Dear members; It may seem hard to believe that the 'bazaar o' world that was my childhood could be even more dysfunctional, but I assure you when it came to money we entered the world of extreme dysfunction (frankly outright crazy) we didn't fall down the rabbit hole , we were the rabbit hole! For one thing the discussion of 'money' was verboten, it was gauche, tacky, trashy,and absolutely forbidden. My mothers motto was"If you must look at the price tag, you can't afford it". And no we were not rich ( just delusional). My mother was a major 'foodie snob' before there was such a thing. She attended cooking, baking, and confectionery schools the world over and most of her fare was delectable, far better appreciated in hindsight then as a child that dreams of eating a McDonald's burger or sliced bread from the grocery store, you can not imagine the fantasies I had over Spaghetti Os. Meals were a many splendid thing, and you never knew what region of the world you would be sampling, but you were assured it was not going to be the child-centric pap that was going to kill other peoples children. Meals were a formal affair, this as a sign of respect for the chef, tables set according to the bible of Gracious Living Amy Vanderbilt Etiquette. And just in case all that wasn't enough to make you lose your appetite (It was always so beautifully plated and presented that you would hate to destroy the artistry) I was required to eat with a book on my head to insure the development of good posture( just in case I should run into Prince Charming . . . highly unlikely but she persisted). Canned foods were forbidden and bread was made fresh daily, all food was made from scratch including beverages. Only the very freshest and best quality foods were allowed in my mothers kitchen, unfortunately being an UN-diagnosed Celiac meant that My aversion to certain delicacies read to my mother as obstreperous, even rude. Because my father was an artist we always seemed to be in a state of feast or famine. I being the oldest by a number of years, have a different past reality than my siblings, because by the time they came along the crazy 'live off your art' phase, had thankfully been exhausted, and they had realized that a more reliable income would be required. Unfortunately this did not change there basic money management skills, which left their offspring in the untenable position of trying to learn something they had been taught was beneath them. Confusing I know, I am still struggling. One story that exemplifies my struggle, and you may find amusing ( I have since found a middle ground) involves my children when they were young. As a young mother of a son (I had been positive 'he' would be a 'she', I had never been in the boys dept. of any store until he was born, and I had ALL girl regalia). My first visit to the boys clothing dept in Nordstrom's was so traumatizing and depressing that 'Me' the 'World Class Shopper Extraordinaire', did not feel I could face that sea of beige, brown, blue, and white ever again (OK occasionally they throw in a red, yellow, or green). Turned out there was a fix for that, as soon as my little one was big enough I could schedule a personal shopper, and once he started school it was absolutely the most wonderful idea ever created, (have you ever been shopping with a child?) Turns out this little bi-annual convenience is quite pricey (who'd of guessed). When you have 1 child you tend not to notice these little inconveniences, but, we adopted twin boys, school age, and as you can imagine Nordstrom's was more than happy to accommodate my, and my boys needs. When I picked up my brood I was delighted with their selections, my boys were happy and fed, altogether a pleasant affair . . .and then. Turns out not everyone one was so pleased with my ingenuity(husband), and my reasoning appeared to go right over his head, while his reasoning just seemed vulgar and cheap to me. Consequently our next shopping spree I decided to try his suggestion at least once. We went to Mervyn's, I was flabbergasted at the prices and the variety, though I admit this was not my idea of a nice shopping experience, I was still in the boys dept. and these were pre- pubescent boys that had frankly strange ideas about style and sizing that led to not a few unpleasant exchanges and the reminder of who's money was being spent( I know vulgar, but that is how exasperated I was), Still we left Mervyn's like a pack of drunken elves, with so many bags for so little money, I was very proud of my new found economy and so was my husband. HA HA HA the feelings of jubilation did not last past the first washing. This was unacceptable. My eldest son's clothing was still in such pristine condition after being worn and played in by not just himself but the twins as well, that my grandson wore them and they looked like new. Also if on the rare occasion that their was an issue (seams, holes in knees) they were replaced immediately , no questions asked and with a smile. NOT SO Mervyn's, by the end of the first week it was clear we were going to have a problem. Seams were unraveling, buttons were lost, knees were worn , and sweaters were falling apart, and this was before washing, after which a good number of items looked as if they belonged to infants. And that was just the beginning of the indignities I suffered , while trying to rectify my horrible mistake. When I tried to exchange or return these obviously defective items, I was treated like a criminal. It took three trips to the store and a call to their executive offices to receive satisfaction in the matter. Needless to say I never darkened their doorstep again. And to think, I'm considered the practical, no talent of my siblings(frightening, I know). I do at least recognize the issues now, and am working hard to shake off all those elocution classes, and debutante training(honestly a waste of time for someone with no rhythm). Certainly being the offspring of creative types is an odyssey in itself , but I fear the worst of it is, in dealing in the realm of reality when it comes to finances. Hopefully I can learn from you dear members, and we can learn together while still enjoying all that life has to offer, and feeling as if we are able to contribute generously with out fear or trepidation for our future.