Monday, March 28, 2011

Snow Day/Beach Day

We woke up on Friday morning and it looked like this outside:
Snow day
Not pictured: whiteouts and 100km winds

MUN was closed, and the city pretty much shut down, so we were all stuck at home. Paul had a paper due, but the deadline had changed to midnight, so he was free to spend the day with his family!

So, we did something I've been wanting to do for awhile. Beach day! We set up the living room with a tan blanket for sand, and a blue tarp for water...
Mom and the girls
added a couple of umbrellas, a bucket and some egg carton cups for shells.

 Beach Day
A dolphin even stopped by to say hello!
We had a fantastic time, all dressed in our beach clothes. M got to wear her bathing suit for the very first time.
We had a picnic lunch on the floor, listened to the Beach Boys and generally just had a great day.
M on the Beach
In the evening, G went fishing. We cut up some cardboard fish and I made a fishing rod out of a pen, string and paperclip. She tossed her line over the couch cushion and I put a little fish on it to go in her bucket.
Snow days can be pretty awesome. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Not Worth It (a return to the No Name Experiment)

I received a complaint (from this guy - known to me as Dad) that I started this No Name thing and haven't kept going. I originally planned to do a once-a-week update, but life got in the way. I have three half-finished posts. So I'm going to try and finish those in the next couple weeks and become disciplined enough to actually post reviews!

So, before this started, there are some things I've already tried in the past and have deemed Not Worth It At All. I'm not going to retry them this time around.

No Name Κraft Dinner* - Nobody makes that neon orange powdered cheese like Kraft. Aside from PC White Chedder Mac and Cheese, none of the generic brands compare. We only have it on occasion (usually I put spinach in it, which G thinks it comes with), but those occasions have to be brand name.

Toilet Paper - No. Just no. It's not worth it in many ways, including the price, because you tend to use more of a thinner brand.

Things I've tried in the past couple weeks that are not very tasty:

Instant Oatmeal - I like hot cereal in the morning, but I hate dirtying a pot, so I buy instant sometimes. Ugh. I tried the Apple Cinnamon flavour and it was not good. Gummy, tasteless and so much worse then Quaker.

Soda Crackers - The name brand is just SO much better. If you eat generic for awhile, you can kinda forget that, but once you buy a box of Premium brand, you notice the huge difference.

Oat O's (aka Cheerios) - G has not entirely expressed her dislike for generic Cheerios, but they're pretty bad. I hate buying cereal because of how overpriced it is, but I'd much rather just wait for a sale on brand name then get No Name.

(that is such a Canadian thing to say - that is to say, boxed Mac and Cheese)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Swear This Really Happened

Paul: Okay, G, you are Superman, and M will be Batman. (he plays with M, flying her through the air) NaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNa...BATMAN!!

G: (takes of running) Pssh-ooo Superman! Do DO Dooo! Superman!   (stops) No, no, I want M to be the Flash!

Paul: Okay, here goes M, running really fast (runs off with her)

G: (runs after them) No, No, I want M to be Green Lantern!

Ah, yes, we are nerds and we are raising our kids to be nerds.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Strong Female Rolemodels

This is the second of a two parter on raising girls, here's Paul's. This is mine.

G has been asking for stories all the time lately. She wants us to make up stories out of our heads. It can get tiring. I can come up with some fun stories off the top of my head, but sometimes they're just:  "Once upon a time there was a little girl who went to the park. She saw a puppy, it barked. The End"
So, sometimes I retell fairy tales off the top of my head. The Three Bears, Cinderella, Snow White.
The other day I was nearing the end of Snow White when I started wanting to edit it. The ending bugged me in a way it never had before.
In the version we have on our shelf (that I was telling from memory), Snow White is in her glass coffin with a dwarf guarding her and the prince comes along and, since she is so beautiful, decides he must have her in his castle. What a jerk! The dwarves were mourning their friend, guarding her night and day, and along comes this guy out of nowhere to take her away! And of course, the ending of her waking up and instantly falling in love with him? Do I really want my daughter to take that as an example?
But here's the thing - I also grew up on those fairy tales and I don't have (that) warped of a view of love/men. So, I don't think I should censor or edit those classic tales.
However, I do want to think about what stories are available to her. Female role models beyond the standard disney princess.
Despite being annoying, Dora the Explorer is great - she's a girl with a compass and a backpack who decides where she gets to go. Unfortunately, she's also on EVERYTHING (including a pack of carrots I saw recently), and I don't love the rampant consumerism cartoons like that encourage.
I love (and G loves) Jessie from Toy Story. She is a great cowgirl who is strong and confident.

