Friday, December 24, 2010

UNCUT - In Defense of the Foreskin

The last we left my story I had gotten knocked up again, luckily by my husband. It was an accident so I like using the term “knocked up.” It kind of reminds me of backing into someone’s car and causing a dent, but way more life changing.

After humorous trips to New Orleans and Miami as the D.P.D. “Designated Pregnant Driver” Patrick and I discovered we were having a boy. Oh no! Here it is – the inevitable question that spans cultural and religious arguments between our families; he is Romanian and I am a half Jewish, half Catholic American. To circumcise, or not to circumcise, that is the question.

According to medical journals on the subject of circumcision, Patrick still has his “penile integrity” while the men of my family, you could say don’t have integrity in that area. To many of my American friends the decision to circumcise is a no brainer. Their husbands, fathers, and brothers all survived the removal of their foreskin so will their sons. However, my husband was not born American and the idea of slicing off his foreskin is torturous and arcane to him. My father, on the other hand, started to wage a campaign for circumcision by reminding me daily of the dangers of “schmutz” build-up. I like to consider my self a progressive thinker and took the duration of my pregnancy to deliberate keeping my son’s ‘integrity.’

My first response was to consider my relationship with the uncircumcised sect. I had always preferred them since I met my first foreskin when I was 20-years-old while studying abroad in London. The owner’s name was oddly enough Christopher Reeves. I never actually had sex with him, content on seeing how it worked manually. The first time I actually took one for a ride was in Pittsburgh by a tattooed, raven haired boy who had been born at home. For the first time in my inexperienced sex life, it didn’t hurt. I had found my type!

Thinking of my little baby as a man was giving me disturbing pregnant mama dreams. I had no idea how to raise a boy! I mean I barely knew how to date them and now it was up to me to mold his idea of women for life. If I let my husband do it he might end up with all his father’s flaws! I didn’t have these anxieties with my little girl Lyra. I just told Patrick she wasn’t dating until college. He rolled his eyes at me and told me I was paranoid. “No, I know myself,” I replied, “and if she is my daughter than there is trouble ahead. ”

But it was a ‘he’ now inside me kicking my ass from the inside out and the decision to nip his willie was starting to feel barbaric. Was it even my decision to begin with? It seemed a big personal decision for a man. Shouldn’t it be his decision? Will he be made fun of in the locker room if I didn’t!?

According to the U.S. Circumcision Statistics about half of the babies born in the U.S. are not being circumcised, which is about 15 percent increase from the 80s. According to our neonatal physician, the practice of circumcising became popular after the World Wars in the States. Men who were subject to the unclean and dire environments of the trenches came back with infections and other gross ailments. Consequently, they started to circumcise babies because the process was very painful for adult. Now the procedure is considered elective and some insurance carriers will not cover it.

My father likes to remind me that my grandfather had his done to marry my Jewish grandmother. Poor man was disowned from his family for it, or maybe it was the Jewish bit. OMG! Why was I listening to my family? I never had before, but having kids makes you realize you need help and, in my case, a reminder of what not to do. My little unborn baby’s peter was becoming a hot topic at the dinner table.

My mother is under the belief that men get circumcised so they don’t give women yeast infections. During my check-ups I took the subject up with my OBGYN, who happens to also be Romanian. We usually spent most of my visits gossiping about our Romanian husbands and trying to cure my sore butt. She told me that her patients get yeast infections from partners that were circumcised and it wasn’t a cure for contracting STDs.

The biggest fear I had of becoming the proud mother of an uncut boy was that I would be the mom that constantly had to remind their son to wash his penis. I could see myself yelling at my poor embarrassed son, “Did you wash your peter? I don’t care what your daddy says you go back in there and wash your peter.” Horror.

But what if he wanted to be Jewish? It turns out it is one of God’s commandments to be circumcised. That was like 5000 years ago, I argued. Can’t there be a new interpretation that would let my son remain intact and accepted? Not sure I am the person to start the revolution within the Jewish community, but I vowed if my son wanted to study Torah I would go to battle. Until then, Merry Christmas.

By the time I was eight months pregnant I was insane with having to make a decision. I had also gained 55-60 lbs by eating cupcakes everyday and was ready to start dieting, so I thought. I was ready to be unpregnant by the end of May, but wasn’t ready to make the decision about the future sex life and hygiene of my son. That was when my husband finally spoke up.

“I thought you were going to make the ‘right’ decision on you own, but you are thinking about this way too much,” he said. “We are not circumcising.” Whew! Someone made a decision. To further cement his case Patrick cited studies that stated the procedure could be psychologically traumatic and destroy nerve endings.

When we told our doctors they congratulated us for making the decision. When we told my family they were less pleased and acted astonished that Europeans like my husband are not. Actually, my son will join 80 percent of the world’s males in that area.

The only thing left to do was give birth. I had been having contractions every time I farted, or rather the baby farted. I had even gone into the hospital to be sent home when I only dilated 3.5cm. On the way home, Patrick and I stopped at an old favorite of mine – the bar. In the 70s they use to administer alcohol to women in labor to help them with contractions. Not to fear, I only had one glass of wine.

After a week of bouncing up and down, having sex, taking walks, and trudging my daughter around the zoo in the heat I decided to get induced on May 30th. My deliveries go pretty fast once they get started. This time around everything went smoothly, unlike the emergency entrance of my daughter. My husband, who is an anesthesiologist, even let my daughter gently pull out my epidural line.

“Ha! Even a two-year-old could do your job,” my dad chided from the back of the room.

We named him Lucian Orion Filip. His middle name was from me. Orion use to be the only man I could depend on, always in the sky above me. Now here he was in my arms. I am not sure how good a female role model I will be, but for now he is my little lover, always connected to my boobs.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Accidental Mom - Part 3

Mamas Gone Wild
 - First Appeared in the Oct/Nov Issue of Maniac Magazine

There are two kinds of accidental moms. The first is the girl that gets pregnant and changes their reckless ways for good, like changing their stripper profession for teaching math. The second are those that secretly wanted to have kids but are not very good life planners. These are at least the kind of friends I have anyway.  I probably fall into both categories, except I was a nightlife reporter, not a stripper.

After my daughter Lyra burst out of me like a little cone-headed alien escaping her captor I sat on the couch in shock for about a year. In the beginning, she was a tiny thing that was prone to bashing her head against my big boobies in tears. Patrick and I were determined to be all natural and only allow her breast milk; therefore I had to get a breast pump to quill Lyra’s impatient cries.

