Julie is a friend who should have a blog, but doesn’t. Her last Nirvana appearance was to upgrade my beaver trapping apparel. She is funny, cute and smart. She is a freelance writer at home with her three children. Today I am taking advantage of her blogless situation by posting the following story that she wrote:

Catalogs Save the Day
By Julie Blair Riekse

Confession: I am a total catalog junkie.

On any given day about 6 p.m., you ™ll find my four-year-old twins floating in the tub while I perch atop the potty playing lifeguard. On my lap is usually a pile of dog-eared mags selling wares from J. Crew, Garnet Hill or my new favorite from England, Mini Boden.

While others might ply their minds with the national section of the local newspaper or a book of historical fiction, I prefer to segue into my evenings with something akin to Valium.

My husband, of course, thinks thumbing through a wrinkled copy of Pottery Barn Kids: Spring 2008 is a total waste of time. He is one of those intellectual types who memorizes maps and learns foreign languages in the space between shampooing and conditioning.

Mostly he worries that the glossies will actually hit their mark and lead to a purchase.

I guess I should tell him that PBK is the only reason I have yet to resign my post as stay-at-home mom.

Just looking at a picture of a color-coded playroom where children appear to share the mint green retro kitchen set gives me strength to make it through the bedtime battle then straighten up my own bomb-damaged rumpus room.

Moreover, I find that catalogs make me a more creative mother.

Wow, I ™ll think to myself as I stroke a forefinger over the $36 splat mat advertised in Land of Nod. I could make one of those out of the black trash bags to spare my new beige carpet the devastation of tempera paint.

And so I do.

In addition, my catalog habit has resulted in healthier eating for our family.
I look at the apple-cheeked models in the Baby Gap Fall ad campaign and mentally remind myself to purchase organic grapes while at Sprouts later in the evening.

Occasionally, my catalogs even help me make friends.

While my husband has colleagues at work with whom to converse, I have Elaine, the operator at The Company Store.

Last Wednesday, when no girlfriend was available to take my calls, I spoke with Elaine about the potential purchase of a duvet covered in sunflowers.
Well, I told her, I ™m really cold down there in the Snoring Room at night so I think I need a new layer to add to the bed.

The Snoring Room? she asked. Why are you down in that guest room all by yourself, dear? You should have him get the Pillar Procedure. It stops 98 percent of all nasal reactions without the noise of one of those machines. My Earl did it five years ago and we ™ve been back up in the master together ever since. Totally saved our marriage. Well, it was that and the cruise to Mexico. What's your zip code, again, Honey?

75022, I respond.

That's Dallas. Elaine says. If you can do the drive to Galveston, you might want to consider the Caribbean Royal Cruise Line.

After 55 minutes on the phone, Elaine and I hang up.

I am thus completely refreshed and ready to scrub the pans in the sink.

Catalogs, too, give me a sense of the passing of time and encourage me to savor the precious moments with my own children.

My favorite Delia's model ”the one with the large blue eyes and the crooked front teeth ”has really grown up since she became the retailer's go-to girl three years ago. Last Christmas, her perfect mane was in pigtails now they ™ve got her sporting these too-short miniskirts that make her look like a hussy despite the patterned schoolgirl knee-highs.

I swear. They grow up so fast.

I close my catalogs and put them away.

Gingerly, I lift my twins from the bathtub and gently wrap them in their towels.

Now, we're ready for a good book.

Julie Blair Riekse is the President of the Metrocrest Parents of Multiples and a freelance writer. When the time comes, she always recycles her catalogs.

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