The Wedding Gift Formula

I originally posted this back in 2002, but never migrated that old blog content to our MovableType version of the site, and now the WordPress version. Anyone remember Greymatter? Yeah, we were on that. Now, back to the original post…

Big wedding coming up this weekend with a trip out to San Diego. Cool! We’re psyched to hang out with David and Julie and David and Julie– yes, there’s two sets there. Oh yeah, and we’re excited about the wedding blah blah blah etc etc…

Which brings us to yet another fun topic– the wedding gift. We debated with the Almacy’s about just how much you’re supposed to spend on the bride and groom. Tonya said you should probably spend what it cost the hosts to have you there– so, if it’s $100 a plate then you get a $100 gift. But there’s two of us– ouch– that’s a little steep. But what she wasn’t taking into account was the Gift Oscillating and Changing Etiquette Accounting Practices, or GOCHEAP.

See, there are several factors involved here:
(dt) DISTANCE TRAVELED – rather obvious. Unit: miles.
(tc) TRAVEL COST – you guessed it. Unit: U.S. Dollar
(cr) CAR RENTAL – yeah. Unit: U.S. Dollar
(sd) STAY DURATION – how many hotel nights. Unit: Days
(hc) HOTEL COST – Obvi. Unit: U.S. Dollar
(iacgtbtf) IS ANYONE COOL GOING TO BE THERE FACTOR – well, is there? Factor: 0-1
(dpyiacu) DAYS PER YEAR I ACTUALLY SEE YOU – the number of days per year that we actually see the couple. Unit: Days
(obf) OPEN BAR FACTOR – self explanatory Possible Values: 1 for No, 2 for yes
(ffd) Per David Almacy: THE FRINGE FRIEND DISCOUNT Unit: Variable Percentage:
– surprised you were invited to the wedding? = 25%
– made the secondary guest list: 15%
– knew you were going to be invited all along: 0
(hmtaigtgibtfwtf) HOW MUCH TROUBLE AM I GOING TO GET IN BY TONYA FOR WRITING THIS FORMULA: Unit: Contstant: A Lot, or at least $200 worth.

Finally, here’s the formula:
(((dt)+( (tc)+(cr) )+(sd)*(hc)  * (iacgtbtf) * ((dpyiacu)*-1) ^ (obf)) * (ffd))+(hmtaigtgibtfwtf)
I hope that helps everyone who’s shopping for wedding gifts this summer.

Note: I’ve never used the formula. I’ve never actually plugged numbers into this formula. But I’m sure it works… as long as the answer is $200.

I’m off to

So Where Are the Updates?

It’s been almost a year since we updated the House of Klause. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t… not sure what we’re going to do with it– if anything we’ll keep it around because there’s a few years worth of life on it.
Not to say we’re not blogging, though.
You can find Tonya’s cool posts on life, style, politics, and whatevs at
You can find Rob’s posts about food, nerdy things, and… whatevs at
And of course we’re all over the Facebook:
Aaaaaaaaand, of course, we tweet:
And wherever else bing finds us.
We love this stuff.

To Swim Bike Run or not to Swim Bike Run

So yesterday was my first foray into training for the numerous (mini) triathalons coming down the pike in Northern Virginia…Nearly half of the women on my street are training (some of them are pretty hard core!), so it’s a great motivating factor.. “If they can do it, so can I?!!” goes through my head… I did pretty well on the track and on the bike, although the big Broadlands Blvd and Glebe View hill combo pretty much did me in. Let’s just say i felt the burn!
I did have some serious swollen left thigh issues…A reminder of the joys of first pregnancy (Graham) when the thigh-length clot got lodged in there and darn did hole me up in the hospital for a few days. Now that i’m post two kids and numerous clots (and yes, on blood thinner), i’ve come to terms with the reality that i will never have great circulation in my left leg (the throbbing yesterday was painful reminder), but why should that slow me down. I think we’ll have to take this one step (stroke, pedal) at a time and see if i can power through the pain and mitigate where possible to attack the TRI……
I haven’t gotten into the pool yet and that is not a big worry to me, but the bike really is intimidating. Even though i got up the big hills, i had trouble with my gears and freaked out a bit on the descent down TruroParish (visions of me tumbling forward off the bike at 30 mph danced through my head). It is hard for me to think about pedaling to go faster faster faster, when it’s so lovely just to feel the breeze run through your stinky helmet. So, let’s just say i have some work to do there..
But get ready, all you “i have something to prove” stay at home moms with your fancy lightweight tri bikes. me and my cheapo cruiser hybrid will be coming up behind you…watch you back…Tonya’s gonna figure this out…