And because I have all the tact and grace of a circus clown I attracted a lot of attention trying to breast feed in public. In the previous year, I wouldn’t have flinched to expose my girls to admirers, but choking a baby in public with my raspberry-sized nipples was not the least bit sexy. So I stayed at home in my topless garb to keep from embarrassing my infant daughter.

When at six months-old she thought it was hilarious to try to bite my berries off I ended the abuse of my boobies. She responded by mercilessly vomiting on me at the most in opportune moments when we switched to formula. Motherhood is freaking messy.

My delighted audience was my crew of childhood friends who I had watched get pregnant in their early twenties. Missy, Suzanne, and I went to an all-girl Catholic high school in Kentucky so naturally we had a crazy edge. They signed me up for Facebook after I gave birth to Lyra. I had always been too busy for social websites, but sitting at home watching CSI reruns was making me paranoid to walk down the street.

I soon discovered that I didn’t need parenting guidebooks, I just needed Facebook! All of my 200 high school classmates were all there waiting to give me parenting advice since 80 percent of them were seasoned moms. They sent me messages like “Gee, that blows my mind that you are a mom!” Very encouraging.

Missy’s life story was straight out of a hundred different country songs. She was gorgeous, wild and stormy. If you pissed her off she would sod your yard with her daddy’s pick-up truck. She had become a mom right after high school to her boyfriend Billy. Three kids later she had earned a nursing career and still wears a size 3. However, after eighteen years of the same man she was going through married-life crisis.

Suzanne was the girl who introduced me to Edie Brickell and Cat Stevens in art class. She would get in trouble for wearing Birkenstocks to school and on the weekends we would take turns making out with boys in her parents’ Winnebago in the backyard. She got pregnant and married not long after high school as well. When her daughter was thirteen, she was on the verge of a much needed divorce. However, instead of going crazy all over again she went all Jesus and started dating a minister from her mother’s missionary work. Suzanne and her holy man decided to abstain from vaginal intercourse. Little drastic I thought! I started calling him President Clinton.

Back at my ranch, Patrick and I were teetering through parenthood barely able to contain the explosions from either end of our small daughter. When Lyra was eleven months old we took her on a road trip through Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Romania. Sounds luxurious when you consider we were picking up our BMW at the factory to take it for its first road trip. Let’s just say Lyra baptized it every time we started the engine. She has a severe case of motion sickness – good times let me tell you. While in Romania a doctor told me she might have an eating disorder. What already!

It was in September after the crazy European vacation that a Kentucky storm took over my life again in the form of a bourbon bottle that I smuggled into a Russian opera my dad had suckered my sister and me to attend. I came home to a sleeping Romanian and insisted he ravish me. He insisted that it wasn’t a good time of the month for me.

“Nonsense, you know nothing about my body!” I slurred at him. A few hours later I sobered up and counted the days from my last period in my slumber. Oh drat, not again.

A couple of weeks later we were in Kentucky for my high school reunion. Missy was split from Billy and had convinced herself that she couldn’t be alone, or rather just needed a man in her life. The man she chose was Billy’s childhood friend Billy. Sound bizarre, well, it’s just Kentucky. Suzanne was sexting her minister while I was entertaining my mother-in-law from Romania that came along for the ride.

At the reunion we all received name tags with our senior pictures on it. Mine read Sarah Lolley Flip (my husband’s last name is actually Filip pronounced Phillip). Truthfully, I was relieved to be married at all. I felt like I was finally normal just to be married with a kid. Meanwhile, Missy was working on severe abandonment of the past eighteen years as her new ‘Billy’ waited in the car outside the event. She disappeared after an hour.

Suzanne and I made our rounds comparing everyone’s new names and faces when at midnight we got a call from Missy that she was holed up with the new Billy at a bar when the old Billy tracked her down. Drama! Suzanne forbade me to go get her and Patrick was convinced I didn’t need another drink because I was pregnant. “No I am not!”

At 3 a.m. I got knock on my hotel door. Missy was doing cartwheels in the hallway. She got a room at the hotel and proceeded to sing “Like a Virgin” at the top of her lungs. She had picked up where she left off literally. We spent the night amusing ourselves with scenarios of what she might have done if she hadn’t become a mom so soon. None of them were realistic because she could only be this crazy blonde bombshell who raised three well behaved kids. We went to bed with her swearing she had never slept with the new Billy. It seems sexting is taking the place of condoms, a better birth control.

Patrick and I haven’t caught onto the practice because upon my return to Pittsburgh I discovered I was indeed pregnant, again. Oh snap!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Accidental Mom - Part 2

 A Shotgun Wedding and a Dramatic Entrance
By Sarah Lolley       

The sequel to the first installment of the Accidental Mom starts off with hormonal changes and ends with a dramatic entrance also riddled with hormones. As a fellow friend of mine said to me after hearing I was pregnant, I was about to lose control of my body and she was happy to be watching. Silly me, I thought that had already happened on numerous occasions by the will of Jack Daniels.

It was January of 2008 when Patrick and I returned from meeting his parents in Romania after having bumbled our engagement by losing the ring as he proposed on a provincial mountain overlooking Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle). The ring was found days later by a friend Patrick contracted to find it. It was nothing short of a miracle. My life was starting to resemble a chick flick, however, I don’t believe in happy endings so everyday was more like a horror movie you wanted to keep your eyes closed for fear of what happens next.

The ring on my finger now symbolized the excitement and anxiety growing inside my guts quite literally. I always felt that I had no idea what a successful relationship felt like since my parents were unsuccessful. Through all my daydreams of the perfect wedding that my heart conjured up, my head always told me that that image was balderdash. Now I was pregnant and engaged to a fate that was so oblivious to me as to be beyond any preconceived notion I might have ever held about my future. This was indeed up there with impulsive and crazy, and yet it was completely normal.

Who ever said that morning sickness only lasts for the first trimester is full of bologna because my mornings lasted for eight months. During this time, every mother I met liked to tell me that they felt free to eat whatever they pleased. Ha! It was my fate that I became lactose intolerant to the point of wanting to barf if there was the slightest bit of butter in a pastry. I was also exhausted and prone to body rashes; therefore, I didn’t have the pregnant glow either, unless you count my bright red, hive riddled face. It was as if I was a slug and a bratty kid poured salt on me, and I began to disintegrate and get fat.