But, what I really love is a book I discovered last week. Brave Margaret, an irish folktale told by Robert San Souci that is a fantastic story of a woman who fights a sea monster and a giant. It's one of the most refreshing tales of a strong female lead I've read. I instantly thought - I must buy this and have it on my shelf. It's a little too old for G and M at this point, but I can't wait for them to discover it when they're old enough.

I love classic fairy tales, but I also want my girls to know that they can be the ones with the sword.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Don't Call My Daughter "Princess"

Note: This is part one of a two part series on raising girls. Part one is by Paul, part two will be by me.

If you aren't a parent -- and especially if you're not the parent of a daughter -- you might not be aware of the whole "princess" thing.  But trust me.  It's a thing.  Before I even get into whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, it's a thing.

G gets called "princess" several times a day by strangers, and when she's wearing a dress (especially a fancy dress) she gets called "princess" repeatedly by almost everyone who sees her.  Grocery store clerks say "oh are you a princess?"  People on the street say "What a little princess!"

So what's wrong with that?  Girls go through a princess phase.  What's the big deal?

A couple of things.  Firstly, for G, the princess phase hasn't started yet.  And this princess bombardment will keep going long past the natural life cycle of any phase.  It's not "just a phase", it's a cultural prescription.  When girls get told from the time they are born that they are princesses, that's not just a phase.  Culture tells my daughters that they are (should be) princesses. Books, toys, movies and especially Disney bombard girls with princesses.  And what assumptions are built into that label?

Princesses have no power*. They aren't queens, don't have any power except the power to marry a prince.  They are objects not subjects.  They don't do anything, they are done to.  More, the cultural image of a princess is a pretty princess, so my daughters get told all the time that their only value lies in their appearance.

Secondly, princesses aren't just an abstract cultural idea, they're a cultural commodity.  It's about stuff, mostly stuff sold by Disney.  Disney markets the "disney princess" brand so strongly and so successfully that it's hard to get away from.  And as marketing it's very successful.  But I don't want my daughters to be consumers.  I actually think unchecked consumerism is a bad thing, and I want to teach my daughters to resist it.

Finally, it's boring.  G is full of imagination.  One minute she's a tiger then next she's a cowboy then she's Mommy then she's Daddy then she's Superman then she's a singer then she's a dancer then she's a frog then she's a cook.  And when she's wearing a fancy dress, she could be a fairy or a ballet dancer or an architect in a fancy dress.  And why can't a princess be part of that?  It can.  It is and it unavoidably will be.  But the princess idea is already taken care of by movies and books and strangers and pyjamas.  If everyone who has ever thought about it deliberately avoided calling G and M "princess" they probably would still get called "princess" every single day.  So seriously people  Just stop it.

*Jan's editorial note: Except She-Ra, Princess of Power. But she's from the 80's. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Watching a kid grow up can be amazing in some ways. Take colouring for example. We moved here 6 months ago, and G was doing random scribbles. She pretty much ignored any pictures in the colouring book and had no shape at all to her drawings.

 Then, one day a couple months ago she drew a circle and Paul and I went "Hey! A circle!! Amazing."
Next thing you know, she drew this:

And we went: "She drew a person! It has a smile and everything!" In fact, we pulled this away and put it on the fridge before she could colour on it anymore and ruin it. 

Now, she's really drawing stuff. Stuff you can recognize! I took this video a couple days ago of her family portrait drawing.

I can now see why every parent thinks their child is gifted. Look at how fast they change!