will have a blast, and you won't be left with an achingly empty wallet.
Pirate party: This party theme comes together in a snap, and has plenty of possibilities for those who have more time to plan. Give each guest a black eye patch and a colorful bandanna when they arrive. A treasure hunt provides indoor (or outdoor) entertainment and party favors (they can tie their booty up in their bandannas). Serve hot dogs cut into squiggly sea creatures for lunch, and follow it up with cake decorated with a jolly roger flag and chocolate coins.
A sleepless sleepover. At most sleepovers, there's precious little sleep to be had; at this one, that's on purpose. Ask guests to arrive in their very best PJs. Pile all of your pillows on the floor, pop some popcorn, and settle in for a few hours of fun. Girls can decorate deluxe eye masks, indulge in a makeover, and watch a chick flick; boys can bring their Wii remotes and hold a gaming tournament, rent a gush-free superhero movie, or bring and trade their favorite collectables. Got a mixed crew? Pitch tents in the yard (or living room), roast marshmallows in the fireplace (or over tea light candles), tell ghost stories in the dark, and send each guest home with an inexpensive DVD (or a gift card to a rental place).
A costume parade: What little kid wouldn't want to wear their Halloween costume over and over again? Let the decorate miniature pumpkins from the supermarket with glittery foam stickers (a bargain at craft stores), jump in leaf piles (if the weather is nice), and get a head start on their Halloween candy collection. But you don't have to wait until late October to throw a costume party for your kid. Break out the dress-up clothes and let them parade through the house adorned in thrift-store finery; snap a digital photo of them to slip into the goodie bags.
A Teddy bear picnic: Preschoolers love this. Spread sheets out on the lawn and offer up tea (or juice), tiny sandwiches, and mini cupcakes. Sing songs, play Duck Duck Goose and I Spy, and fill small baskets with treats to take home.
Hail to the chef: If your child loves helping you in the kitchen, a chef party is the way to go. Colorful aprons ($9.99 for 12 at Oriental Trading Company) and inexpensive cookie cutters make great party favors; older kids can make their own pizzas and decorate their own cupcakes while younger kids hone their "cooking" skills on homemade play dough or goop.
Go car crazy: If your kid has a need for speed, give each guest a Matchbox car or two and stage a race down the driveway (you can find generic cars on sale practically for pennies at Walgreens). Plastic cars make great cake toppers (decorate a sheet cake to look like the open road), and let the kids relax with a little vintage "Speed Racer" before the party's over.
Princess perfect: Guests can wear their own dress-up clothes to make a picture-perfect grand entrance; snap a quick picture of each princess and let them decorate foam or wooden frames to put them in, or have each girl decorate her own tiara. A princess topper turns any supermarket cake into something worthy of royalty, and streamers easily transform your living room into a grand ballroom for some twirling and dancing before settling down to a princess movie and popcorn.
Make some magic: Kids can craft their very own magic wands using wooden dowels, ribbons, tinsel, and glitter; have them compete in a contest to see who can come up with the most creative magic spell. Hire a magician if you like, or enlist a relative to do some simple card tricks and a goofy act. Older kids may enjoy a Harry Potter flick, while littles may get a kick from the retro-fantastic wizard scene from Fantasia. Wizards and magicians don't eat cake; conjure up a stack of brownies instead and watch them disappear.
Beach in your backyard: Celebrate a summer birthday with a beach bash right in your own backyard. Playground sand and large, colorful towels make an easy setting; add a slip-and-slide or two, volleyball or badminton, and a cooler full of ice pops, and organize a water-balloon toss, a soaked-sponge relay race, or a squirt-gun battle. (Got a Spongebob SquarePants fan at home? Serve sliders and call them Krabby Patties, slide hotdogs onto skewers and say they're Chum-on-a-stick.) Have kids wear their bathing suits, and don't forget the sunscreen.