Furthermore, when I discovered I was having a girl the previously mentioned friend told me that being pregnant with a baby girl will suck the beauty of you. At this point, I wondered when the warm, fuzzy mommy feelings were going to start because most of the time I was about as cuddly as a shaved gorilla.

It was in my fifth month when the anxieties of getting married hit me like a psychotic episode. My due date of July 21st was looming over me like Armageddon. I had no idea what the world would be like after the birth of my daughter. The prospect of having a new body and quite possibly a new vagina also weighed heavy in my discussions with Patrick. He began to whimper that he liked it the way it was and maybe I should have a C-section, ya know, to make sure there were no complications.  

As we lay in bed chatting about such ridiculous notions as the size of my post baby body, I was coming to realize that there would always be someone between us. These were the last months we would ever be alone. Even when our daughter grew up, a part of our thoughts would always be with her. Parenthood was beginning to happen to me, happen to us. Oh Lord, we needed to buy a house. I wasn’t going to live in an apartment with a shower the size of a telephone booth. I was even unsure I could wedge my full term belly in there.

There are more exciting bits to this story than the details of our house hunting so I will be brief. The idea of moving out to the suburbs had the same affect on me that a new school would on a young child with glasses, braces, and zits. Patrick and I prided ourselves on our urban sophistication and we both agreed to hold onto our previous single lives a little bit longer by looking for a house in the city. After debating many cool ambitious renovation projects we decided on a new “green” constructed townhouse development in the South Side that promised to have our house finished in our short timeframe. We were so cute and gullible.

The responsibility of mortgage payments conjured the foreboding responsibilities of a financial commitment that stretched the lifetime of my daughter. I might mention that I was deeply hormonal and nearly every week we spouted more tears of joy or rage. My state of mind was so delicate that I was half afraid I might do something stupid like leave him because he was friends with his ex-wife on Facebook. I needed to get married in a bad way. I needed something to make me feel safe and calm the storms that were fixed in my head.

My dad, a retired heart surgeon from Louisiana, had been hanging about a lot lately. He conveniently had decided to retire at the same time I found out I was pregnant. Let preface by telling you that my father is a self proclaimed Confederate Jew that resembles a walrus with long ends of his moustache dropping down over his jowls and matching long bushy eyebrows that seem to obscure his eye sight. He started coming over solely for the purpose of expressing his desire that I become an honest woman and get married in a small plantation town outside of New Orleans called St. Francisville. He charmed us by telling us stories about how he was a prison doctor in nearby Angola Prison. It was a perfectly crazy idea.

I had thought that planning a wedding in three weeks would be as easy as a Vegas style wedding, but Louisiana style with a voodoo minister instead of Elvis (chapels in New Orleans actually offer this service). Instead the small backwoods town was full of large antebellum homes that were accustomed to big Southern weddings. I finally found one that wasn’t booked and was oddly called Desert Plantation despite being located in a lush weeping willow terrain. The owner Wilhelmina was raised on the thousand acre plantation and agreed to rent out the entire place for the wedding. The catch was I had to arrange the catering, minister, and photographer. This wasn’t going to be as easy as the voodoo wedding chapel on Bourbon Street.

The news of a Yank coming down to have a shotgun wedding became part of the town gossip after many days of begging many proprietors in frustrated tears to provide services on such short notice. The Reverend Jesse Means decided to come out of retirement to save the day and give me a proper wedding. He was a man that resembled Colonel Sanders and held many hats in the town, which came in handy when I discovered I didn’t have a valid proof of my birth in Texas. Patrick was a naturalized citizen with a translated divorce document; however, it was me, the born and bred American that had documentation problems.

“Those noodle heads in Texas, don’t worry your pretty head.” Rev. Means said to me. “We’ll get ya married, proper. Your daddy is from Louisiana and that counts for something. Just come down to the court house with your daddy and meet the judge.”

As if I needed something else to cry about, every gown I found looked like a Halloween costume. One of my very close friends was a wedding dress designer, Stephanie Keremes, who at the time was hibernating from social calls in her busy wedding season. She was use to high profile brides that spent thousands of dollars on a gown and often flew her around the country to do alterations or dressings the day of the wedding. I was just a little person in her world of crystals and delicate embroidery, until I started crying my eyes out in phone message after phone message.

“All right I will do it!” Stephanie said giving into my girlish moaning. “You know I will be there for you and fashion is one thing I can do. No diapers or babysitting, but if you have a wardrobe problem you can count on me.”

To have a couture dress made for my emergency wedding was like having a security blanket to take with me on the biggest ceremony of your life. It was a soft silver silk with the slightest touch of blue. She wove in crystals in the fine twisting of the empire-waist bodice. I wouldn’t have a rockin’ band or tons of my closest friends at my wedding, but I could have the dress.

On a bright misty April day amongst weepy Spanish moss, I walked down the steps of a large white antebellum house with only two guests to witness our wedding tears. My dad and Patrick’s sister Olivia were the wedding party and our witnesses. I had written my vows the night before.

“I spent a lot of time regretting heartache, but on this day I wouldn’t change a thing,” I looked into his eyes and said. “Because all of my mistakes led me to you, the best and most blessed mistake of them all.”

After that day I finally got my pregnancy glow. I was falling in love with the father of my baby even though he ran around with holes in his underwear and wanted to home school our kids to avoid any negative American indoctrination of our child. 

You might think that my story would turn less dramatic, but there are no breaks for the wicked. Since a couple of the brides that I played bridesmaid to didn’t get the chance to give me a bachelorette party they gave me a baby shower. Sarah, also a fellow accidental mom, hosted an open bar, co-ed party for me on the deck of the Firehouse Lounge on a sweaty June afternoon. What was even better was that many of my old flames, happy to see me happy, came to toast my little traveler in my belly. Since Patrick and I had just signed our closing papers for the house so we had a lot to celebrate. It was the end of June and we thought we had a month to get the nursery ready.

That evening, a few hours after the guests left, I finally laid down in the warmth of my life that seemed to be coming together when a tidal wave gushed from between my legs. “Oh snap!”

Patrick was at the new house painting and didn’t answer his cell phone so I called my dad who immediately came over. When Patrick finally answered I yelled at him, “What have I told you about keeping your phone close! My baby could drown! My water broke!” I was already sounding like a wife.