Hilton Head

Time for a few new kid pictures, which always come with vacation time, like it or not. Me likey, Rob not so much (the taking of the pictures, that is…)
The weather and activities have been pretty much out of the beach vacation guide book (sunny, hot, add beach, water, good seafood restaurants and vacation villa) but it’s our right to publish a few, darnit, because we have to track how these kids grow, vacation to vacation, year to year…. and of course, since i’ve been denied twins in my life, my mother has at least taken to dressing the cousins the same (with some encouragement from me)….

Earth Year

So I missed blogging on Earth Day — which is likely the most overhyped non-holiday holiday on Earth! But the great thing about that is that we are actually now in a societal phase where Earthiness has become cool and thre is less need for one dedicated day out of the year to focus people on the topic. If each of us is not at least trying to do something to Green your home, travel, family or even planet in some way, then shame on us! Check out Julie Almacy’s new blog on greening that Almacy clan.
I do credit Al Gore for much of the awareness raising success. Not sure i buy into all the doomsday predictions, but it’s undeniable that we have a planet being overtaken by poluting, selfserving societies.
There are big issues we will need to face — like reconciling global goals of economic development with the fact that with that come burgeoning populations and more pollution (Hello China). There are also unintended consequences of the race toward biofuels — actually having the opposite effect of their intent to lessen our reliance on oil and gas. With the global demand for biofuels skyrocketing, the Amazon rainforests (which trap tremendous amounts of carbon) are being destroyed so that big agra-enterprises can plant corn and soy. This long term effect will release MORE carbon into the atmosphere AND is already creating demand for biofuels, thus driving up food prices around the world. This Time Magazine story on the issue is a must read:
But there is hope.

Faith, policy and reflections on the Pope’s visit

I am a long time fan of columnist Mike Gerson. He doesn’t know me, but I remember him from when he worked for then-Senator Dan Coates when I worked for social activist/conservative Bob Woodson. Gerson was writing Coates’ speeches, emerging as the best, bar none, conservative speechwriter on the Hill. He has always seemed to have come from a place of faith – centralizing themes of justice, mercy, and compassion. Back then (late 90s), it was the Renewal Alliance that brought voice to this on the Hill, when the term compassionate conservative was not tied to a man from Texas.
Because that team has been so overused and sullied (fairly or unfairly), I hesitate to use it now to describe myself – but can find few other adjectives that capture my approach to allowing my faith to dictate a position on public policy that seeks to catalyze forces of the market, private institutions, and the best of a restrained government to meet the needs of the least among us. I find some voice in my position this week – as Gerson reflects on Pope Benedict’s historic visit to Washington last week and his reminder to the U.S. of the church’s role in advocating for the weak, even amidst its own failings:
It is never an easy discussion to bring faith into public life and positions – as evidenced by the way the three presidential candidates tiptoe around things like their prayer life, their positions on abortion, their marriages. However, it is a necessary discussion and the Pope cuts to the chase, with a direct aim out our culture of relativism, reminding us (at least me) of the value of faith in informing our public positions…
E.J. Dionne, another incredibly thoughtful columnist who’s been writing on this “beat” well before Gerson, provides another view of this visit and how as a Catholic himself, it’s brought numerous issues to the surface. Says Dionne, “Benedict directly challenged an assumption so many Americans make about religion: that it is a matter of private devotion with few public implications.” Read on….