Shining star: Stock up on 4th-of-July decorations when they go on clearance, and throw your child a Shining Star party any time of year. Ask parents to bring their video cameras, split the kids into teams, and have them shoot their own movies. Give out small notebooks and let them collect one another's autographs. If the party runs late, a few sparklers will help you end the celebration on a fun and festive note.
You can stretch your birthday money farther by forgetting about themed plates, cups, and cutlery -- all that stuff ends up in the trash anyway, right? Instead, stick with easy-to-find paperware from the grocery store. Hold the party in the mid-afternoon, so you can serve snacks and cake instead of a complete meal. And other parents will adore you if you avoid filling the goodie bags with tons of candy or plastic junk; over at Work It, Mom! I've pulled together a slideshow of 10 great non-candy party favors.
Monday, May 24, 2010
The British government stripped Dr. Andrew Wakefield of his license to practice medicine today, citing "serious professional misconduct" in research methods used in his 1998 study about the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine and autism, the results of which led millions of parents to stop vaccinating their children. Dr. Wakefield calls the British ruling an effort to discredit his work, and said that he will continue with his research into vaccines and autism.
"My concern is for vaccine safety, for a safety-first vaccine policy," Dr. Wakefield told me in an interview today. "I have every intention of continuing to serve this population of children for as long as I can."
I expected to be up-in-arms while talking to this controversial scientist, whose research has come under attack for being impartial and unethical. Instead, our conversation about new areas of autism research was fascinating, and he had some interesting points to make about vaccines and autism in general.
According to the Associated Press, vaccination rates in the UK have never recovered after Wakefield's 1998 study linking the MMR vaccine to autism in children -- in spite of the fact that the study involved just 12 children, clearly stated that no causal connection between the two had been proven (though it did say that the possibility had been raised), and was officially retracted in February by the Lancet, the medical journal in which it was originally published. Some people have extrapolated the findings to include all vaccinations, not just the MMR.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I understand Miley Cyrus' desire to reach out to a new target audience -- her "Hannah Montana" fan base is mostly 8 to 10 years old. And, as a former 17-year-old girl myself, and the stepmom of an about-to-be-17-year-old girl, I understand the very normal teenage need to be seen less as a child and more as an adult.
Some critics warn that Miley is following in Britney Spears's footsteps, breakdowns and all. But I think that Miley and her foray into caged lap-dancing is more the symptom than the problem itself. For every teenage star desperately trying to reach out to an older crowd (and be taken "seriously" as an adult), and for every self-professed virgin-until-marriage who falls short, you have scores of little kids whose parents encourage them to do things like this:
These little girls are amazing dancers, but are the moves (not to mention the outfits) appropriate for kids who haven't even hit double digits yet? Unlike Britney, Cristina, Miley and the bubblegum pop crowd, they're not oversexualizing themselves -- adults are doing it for them.
So, whose to blame? The parents who give their permission? The adults who come up with the choreography? Or society in general, for clamoring for more?
Thursday, May 20, 2010
While most -- OK, all -- moms I know aren't gunning for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, there is a parallel, which I mentioned over at The 36-Hour Day and which they're talking about over at Babble Magazine: Much of the work we do as a parents helps us hone the skills that apply directly to the work we want to do for pay.
Some of those opposed to Kagan's nomination are focusing on comments she made about the Constitution while working as a clerk for Thurgood Marshall. Others take issue with the fact that, while Dean of Harvard Law School, she barred military recruiters from campus because of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Still others insist that she's not qualified because, even though she has worked in all three branches of government, has spent decades studying Constitutional law, and currently represents the government before the Supreme Court, she has never actually been a judge.
But Kagan isn't the first Supreme Court nominee to not have served as a judge prior to nomination -- not by a long shot. Her former boss, Thurgood Marshall, was a lawyer when he was nominated. Of the eight Supreme Court judges nominated by President Kennedy, President Johnson, and President Nixon, five of them (White, Goldberg, Fortas, Powell, and Rehnquist) hadn't served as judges prior to their nominations. In fact, 14 of the 16 Chief Justices were not judges prior to appointment. And they did just fine.