My dad arrived not long after Patrick.
“Where is your overnight bag? Let’s go,” said my dad.
“What overnight bag? I got a box,” I replied looking around at boxes. The movers were scheduled to come the next day.

We drove to the hospital in a hot thunderous storm. I was leaking so much water I was worried about the baby. I had never done this before and we hadn’t even completed our child care classes!

When we got there the nurses told us we had to first go to triage and they didn’t have any delivery beds open. At this point I was not an ideal patient. When a nurse told me they needed to examine me to make sure I really broke my water I replied with showing her the puddle I was sitting in. Although Patrick is an anesthesiologist he became worried as I started to shiver with pain and I still didn’t have an epidural. After discovering my monitor was hooked up wrong and my contractions were threw the roof I was six centimeters dilated and still no delivery room. My father and Patrick began freaking out at the nurses like two doctors.

The next thing I remember is being wheeled in the delivery room with my legs spread to God staring up at big bright lights that resembled an alien invasion. Then a nurse burst into the room and demanded that the delivering doctor quickly come to another room.

“Breath through the next contractions and I will be right back,” said the doctor to me.
“What, how do I do that?!” I cried out.
“Don’t do anything I will be right back,” Patrick said to me. “I need to get a different lens for my camera.”
“Don’t you leave me!” I screamed to no avail.

I laid there looking at the lights feeling the unforgivable urge to push. The only one in the room was the nurse holding my legs apart when the baby started pushing herself out. The nurse started freaking out and calling for a doctor. Guess who came out from behind the curtains - my dad.

“Glove me up,” he declared like a superhero. “I delivered 500 babies at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.”

If I could have fainted I would have. Thankfully, a team of doctors and nurses ran through the door and relieved my father of his heroism. In two pushes a little screaming human popped out of my vagina.

After the circus left our room and I could close my legs again, Patrick and I huddled around our daughter, who was just five and half pounds. We hadn’t agreed on much so far, but we had quite easily agreed on a name for our daughter – Lyra. The name is taken from the stars and has musical meaning in Romanian.

It was exactly a year to the day that we met. On that stormy night Patrick and I held each other in that little hospital bed exhausted from a year of magical and dramatic beginnings. Little did we know that the real challenges of our accidental parenthood was about to begin- and it would clutter baby puke and diapers across America and Europe.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Accidental Mom: Part One

Shortened Version appears in the June/July 2010 issue of Maniac Magazine

It was the summer of 2007 and I was participating in Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest Singles fundraising campaign for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  I was working for a real estate development company based in the South Side as a property manager for high-end units while I continued to freelance for the Post-Gazette as a music journalist. As a side project I was also working on a column about adventures in dating. In my short bio for the fundraising campaign Whirl Magazine deemed me the “Carrie Bradshaw of Pittsburgh.”

Thanks to my dedication to my job I took a Sunday appointment to show an apartment to a visiting doctor transferring from Seattle. He had an accent that I couldn’t place and I happen to have a soft spot for imports. When I walked out of the apartment door to look for Dr. Patrick Filip I was greeted by man wearing a Newsboy Cap looking up at me. “Wow,” I heard him say and then I turned to smile to myself.

He took the apartment and we started a long distance email relationship. He was from Romania and I had an even softer spot for Eastern European men after having lived in the Czech Republic.

Then I did something crazy; I flew out to meet him in Seattle for a real date. I had a cousin out there so I had a back-up plan if I needed to escape his clutches. As it turned out I didn’t need one.  I liked his clutches.

When he finally arrived in Pittsburgh it was the day of the awards ceremony for 50 Finest. He found a seat at the front of the stage in the Omni William Penn ball room with my dad, also a doctor. It was a great night, so great I got plastered and told him all my deepest darkest secrets. In the morning I was afraid to open my eyes for fear he was gone. He was still there and he laughed at me when I confessed my fears.

In my illustrious dating career that spanned countries and religious beliefs I had always been a curiosity to men, not a treasure. When I turned 31 years old that year I decided that I would only date men that I would seriously consider as a life partner and not just an adventure. Patrick was in a similar state of mind and we agreed to assess our progress at our six-month anniversary.

At the four month marker of our relationship, we dressed up for the Halloween Masquerade Ball at the Armory and ended the night making intimate mistakes. The next day we decided it might be a good idea to take the morning-after pill. Then I forgot on Monday and remembered on Tuesday, but left work to late to pick it up at the pharmacy. Technically, I had 72 hours to take it so I still felt confident that I was in the black. Wednesday was actually Halloween and I showed Patrick how to carve his first pumpkin. I took the pill before bed.

I guess you already know it didn’t work. A couple of weeks past and nothing happened except my boobs got really firm and tender. Patrick, the doctor, was confident the pill worked. I wasn’t.

We waited another week and then he brought home a hospital pregnancy exam. We had a couple glasses of wine and then huddled in his bathroom to take the test. It immediately turned positive and my heart jumped in my chest as I screamed “Oh my God!?”

Still staring at the test he screamed, “Wait, wait, wait. It could change!”
“Not for nine months it won’t,” I muttered.
“How did this happen?” He replied and I looked at him in disbelief that he had actually said that.
“Are you sure you are a doctor?” I uttered while my mind started to recover from the flash of lighting that had just struck it.

The next day I went to work with my eyeballs feeling like they were going to pop out of my head because I had been staring at the ceiling all night. I was old enough not to have made this decision and, I also figured, I was mature enough to be responsible for it. When I met Patrick that evening I told him there was no way I was terminating the pregnancy.

Patrick had done his own freaking out that day and called his friend who works in pediatrics to ask him if it was even safe that I had gotten pregnant while I was drunk. Of course, his friend said that if I didn’t carry on getting drunk the fetus would be fine. I had to giggle at this. I mean everyone I knew who had become accidental parents had created them while intoxicated.

After a lot of tears he looked at me and he said, “Okay, let’s have a baby,” and we high-fived each other. No kidding.

I was about to do the wildest thing I had ever done; become a mom. The feeling was soaking in when Patrick looked at me and said, “Well, do you wanna? You know, get married?”

“Oh, no! You just didn’t say that! Take it back! That is not a proposal!” I exclaimed and I meant it. All my life I had daydreamed about how a man might propose to me and this was not what I had in mind. Although to tell the truth, nothing in my life had gone according to plan I was certain I was worth a little more.