Hill Girl Mania… also known as SWAG

I think it had been so long since we were all together at once for an extended period of time that we were half drunk with excitement when we met a few weeks ago (alright it was early February, I’m lame; get over it). What – no kids? No husbands giving us the look of “let’s go” – no place to be? Jessie, Diana, Alissa and Andrea piled into someone’s minivan (yes, several of us are lame in this regard as well) and hauled it down to Virginia from New Holland while Missie came up from Richmond.
The best place I could think of to meet was Tyson’s Galleria – which I lovingly refer to as the “shi shi” mall – all the great high end stores (Saks, Neiman Marcus, BCBGMaxAzria) with a few massmarket chains (Bloomingdales, Ann Taylor) thrown in. The first funny moment of the weekend was after our tummies were full from Cheesecake Factory goodness. We were getting ready to get our shop on, when who walked by but Newt Gingrich. If you’ve worked on the Hill long enough, running into someone like this is not a big deal – in fact, I still have a picture of me with the Newt to prove it. However, for out of town visitors, this is the DC version of the star sighting, (just significantly less glamour than Rob’s sighting of Eva Longoria in a West Hollywood Starbucks a few years ago..but, I digress). Anyway, it was enough of a big deal that in the bathroom, they started dishing on the Newt, not knowing his (3rd) wife was a few stalls away… it was quite the scene to see Diana and Jessie scurrying out of the ladies room, tails between their legs once they realized the situation….
By the time we were done with Ann Taylor, MAC(yes even this MaryKay girl needs a sturdy eye color brush), Williams-Sonoma, and BCBG MaxAzria, with a Starbucks break in between, we were tired. I think most of our time was in BCBG where Andrea went back and forth and back and forth – in typical Ange fashion on whether or not to buy that tan knit vest with rabbit fur hoodie!..while she was making up her mind, I bought one in black…
After our mall-chick day, we came back to the House of Klause and feasted on fondue and Antipasta. Even Rob got into the game before he and the kids retreated to the elder House of Klause for the night. He mixed us some Caipirinhas and stirred up the fondue… such a good husband… Not just any fondue – I got this great idea from Robin to use the Gruyere mixture from Wegmans and go to town dipping everything from chicken sausage and potatoes, to a variety of breads and veggies. We chowed. And I paired it with the can’t go wrong (and gorgeous) antipasto that I’ve perfected – using romaine, tomatoes, olives, gardeniera, provolone cheese, cappocola, mortadella, salami, and prosciutto, with Italian dressing and fresh parmesan grated overtop. To die for!! You know you’ve scored with this crowd when the three cooks all ask for the recipe..
Then, before dessert, it was time to sit around in our mommy jammies and dish – on everything from Garden Spot classmates to emerging wrinkles and saggy (or nonexistent) boobs and sex with socks on (I won’t tell who). The husbands pretty much escaped unscathed — even after we’d had two bottles of Rosa Regale. But seriously, on the husband point – if there was a lesson in the conversation, it was that we are all incredibly blessed with a few good men. Oh, that the Lord favors our sons someday with wives like us! 
We ended the night with birthday weekend cake for Diana – a special Wegmans Ultimate Chocolate Cake and fruit tart….over discussion of JLo (my current favorite fashion icon; tied with Gwyneth), SWAG (no one knew was this is?!!) Do you? ….and a look at Diana’s new jewelry line, Pretty Unique….
After a 2 am bedtime, we were up and at it early and off to Clydes down the street for Sunday brunch – complete with virgin Bloody Mary’s which Andrea prefers to exhale through the nose….Here’s the gang…..
Then, they were off…. Home to relieve the men just in time for Superbowl Kickoff…..

Are You Blogging?

Tonya and I promised each other we’d blog this weekend. So there. I blogged.
Speaking of, my sister Robin launched her own cooking/food blog– The Big Red Kitchen ( It’s cool, fun, and informative, AND she’s a blogging machine. Go Robin! My sister is now a geek!

Graham’s First Roller Coaster Ride

Back in June we visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom. There’s a ton of pictures I still need to post, but I’ve been sitting on this video for too long. Graham’s still talking about his first roller coaster ride– he’s pretty sure he loved it and keeps asking to go again. So you decide: did he love it? Was the ride too scary? Or was the cackling goon sitting next to him even scarier?

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