As work-at-home, stay-at-home, entrepreneurial, or part-time working moms, we've gained skills acting as the CEOs of our families that more than qualify us for the workforce at large. If you're thinking of a career switch, don't justify your decision to leave; focus on the skills you have that make you an asset elsewhere. Rejoining the workforce? Instead of dreading having to explain that so-called resume gap, think about how you can apply the skills you honed at home: scheduling, multitasking, personnel management, communication, budgeting... the list goes on and on.
Elena Kagan is inspirational for what she's already accomplished, regardless of what happens with this nomination.
Parents who are working in so many different ways: What skills have you already gained? And how do they apply to your job, or to what you want to do next?
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Next up: Taxes 2010 (and how to cope with an audit). Organization is key, both for filing your return and for dealing with fallout if the IRS comes knocking.
Married but separate: The case against merging your money. I wrote about this from a more personal point of view here and at The 36-Hour Day, but basically experts agree that there are certain situations (remarriage, outrageous debt, diametrically opposed spending habits) where it makes more sense to keep separate accounts.
Tricks for keeping track of your household expenses. You probably already have a system; here's how to make it even better.
How decide how to trim your budget. What stays and what goes? I interview money experts and share their 2 cents with you. (Hint: Pay Uncle Sam first, then anything that can be foreclosed or reposessed, and juggle or eliminate the rest.)
Do you talk to your kids about money? An interview with financial expert and father-of-two Prakash Dheeriya, author of the 20-book Finance for Kidz series.
10 ways to save money on your vacation. With airlines charging $50 or more per checked bag roundtrip, it may cost less to send them via FedEx or US Mail, cram all of your stuff into your carryon (it can be done -- I proved it a few years back in a piece for The Boston Globe) -- or buy small essentials once you're at your destination. Read the other nine tips at Yahoo.com.
Credit card safety for business travelers. These tips apply to leisure travelers as well. It's too easy these days for scam artists and identity theives to take advantage of you while you're away from home.
You save, he spends: How to find common ground. Are you a saver married to a spender? Then this article is a must read.
5 ways to make money without getting a second (or third) job. Last year, I wrote a post with five great tips for finding quick cash around the holidays; here are five more. It must be a sign of the times that this piece has gone viral... it was picked up by Moms Like Me, AP Sense, and ended up on Yahoo!'s front page as well.
How do you manage finances in your family?
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
A bit of background that didn't make it into the column:
My husband skipped kindergarten as a kid, and another grade somewhere along the way. He was a 15-year-old college freshman, and found that academics came easily -- it was the social aspect of being so much younger than his peers that was more difficult, especially once he hit adolescence. He's not a fan of grade-skipping, but is willing to consider it in this case: he thinks our daughter may have a harder time being bored than she would catching up with her class.
My mother also skipped a couple of grades, graduating from her convent boarding school in India at age 14, and had two full-on bachelor's degrees under her belt by the time she was 22 (yes, she skipped a couple of years of college, too). If she had to do it over again, would she? "No," she tells me. "Simply because intellectually a child can do things, and skipping a grade is OK, but socially they may not be able to." She feels that she was always "socially inept" as an adolescent, but "if it's somebody who is really mature and can handle the social disparity, then it's OK."
For the record: I didn't skip a thing. Totally average student, for the most part.
This isn't a "Mah Bayyyybeeee is Sooooo Special!" issue, though. It's a question of age cut-offs and education. At a time when many parents in Massachusetts routinely red-shirt their kids (that is, hold them back for a year so that they're older when they start school, and more likely to do better on testing), it can be hard to figure out if a child is ready for kindergarten -- or if they're ready for more.
Here's the piece:
The letters have poured in to the Globe Magazine's inbox, most of them urging that we keep our daughter in kindergarten. The comments are piling up at Boston.com, too. Readers, what do you think? Does being bored set a kid up for future failure? Or does putting them in a too-challenging environment?
May 9, 2010
Moving on up
Does our 5-year-old need kindergarten?
By Lylah M. Alphonse
Our youngest daughter’s birthday is in October, and the cutoff for kindergarten in our town is September 1, so even though her teachers thought she was ready last year, we had to wait. This spring, her pre-K teacher asked me if we were considering having our girl skip kindergarten altogether. She’s reading and writing well, plays comfortably and happily with her classmates, and is clamoring for more challenging activities. She has friends and neighbors who are a year ahead of her, so she’d know other children in the class if she did move up. And after nearly three years in a full-time preschool, would she get anything out of the half-day kindergarten our district offers?
Kindergarten attendance is not mandatory in Massachusetts, though school districts are required to provide at least a half-day (2 1/2-hour-long) program. Per Department of Education rules, children must begin school starting in the calendar year in which they turn 6. A generation ago, skipping a grade was a sign of smarts. But now, with kids already being pushed to achieve academic success earlier, does skipping a grade – even kindergarten – make sense?
“It’s a really critical year in every child’s school experience, regardless of God-given brainpower or skill level,” says Nancy Harris Frohlich, head of The Advent School in Boston. First grade is far more structured than kindergarten, with a focus on in-class work rather than creative play, and there may be homework. In kindergarten, there are more opportunities for kids to be creative and curious, Frohlich says. “Once they’re thrown into a subject-by-subject curriculum, those experiences are quickly a thing of the past.”
And then there’s standardized testing to consider. “Once teachers are put under the microscope in terms of how their children do in a standardized test, kids are even more at risk for losing the kind of kindergarten exploration time and chances to apply what they already know or are in the process of learning,” Frohlich adds.
We haven’t decided what to do yet, and the decision isn’t entirely up to us – it depends on readiness assessments and enrollment at the local elementary school. In the meantime, we’re still wondering: Is it better for a kid to be bored in kindergarten, or to risk floundering in first grade?
© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Caryl M. Stern began her career in the art world. "I started out with a degree in studio art, and assumed I would spend most of my adult life creating works of art," she says. "I have been fortunate to have actually lived out the 'creating' part -- but not the 'works of art!' " After returning to school and earning her Masters degree, she spent the next 10 years working in higher education, most recently as Dean of Students at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, N.Y. and teaching at the graduate school at Manhattanville College.
She left higher education to join the Anti-Defamation League as the inaugural director of ADL's A World of Difference Institute. She went on to become the ADL's Director of Education and then the organization’s Senior Associate National Director and Chief Operating Officer. Three and a half years ago, she joined the US Fund for UNICEF as their Chief Operating Officer, and was selected to be the President and CEO a year later.
"I was drawn to the US Fund for UNICEF because of my commitment to children, to education, and to equity," Stern says. "As the child of a woman who survived the Holocaust in Austria by being sent here to the US at the age of 6 with her 4-year-old brother, I learned early on what a difference one person can, should, must make in the life of a child. I am proud to be in a position to help make that difference for literally thousands of children."Why is work-life balance so difficult for women in the U.S.? Stern says that we still think we can have it all. "This is not true; you do have to give something up to get most of it!" she says. "The US does not always create work environments that value family first concepts."
Here's an excerpt from the interview:
The recent case of a 7-year-old boy who was returned to Russia by his American adoptive mother has had a huge impact in the international adoption community. What do you think needs to change in order to prevent situations like this?
The world needs to treat adoption as the serious matter it is, insuring that the circumstances that lead up to the availability of a child for adoption, as well as the circumstances of the potential adoptive parents, and all that strands between them, meet the standards set out by the Hague Convention. Children are not products and must not be treated as returnable objects. Approximately 2.8 percent (732,000) of all children in Russia are living without parental care. Some 156,000 are living in institutions. In most cases -- about 80 percent -- these children have at least one parent alive. The priority for these children is to provide the services and support to safely move them back into family care. The vast majority of children in institutional care are over 5 years old. UNICEF supports adoption provided that safeguards are in place to protect children, birth families, and adoptive parents. UNICEF’s focus in the Russian Federation and other countries is to support Governments to strengthen families and their capacity to look after their children. UNICEF works with governments to diversify social services, develop day care services for working parents, offer counseling for families in crisis, inclusive education for children with disabilities, family friendly health services to soon-to-become parents and services to improve parental skills.
you can read the entire Q&A here.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Since I wrote this a decade ago, I've continued to add to my sari collection, stealthily and non-stealthily, buying some on my own and inheriting others from my grandmother after she passed away. My wedding dress was actually a sari -- the same one my mom wore for her 25th wedding anniversary, in fact. I haven't been to any weddings recently, so my 5-year-old has yet to see me fold and pleat and tuck the yards of gorgeous fabric, but no doubt she will soon. And I'm looking forward to the day after the inevitable teenage rebellion has passed, when I can wrap her in one of her own.
Whose Sari Now?
By Lylah M. Alphonse
I am sifting through my heritage, looking for something to wear. I'm standing in my mother's closet, looking at a sea of saris.
The array of colors and textures dazzles me, from the rich silks my grandmother wore as a young woman in the 1930s to my mother's gaudy prints from the 1970s.
Many of my mother's saris are old and valuable, worn by women in her family for generations, so I have to pilfer carefully. While she loves my newfound appreciation for saris, I'm not supposed to take any without her permission. Besides, some of them actually still belong to my grandmother, who doesn't know my mother has them (apparently, sneaking saris runs in the family). My mother has no idea how many saris hang in her closet, but she knows when I've been looking through them. I leave no traces, but she is omnipotent and can sense a disturbance in the force.
I stare at the saris greedily. That black one would look great on me; it's embroidered with silver and a little dusty, and I take it because I know my mother prefers gold. Others -- a delicate rose-colored lace, a heavy cream-colored silk with a red and gold border -- I don't dare touch. They instantly transform me into a 5-year-old girl in awe of her mother, who, enveloped in yards of shining silk, has become a goddess. She is radiant. I am afraid I might smudge her with my grimy hands.
My mother never showed any such fear. She would turn around in front of the mirror, checking from all angles to make sure the sari was folded and pleated and tucked properly, asking me to adjust the hem with a careful tug. And I would, even though I was content to sit on the bed and dream of wearing a sari of my own. I happily wore the silk and satin outfits she picked out for me. In these clothes, I felt elegant and grown-up.
But I grew older and things changed. As a teenager, I hated the brightly colored mirrored tunics created especially for me with good intentions by relatives I'd never met. I refused to wear them, or anything else that marked me as "different." A sari was out of the question. I was different enough already: I couldn't wear beribboned barrettes in my kinky-curly hair, my eyes weren't blue, and I wasn't allowed to wear makeup. I adhered rigidly to the code of 1980s prep-school chic: Tretorn sneakers, baggy sweaters in pale pastels, turtlenecks with the necks carefully scrunched down.
Even now, the bulk of my wardrobe is made up of American clothes. I own plenty of little cocktail dresses and a couple of formal gowns. But when I realized I'd be attending five weddings this coming summer, I didn't even think about wearing them or buying another dress. This summer, I would wear saris.
In India, I wore them to parties to blend in; this summer I will wear saris to stand out. They are as formal and appropriate as any full-length gown, but mysterious and exotic in a way that a sheath dress simply is not. Saris provoke comments, admiring stares, questions -- all the things I used to want to avoid. And there's an added benefit: With a sari, I can be sure that no one will show up in the same outfit.
My mother picked out my first sari for me, an elaborate gold-embroidered affair, in 1995, years later than she had planned. She was patient and my grandmother proud as they showed me how to wear it and walk in it. Now I have a small collection of saris of my own, but none right for the weddings. So I head to my parents' place and start to browse. Carefully.