I told my dad at Thanksgiving and then my mom, down in Kentucky, for Christmas. My dad proceeded to tell everyone I was getting married even though he knew that was not the case. It was his unsubtle way of hinting at his wishes. However, my mother didn’t do any better. Her first reaction was to lean across the dinner table and whisper “Are you sure he is the father?” I was speechless.  I assured her that there was no doubt and that we were leaving for Romania to tell his parents in a few days on New Years.

I was ten weeks pregnant and I was not only nauseated in the morning, but the entire day. To get to his town in Western Romania we had to fly to Prague, then fly to Budapest, then take a three hour carpool across the Hungarian border to Arad. I left a trail of vomit where ever we went. Throughout the trip I held onto the idea that if my life was a movie that this might be funny.

It was New Year’s Eve so Patrick had planned for us to meet up with his friends as soon as we got in. His parents’ house was surrounded by a high brick wall. Inside were rows of fruit trees and a path that lead to the front door. It was dark and spooky. I clung to an illegible piece of paper that had the Romanian translation of ‘Nice to meet you’ scribbled on it. I couldn’t get my tongue to pronounce any of it, regardless the two elderly white haired figures smiled at me.

No sooner had we arrived then we left in the taxi of a family friend, Attila. This man would eventually spread the word around town that Patrick had come home with a funny American woman who resembled Madonna. To explain: Romanians love cheesy pop music set to the cheesiest form of House Beats I had ever heard. The songs on the radio were most always in English so while Patrick sat in front conversing with Attila I would bounce around in the back pretending I was Brittany Spears.

Anyway, that evening we were headed to a big contemporary home with heated tiles and dynamic modern architecture. The house was warm and full of guests curious about the new arrival. Amongst the children running in and out of the kitchen with goodies there was a large Russian woman who kept doling out endless dishes of food. She took a break only to grab one of the younger guests to translate a conversation with me.

In front of many listening guests she laid her eyes on me suspiciously and gave the translator her questions. The appointed translator looked at me and said, “She wants to know why a Romanian man? Is there something wrong with American man?”

In my mind I was laughing, but instead I smiled and simply said, “Of course, there is.”
Both women spent the night telling me all the things that were wrong with Romanian men and to tell the truth it translated into every American man I knew. By the time midnight came around, the consensus was that women everywhere were doomed.

The next day Patrick’s sister Olivia begged him to tell his parents that I was pregnant. When he did I couldn’t understand a single word, but I saw the look on his parents’ faces. His mother gasped and his father smiled with glee. As Patrick and his mother continued a conversation of concern, his dad poured me a drink of his best cherry brandy and kissed me on the forehead. That was exactly what I needed and I was enjoying the glass until his mom swiped it from me.

After a week of listening to conversations that were oblivious to me I begged Patrick to take me out and see Romania, like Dracula’s castle! So we boarded a Communist Era train with a sack of food from his mom to Brasov. We stayed in a simple pension with a bed that was a little more than foam on a board.

The next day we awoke to sunshine on the snow. Patrick was full of happiness and energy, while I was in the mood to cut his balls off. We rented a car to drive to Bran Castle that took us up many icy, windy roads. At the top of a mountain that overlooked the castle he stopped the car. He got out in a snow covered sheep field and beckoned me to follow. I dragged my feet out into that icy field cursing Romanian beds.

I was in a daze staring out at the sheep, still wishing I was watching the movie of my life instead experiencing it, when he said something that pushed my final button.

“You Americans don’t know anything about bedding.”
“That’s it I am going back to the car.”
“But wait if you go I can’t give you this!” He grabbed my arm and flung a small open box around into my face. The box was empty.
“Oh, no!” he screamed and immediately started to search the snow. “I can’t afford another ring!”

My mind froze and all I could think was ‘That was it!! The moment I had been dreaming about was lost in a sheep field!’ I got down on my knees and scoured the snow praying to Saint Tony, God, the devil, and my deceased grandma. After an hour, I admitted defeat and got to my feet to say the words I knew I must.

“I don’t need a diamond when I have you.” We kissed and he insisted on taking my photo next to a statue of the crucifix that was randomly situated in the field. Ugh, I never want to see that photo I thought.

We spent the rest of the day at Bran Castle peering out at the mountain that swallowed my ring. I spent the remaining time in Romania transfixed on the ring that Dracula’s sheep were probably going to eat.

Our Romanian trip was over; a day later we took the taxi back to Budapest and took a plane back to Prague for a couple of days. I was so happy to be back in some place familiar that I made an appointment at a spa. Afterwards, Patrick and I met up at the clock in Old Town Square. At a restaurant somewhere down a romantic alley he got down on his knees with a garnet butterfly ring.

“Well, ya gonna?”
“No, no, no that’s not the way you do it!” I said with tears in my eyes. “You have to say ‘Will you marry me?!’”
“Yes,” he replied.
I admitted defeat and said, “Okay, me too.”

Ending Note:
Patrick’s forest ranger buddy Ronny took the photo of me in the sheep field next to Jesus and searched for the ring for three days. As he was about to give up he found it and sent it back to the States with a Kentucky priest. When we finally received it I made Patrick propose to me yet again.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wear a little Sex and the City

Sex and the City Charms 
published it the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Wednesday, May 19, 2010
In time for the release of two summer movies, Dogeared Jewelry & Gifts is releasing lines of jewelry inspired by the original media.

This month, the iconic TV series "Sex in the City" gets a necklace charm line. Later in the summer, the book "Eat, Pray, Love" is in negotiations for a keepsake line about the same time the movie is released.

Dogeared is known for creating sentimental totems and keepsake gifts as well as charms associated with charities like Make a Wish. The step up to the silver screen wasn't planned.

"We didn't really set out to do this," said sales director Elizabeth Dinette. "HBO reached out to us. Licensing wasn't in our business plan."
However, a "Sex and the City" jewelry line made perfect sense; the popularity of the series and first movie came from an intimate, yet lighthearted, connection among women.

"Our strength has always been themed concepts, words of inspiration and reflection that relate to our consumers," says Ms. Dinette. "We take the themes from the series that many women identify with and give them a part of that theme."

Dogeared is known for the simplicity of the designs and messages that accompany each item. Quotes were pulled from the show to represent each of the main characters of the series -- Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Each quote card receives a different charm emblematic of the message.

Attached to charms representing the Eiffel Tower, a martini glass, a diamond and a stiletto heel are quotations such as: "I've been dating since I was 15. I'm exhausted! Where is he?" and "Shopping is my cardio."

"The 'Single and Fabulous' card means you got to have confidence. The jewelry is a reminder," says Ms. Dinette. "The line is about life's journey from a female point of view and the different phases we experience. Every woman can see a part of themselves in this series."

The charms will be released first with HBO and Bloomingdales; later, they will be available wherever you find Dogeared charms. Prices range from $54 to $150.

Dogeared is still in negotiations on items from the book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. The movie with Julia Roberts is set for release in August.
First published on May 19, 2010 at 12:00 am

Monday, May 3, 2010

Adventures of an Urban Mom in the Woods

If you are like me, you may cringe at the idea of letting your child dig in dirt or romp through poison ivy. You may have screamed, as I did on a recent Saturday morning, at spotting spiders in the toilet at Boyce-Mayview Park while the other parents waited to use the compost restroom.

If, like me, you're exceptionally squeamish when it comes to the natural world, Venture Outdoors' Tyke Hikes provide a low-maintenance way to get your child involved with nature.

The program's main goal is to introduce children -- including infants -- to nature while utilizing the city's parks and nearby outdoor recreational venues. The nature walks are so popular during the moderate weather that it is normal to have 40-50 people attend a hike.

Organizer Lindsey Rethage inherited the program in 2004 and has rejuvenated it by working to organize neighborhood chapters. Rethage makes it easy for parents by making the trails low impact and full of pit stops where participants look at vegetation and animals -- including insects -- that reside in the parks.

"As long as you introduce your kids to the outdoors, they are happy," says Rethage. Her oldest daughter Avery was 3 weeks old when she started leading hikes. Madison, her second child, was a fussier baby, but being outdoors calmed her down.

Rethage finds a lot of children are really fascinated by nature when they get around other children. Her two girls are often the ring leaders, she said, and naturally connect with the other kids.

Rethage says 60 percent of Tyke Hikers are parents trying out the program for the first time. Many, like Laureen Colusci of Ross, recognize that their children spend more time indoors than they did as children.

"I want him to learn about nature and see things," said Colusci, of her 4-year-old son Liam.

It was an exceptionally cold day at Boyce-Mayview Park, but three families showed for the Saturday hike. Kate Snyder of Mount Lebanon, 18 weeks pregnant, came out with her 18 month-old child, Eliah.

"I tend to like the idea of outdoor activity," said Snyder.

Parents like Julie Azzam of Dormont, who aren't exactly outdoors types, find their children provide incentive to search for more activities in nature.

The University of Maryland reported that the average American child spends 50 percent more time indoors than 20 years ago. The study found kids are spending 55 hours a week with electronic media. The American Journal of Public Health attributed outdoor play to a reduction in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children as young as 5 years old.

Rethage's interest in nature was inspired by her kids' need to get outdoors, as well as her own childhood in Canada. Her father was an outdoors educator. She found the inspiration again when she left the corporate world to become a mother.

One of the intimidating factors of nature, Rethage said, is that parents worry about their children's safety and health risks. During a recent camping trip she discovered one of her daughters has asthma. But that hasn't stopped her from engaging her daughter with nature.

"It really is like we are a community when we are on a hike," she says. "The stories from kids are great. They can remember the littlest things they discovered in nature."

During a recent Tuesday stroll, a group of six families was introduced to Ebony Scott of East Liberty, who is being trained to guide some of the programs. Her reason for getting involved in Tyke Hikes is also personal.

"I love to be able to teach my kids outdoor activities," she says. "I am also trying to get African Americans out on trips in the parks. There is a lot of obesity in our communities. I don't want my own children to become unhealthy."

Her daughter Heaven is 5, and her 6-month-old son Earth was strapped to her as she helped Rethage dole out complimentary snack for the kids.

Some hikers are grandparents. Nellie Curran of Shaler has been taking her grand kids out on Tyke Hikes for three years.

"I would be bored to death if I had to keep them at home," she said. Now her grandchildren, 1-year-old Seamus and 4-year-old Peter, have found regular playmates in some of the children.

I examined the mud on my daughter's pants and sighed, but I had to agree with everyone. Despite the dirt, she was much happier.

Adventures in Swimwear

When my editor at the Post-Gazette asked me to write an article about swimwear, he asked me to focus on “regular women.” I quickly responded that they didn’t exist, and that is what is wrong with swimwear; women are not regular. Either small on top, or big on bottom, or just plain soft all over, women were made with glorious differences in size and contour. So where are all the options in swimwear?

This year thanks to the social networking of the internet, a lot of designers have answered the needs of women everywhere with more creative and better built swimwear. However, there are designs that were made for only the young or svelte body types. For instance, the boy short has made way for the “hipster” bottom that barely covers the inappropriate bits that may show when you sit down.

Lesson number one: when trying on a bathing suit bend over, sit down, dance around, and lift your arms to test how the suit moves with you. Posing in the mirror and sucking in your gut does not count.

The bandeau top became en vogue in the last few years, but was not really appropriate for fuller women. However, designers have managed to build a support top with adjustable straps and reinforcing materials giving the look a more practical application.

The same goes for one-piece suits that are built with new tummy slimming materials. Vix, Gottex, Miraclesuit, and La Blanca are on the racks at your typical places to go swimwear hunting like Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Saks. They have built-in a tremendous amount of ruching and strategic ruffling into there suits. Contrary to this trend, I suspect that after I give birth to the baby in my belly next month I won’t want to wear a tutu or anything that accentuates a rippling affect.

The alternative trends to ruffles and ridges are the asymmetrical shoulder and cut-outs. Last year I tried a few on with laughable results. I was curious if the Fergie inspired hip-waist exposure, sometimes call the monokini, might be my bathing suit savior. I was profoundly mistaken. However, this year the term “cut-out” applies to many different styles that are less dramatic. The cuts are smaller around the hips, for instance the Stella McCartney version. Others appear as deep V-cuts that are made to elongate your trunk and give

a little styling to tummy tucking one-pieces like the ones found by Trina Turk. The one-shoulder look has the ability lift a one-piece bandeau suit into a better fitting statement.