I choose five ornate saris from my mother's closet. I remember how gorgeous she looked in these saris, how I felt watching her get dressed. I drape myself in the yards of shimmering peacock blue that I hope she will lend me and survey myself in her mirror. My mother has always told me how much I look like her. Now, as I gaze at myself in her sari, I finally see what she means.
Copyright The Boston Globe, 2000.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Bookstores and the internet are overflowing with information about early intervention for kids on the autism spectrum, but there's precious little out there to guide parents who are navigating the teen years with a child who has autism. One wonderful resource is Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love, and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger's, written by Claire Scovell LaZebnik and Dr. Lynn Kern Koegel. (The duo also penned the 2005 book Overcoming Autism.)
A mother of four, the oldest of whom has autism, LaZebnik is a Newton, Massachusetts native who lives with her family in Los Angeles. In addition to the two books about autism that she's cowritten with Dr. Koegel, LaZebnik is the author of four novels, the latest of which is due out this September.
I interviewed LaZebnik for an In the Parenthood post that's live now on Boston.com (click here to read it), but of course there was so much more to the interview than what ended up in the article. Here's the full Q&A, a must-read for any parent with an autistic child of any age.
As far as the kids go, at least, the ads are obviously working: Even PBS has "spots" featuring their sponsors, and though my 5- and 3-year-olds have yet to set foot in any restaurant with a giant-rodent theme, they're clamoring to go -- without really knowing what they're clamoring to go to.
Advertising directed at children is nothing new. "What is new is how connected kids are to technology," said David C. Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a press conference last week. "Many kids are now plugged in to some kind of media for more than seven hours a day -- which means their exposure to advertising is at record levels."
Which is why the Federal Trade Commission has partnered with education giant Scholastic.com in a campaign launched last week to educate children about advertising. It's called Admongo, and it's goal is to give kids the skills they need to identify advertising and avoid manipulation. This week, I'm talking about it In the Parenthood.
Monday, May 3, 2010
I love dressing up in fancy clothing, things like saris and little black dresses, things I have absolutely no reason to wear anywhere right now. (In fact, I'm going to go through my stash of gowns and give them up for the prom.) I am most comfortable in jeans and a big button-down shirt. I like things that are tailored, but my body, after creating and nurturing two children, is neither in shape nor in the same shape it used to be. Once upon a time I used to wear adorable, short, flirty dresses when I went out with my friends; now, I wear yoga pants and knit shirts from Target while I tuck my kids into bed.
My husband was once named one of Boston's best-dressed men. My utter lack of fashion sense drives him crazy. Not in a good way.
Me: A little black dress with a tiny diamond pendant, a little black dress with a huge statement necklace, and a little black dress with no necklace and just long dangly earings is three different outfits!
Him: No, it's just the same little black dress. A little black dress with a blazer is an outfit for work, a little black dress with a shawl is an outfit for a night at the theater, and a little black dress over skinny jeans is an outfit for clubbing.
Just as I tend to want to paint all of the walls in my house white and accessorize with artwork, I tend to want to wear very basic, very neutral clothing, and accessorize with jewelry. I love jewelry. It's what's handed down from mother to daughter in my family. It always fits, no matter what kind of shape your body is in. And while trends come and go, certain pieces are timeless, and I know I don't have to follow what's in style in order to look semi stylish.
For the most part, though, I just don't get it. How can pencil skirts and full, poufy skirts be "in" at the same time? What are you supposed to do if that trendy top looks great with Bs but you've got Ds, so to speak? What's the point of a cropped trench coat? How can a pair of jeans cost more than $200?
I'm happiest wearing clothes that fit my body well, ones I don't have to replace from year to year because, frankly, my budget just can't handle that right now. And I'm sure I'm not alone.
Are you a fashionista, a frugalista, or an I-don't-care-as-long-as-the-important-bits-are-all-covered-ista?