A lot of designers are going the route of tactical colors and shapes. Clashing patterns and creating a busy bosom of color is completely acceptable this year. The look can be fun and, hey, it was popular in the Sports Illustrated Swimwear Issue this year. If you can’t quite get your mind around a string bikini from Maaji or Beach B

unny, which were featured in the sports magazine, than there are more un-revealing styles available in the tankini, and halter versions found at Kohl’s and Target.

Drenching yourself in a ridiculous upbeat pattern lends itself to having a sense of humor about the whole idea of baring your skin and no one does this quite as loud as Lilly Pultizer. This year Lilly Pulitzer, available at Palm Place in Shady

Side, is offering separates for the first time in her career. According to Fashion Director Jane Shoenborn, the change was in direct response to the feedback they received from social networking groups like Facebook and Twitter. Now you can buy tops and bottoms in different sizes and styles.

“What we love is that just like the rest of the brand, we are print driven. We have a resorty atmosphere so we don’t spend a lot of time tricking up the suit. We let the prints speak,” says Shoenborn. This year the collection was inspired by endangered animals and nature. The swimwear line is full of crazy corals and shells in hot pink, vivid green and electric blue.

I am not sure any of the new fashions will turn anyone into a “regular” woman, but they will be more comfortable and maybe even a little fun to wear.

Published version of this story available at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Swimwear for Real Women

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shopping Sample Sales - Recessionista Style

First Published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

March 28, 2010

NEW YORK -- You don't have to be a die-hard fashion fanatic to access the crazed sample sale events that appeared in episodes of "Sex and the City" and the movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic." New York City is packed with destinations and boutiques dedicated to the bargain-hunting recessionista.

On a recent trip here, I scoured the Web pages of TimeOut and New York magazines looking for updates on key sales. My taste runs more to the peasant couture of British designer Orla Kiely, known for her pear and stem designs, than Louis Vuitton or Versace. But if that's your love, Boutique on 57 sells discounted merchandise for the fashion elite. The discounts are even deeper at venues such as the Chelsea Market on Ninth Avenue that often have more eclectic and exclusive designers.


New York sample sale destinations

Chelsea Market

75 Ninth Ave., between 15th and 16th streets


Showroom Seven

263 11th Ave., between 27th and 28th streets


Outlet 7

117/119 E. Seventh St., between First Avenue and Avenue A


Samples for Ecompassion

2 Great Jones St., between Broadway and Lafayette


237 Lafayette St., between Prince and Spring streets


Boutique on 57

12 W. 57th St., between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas


Sample sale websites

(Membership required, but no one denied)

In the past decade, the Meat Packing District became known as a hideaway for exclusive sales and clothing lines. However, all that has changed with the advent of huge clubs, restaurants and stores such as Jeffery New York that have eaten up the open warehouse space. In the stores and stalls of Chelsea, unmarked doors often lead to a world of sample sales or indie art galleries.

Similarly, storefronts in neighborhoods south of the district such as Samples for Ecompassion, Outlet 7 and Inven.tory have sprouted from the success of limited- and exclusive-run sales events.

On a mission to score a colorful Orla Kiely handbag, which can typically cost $600 for a large leather tote, I took a taxi to the "secret" location published in New York Magazine's Sample Sale Updates.

There were no signs or markers for Showroom Seven, and all the address numbers were really dusty and dirty. The taxi driver wondered if I knew where I was going (I didn't). As I stood on the sidewalk looking at the warehouse searching for signs of life, the driver reversed to tell me I needed to walk down the street a little farther for the correct door.

The moment I opened that filthy industrial door, the color and fabric of designer showrooms changed my dismal impression. A little sign directed me to the elevator that led to the third-floor stalls of Showroom Seven's glorious sale. Racks with humble little paper signs of designers filled every working space.

I was a day late to the opening of the sale, so I missed the grand rush, but there were still plenty of bargains and discounts to make me drool. I scored my beloved Orla Kiely for 75 percent off the normal price and a pair of Charlotte Ronson sandal shoes for the summer. I left wondering what I had missed at the opening but happy for the money I had saved.

Fortunately for the rest of the world outside New York, that feeling of discovery and the thrill of saving can be experienced online on sample sale sites such as Gilt, Rue La La, Hautelook and Ideeli. There are even phone apps so you'll never miss an opening, but don't be surprised if the popular designers sell out within 15 minutes of their release.

Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, the founder of, sought to capture the exclusivity and excitement of sample sales with a website that has 2 million members to date.

"In essence, we wanted to take the sample sale phenomenon to the rest of the country," she says.

Online sales are often like treasure hunts, where both lesser-known and premier designers sell wholesale from their lines. Often there are only a limited number of sizes available, so it pays to be a quick clicker. Also different from rack raking is that each item is modeled and photographed for the sale. However, as a now-seasoned online sample sale junkie, I can tell you it pays to know your exact measurements to get the best fit. Returns are accepted for shoes and clothes.

Bravo recently decided to partner with Rue La La to launch a clothing line exclusively through the sample sale site. Kathy Rose, a recent winner on the cable network's "Launch My Line" competition series, had great success with her two-day online sale. Everything was sold out by the end.

"I thought the people at Rue La La did a beautiful job," she says. "For me as the designer, I was happy with it."

Ms. Rose's nature-inspired jewelry pieces have been sold to Madonna, Cameron Diaz, Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston. On the Rue La La site, her jewelry designs were joined by a clothing line of animal print and gown-inspired designs. Suddenly, her work was not only available to the suburban sect but also affordable.

Now only her celebrity-worthy couture pieces are available at her store in West Hollywood and online at The masses will just have to wait for another sample sale. Oh, the suspense!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mama goes to New York Fashion Week

Fashion Week Presents Unusual Challenges

NEW YORK -- Despite the snow that blanketed the city at the start of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week last Thursday, attendees arrived at Bryant Park already nostalgic for the 17-year-old venue (the shows will move to Lincoln Center next season). I showed up five-months pregnant, curious about the glamorous sect.

After a long drive from Pittsburgh, I arrived just in time for my first show, Christian Siriano, smelling like my 19th-month-old's baby food and looking like I was going grocery shopping in my sweatpants. I clung to my assigned seat, afraid it would be given away to someone better-looking.

Instead, everyone had gathered on the runway with all sorts of cameras to take photos of Mena Suvari, DJ Leigh Lezark, Amber Rose and CariDee English.

Throughout the next couple of days, many murmured about the passing of innovative British designer Alexander McQueen. Most noticeably, his signature skull print scarf was worn by several attendees. A giant Twitter screen scrolled the messages of bloggers mourning his parting. I was upset, too; he left this world on my birthday.

On Sunday, British designer Rebecca Taylor, whose show I was denied admission to although I had a confirmed ticket, spoke with me at the after-party about how she was so devastated that she forbade her staff from speaking about Mr. McQueen in her presence. She didn't feel it was a topic for gossip. She was, however, happy to talk about her kids and how much they love fashion.

This was a theme throughout the weekend: Children of all ages seemed to be present at every show. The writer that these young people undoubtedly read is 13-year-old blogger Tavi Gevinson. I recognized her dyed bluish-gray hair instantly when I stepped onto the elevator at my hotel. After surveying my red maternity dress (it was Valentine's Day) she told me she liked my gray flowered cloche. I blushed and thanked her. For some reason, getting a compliment from her made me feel a little more confident among the severe, black-dressed fashion sect.

Back at the tents, Pittsburgh fashion blogger Racheallee Lacek was trying to get her thoughts down before her laptop lost power in the crowded media room. She said there were more parties and events for bloggers this year because many companies are taking notice of smaller audiences in markets such as Pittsburgh.

Her friend Julie DiNardo, the creator of Neighborhood Tees and editor of the blog Fashion Pulse Daily, thought that the move to Lincoln Center will make it easier for more media to get into shows. She is not alone. Donna Karan and other designers believe it will legitimize fashion by placing it in the world of the arts. After being ordered to move to make room for Carmen Electra's entrance at one show, I hope that this is true.

Television personalities seemed to be this year's paparazzi targets. I spotted MTV's Whitney Port surrounded by cameras as she tried to find a way into the Bryant Park Hotel while I was waiting outside in line. So many unexpected personalities (like the Real Housewives of New York) came to shows such as Herve Leger, Rebecca Taylor and Diane von Furstenberg that people with reservations were simply bumped.

Of course, nothing really prepares you for being told that because of people pretending to be pregnant to get seats, you will have to stand. At the Luca Luca presentation, a young volunteer was trying hard to get me a seat despite my protest that I didn't need one for a 15-minute show.

A debate about whether I was really pregnant ensued behind my back among members of security until an older manager explained that because people were known to feign pregnant bumps, I would have to stand. I expected people to push me aside or fight over seats, but I never expected to have my belly be a subject of controversy. Really!

Despite the predictable closed doors and disorganization that preceded the presentations for Fall 2010, the shows I saw had tones of purple and raisin with variations of ruffles and masculine suited looks. In many cases, such as Christian Siriano and Charlotte Ronson, the audience wore more avant-garde clothing than what was seen on the runway.

Siriano had a lot of elegant silhouettes with ruffles and drapes of silk or chiffon. Ronson channeled the "Arabian Nights" with turbans and long, pleated skirts. Georges Chakra reversed the tuxedo collar into an evening gown. Luca Luca used eggplant to brighten tall-collared looks with petal skirts. Even the wild style of Custo Barcelona used variations of purple and layered textures.

Billowed shoulders on small feminine forms and bold, big flutter forms were seen in every line. Lace-up oxford angle boots have replaced the peep-toe bootie, and cut-out patterns appear in creative places.

Distressed patterns seem to be making appearances in all the lines, whether as an accent or fabric for a sheath dress. Now this I could relate to. After a few days of Fashion Week (which continues through Thursday), I was feeling much like that distressed fabric myself!

Little Fashionistas: Couture your Children

Couture designers creating clothes for children that mimic their adult collections

One of the biggest trends in designer apparel in the past years has been the shrinking of garments to fit the smallest of consumers -- tots. Couture children's clothes that reflect their adult companions are a trend that has inspired Little Marc

Jacobs, Custo Growing by Custo Barcelona, Little Ella by Ella Moss, Junior Gaultier by Jean Paul Gaultier, and Stella McCartney for BabyGap.

Although Phillip Lim, Chloe, and Antik Batik have come out with lines for kids, you will most likely not find them in local boutiques that have their own chic children designers that imitate more grown-up trends. Shelley Pieklik, owner of Tiny Dot in Shadyside, says the Pittsburgh market is a little more practical than miniaturizing adult clothes. "High-end clothes last and are well-made," she says. "So many people come in here and say, 'Why doesn't this come in my size?' A lot of clothes aren't just cute. People dress their kids in their style."

The need for comfortable and stylish clothing is exactly what inspired brands such as Splendid to launch Splendid Little, which you will find at Picket Fence on Walnut Street. Little Ella is another line that was easy to translate from Ella Moss' creative cotton jersey line. At Lullabye Landing in Mt. Lebanon you will find Diesel for boys and girls, but owner Stefanie Whitworth likes the French lines Jean Bourget and Catimini for a more creative couture look. This season a short charcoal cardigan from Eliane et Lena is a hot number that can be paired with everything from colors to white. A key to shopping couture for children is to look for creative and crafty pieces that are brighter interpretations of grown-up trends such as those by Lola et Moi or Lemon Loves Lime.

Similar to adult styles, this spring there will be a lot of gray or white palettes as well as crafty embellishments such as tiered ruffles, fabric creatures, embroideries, and handmade buttons. Ironically, tulle skirts are in for adults this spring, but they are always in for little girls. Stella McCartney released her own version of the tutu for GapKids this November and is set to launch another line for them in the next season. Her marching band inspired jackets brought the rocker vintage to kids in a fun and sophisticated way.

Many fathers don't want to envision their 3-year-old as a Sports Illustrated model, however, the swimsuit designer Maaji has already appropriated their line for toddlers to match mama. The tailored patchwork designs can be found at Lullabye Landing along with Rachel Weissman hair accessories for an added sophisticated sparkle.

On the more positive side of couture children's fashion is the trend for more eco and chemical-free collections such as the local line Rabbit Skins that uses felt from recycled bottles in playful characters on Ts and hats found at Ona in Mt Lebanon. Lines such as Happy Green Bee make their clothing from organic materials and this season their soft fabrics get the angled hemline treatment that is also familiar to mommies.

It is no surprise that children are getting the creative, couture and eco-conscious treatment from designers that are investing in future consumers. This past month even Bergdorf opened a new department called Little BG, specifically for the finest in infant fashion.

Published on March 17, 2010 in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette