Thursday, 30 January 2014

Super Late to the Party

Guys, I have discovered...podcasts.

I know! I know! Seriously, how 2009 of me. The thing is, I am never timely to any party. Ever. I only joined Facebook four years ago, and that was because I wanted to keep in contact with friends I was making in German classes. I offered my email around, but everyone looked at me like I was a freak of nature: EMAIL? What are you, on the cusp of your thirties or something? No one emails anymore! So I joined Facebook, except we all forgot that none of us spoke the same language, including German. It was a bit of a fail.

I'm finally on Twitter, but I don't tweet. I just read. If I think about it, I might start tweeting in five years, right when everyone else moves onto a different medium.

Current Events wasn't my strong subject in social studies, is what I'm sayin'. But never mind, because here I am in the fresh weeks of 2014, finally getting excited about podcasts. Specifically the literature podcast put out by the New Yorker. It features well known authors reading one of their favourite short stories, and then later on discussing the story, interview-style, with the literature editor for the magazine.

It's making my little nerdy heart go pitter-patter. I feel like I'm sitting in class again, debating good books.

The other day I listened to David Sedaris reading a short story written by Miranda July, and then engage in a bit of banter with the editor. I washed the dishes and shouted out when I disagreed with the editor. Incidentally, I always disagree with her because considering the number of stories I've listened to now, I always wonder what page she's on because I never feel she's offering pertinent insight. However, she is the literature editor for the New Yorker, so there's a good chance it's all me.

I like listening to these podcasts as I wash up after lunch, while LB naps, and at night when I'm making dinner.

(Tangent! I have a friend who heard Margaret Atwood lecture at her university, and she warned me her voice was a total bummer. She was right! Don't listen to her podcast! Her voice is without inflection! The most monotonous voice I've ever heard! She sounds stoned! It's so disappointing!)

I've also found a video podcast for LB, and it's one put out by Sesame Street. Each video is about five to ten minutes long, and focuses on a theme. Today's was 'Adventure' and we watched Ginnifer Goodwin and a little Sesame Street character introduce us to what an adventure could be, and watched others tell us about adventures they'd recently been on.

It's good fun, and serves as a timely bit of breathing room when life becomes unbearably difficult for my little poppet. It really sucks when your mother won't let you stand up on the dining room table, or eat flour. It sucks so much that a good scream and a cry are the only way to let your parental units know that YOU. ARE. DISPLEASED. WITH. LIFE.

So tell me, Internet, what are you listening to?

I'd like to wring out as much podcast experience as possible, before it goes up in smoke. Which, should be in about four minutes.

I really am very late to this party.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Happy Tree

I was going to title this post "Adventures in Sleep Regression" but that's a bit of a bummer and I'm sort of too tired to try and find the humour in it. I will briefly summarise as follows:

Once upon a time there lived a mum, a dad, and a sweet baby who slept so well, almost from birth, that the parents felt like they won the baby lottery. Then about six weeks ago the baby decided she was done with being a perfect sleeper and decided to plunge, paci-first, into the longest sleep regression known to man. Also known as--determined via lots of frantic googling--the Eighteen Month Sleep Regression. Her parents feel like life is being slowly sucked out of them, one broken sleep at a time. Everyone, including the baby, is grumpy, pissed off, and dead tired.

                                                                    The End

What a great story! Share it with all your parent friends, because someone needs to warn them about this shit.

For serious.

In the few hours a day that we don't feel like crawling into a hole and hibernating until our baby is a grown, well-rounded, fully functioning adult who sleeps through the night again, Dan and I are trying to keep interested in our hobbies in our free non-parenting time. He's reading a Hitler book (WWII history buff, that one), and I've been trying to be arty.

So guess what I did?! I pulled a Bob Ross and painted a picture! Minus the whole happy-tree-landscape-dealio. Basically, I lied to you. I did not pull a Bob Ross. There were no squirrels hanging out in my pocket, or baby raccoons sitting on my shoulder, while I talked softly to a camera about the joys of painting, encouraging you to be brave and put in a big happy tree. But I did paint a picture though. See:


Okay, okay, I painted words! Whatever! Don't hassle me about it! I know it's awesome! NBD! Just relax! I'll sign autographs later!

This a lyric from JayZ's 'Run this Town' and it continues to be my favourite song lyric--quote--of all time. Everyone else can take their Eckhart Tolle, Buddhist, Dalai Lama, Thoreau, Oscar Wilde, Oprah, Kerouac, Fitzgerald, wisdom quotes and shred them. The above is truly what life is all about, right? Right?!

Right!

We just want to change the colour on our mood rings.

That's it!

Anyhow, I do have a painting idea involving cows brewing away, but I need more energy to complete it. More sleep. In the meantime I decided to do this, mainly because Dan and I were sick of the photograph that used to hang in this frame, and I didn't want to develop another of my photos to replace it.

Juuuiiicceee, Internet.

Catch you on the well-rested side.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

On Raising A Daughter, Part VI: Pretty In Pink Is Everywhere

I've mentioned it before, but prior to having LB I never really paid that much attention to controversial parenting topics. Why would I?

I WASN'T A PARENT.

However, there were some topics that were too loud not to hear, even for the childless. For example, that whole bottle vs. breast thing, the angry back-and-forth regarding the cry-it-out method, the topic of spanking, and the indignant screams of "Our Daughters Will Not Wear Pink!"

Over the years I have met many, many parents who are absolutely riled up about pink clothing.  For reasons that I really don't understand, it's the parents of girls who want to ensure people don't automatically assume their baby daughter is a 'girl', rather than parents of boys. I have met more than a handful of people who only shopped for their baby girl's clothes in the boy section, but I have never once met parents of boys who have purposefully shopped for their son's clothes in the girl's section. More times than I care to count I have blundered and assumed someone's baby is a boy, when it's a girl, and I took the cue based on what they were wearing. Not necessarily by the colour of the shirt, but by the graphics on the shirt. Does the shirt have a tractor on it? An airplane? A bow tie? Must be a boy, right? Not necessarily. Whenever this usually happens, the parent is oft to smugly reply, "Actually, she's a girl. We don't believe in limiting her clothing choices to pink."

Okay...

Since having LB I'm now even more confused why some parents of girls tried to avoid pink by dressing their daughters in boy's clothing, because I've never felt limited by the colour choices available in the girl's clothing section. Is pink around? Hell yeah. There's a lot of it, and we definitely own some of it. But it's absolutely not the only colour available, not by a long shot. There is a lot of choice, and you don't have to look that hard to find it. To clarify, I shop for LB mostly at H&M, because I have a subversion to spending too much money on something she will quickly outgrow. I also find clothes for her on sale at places like Loeb and Globus, and we have loving family who have showered LB with Carter's and OshKosh. Furthermore, I'm also now really confused about some of these parents who felt the need to dress their daughters in boys clothes because some have since gone on to have sons, and I don't know if they are just too tired (what with having two kids now) to keep up their rigorous vendetta against society's colour coding of gender, but they don't shop for their sons in the girl section. At all. 

What the fuck is the deal with that?

So girls can look like boys, but boys shouldn't look like girls?

That's a fairly significant double standard to play out in one family, don't you think?

I get that the subversion to pink is that it's considered not only a representation of submissive femaleness, but it also is a colour loaded with the implication that pink=girls caring too much about appearance. Being hung up on how they look. However, can't blue be just as damaging? Can't it equally stand for hyper-masculinity and all the problems that come along with that? And if we're going to be indignant about clothing choices, why not get all up in arms about how effing hideous it is that our kids have Disney princesses and Disney cars on their shirts and shoes, often as the ONLY CHOICE. I mean dudes, there's nothing stylish about that at all!

So no, Internet, I haven't found that the battle of pink should be waged in the wardrobes, but hear me out: I definitely think there is a war to be waged and it's in the aisles of the toy stores.

LB is seventeen months old now, and she's starting to branch out into more diverse toys. We are no longer just dealing with rattles and crinkle toys, which are all gender neutral. I didn't even realise that toys have shifted towards being alarmingly NOT gender neutral until that day I tried to find a baby doll for LB, for her Santa gift: one side of the store was garishly pink and the other side of the store was...all the rest of the colours.

There was a girl section for toys and a boy section.

Wha???

Since when is imagination gender specific? And so gender specific that one side of the store practically shouted NO BOYS ALLOWED.

I really don't care if studies have shown that boys and girls play differently. Since when does playing differently meaning spelling out to them that if they're a girl, these are their toy choices, and if they're a boy, it's these ones? It seems fairly stunting, and quite the opposite of what toys are supposed to do, when they are so gender specific. Toys are supposed to foster play, allow your kid to explore their imagination, and consequently figure out who they are and what their interests are.

When the only play kitchen options are pink, does this really encourage the boys to want to pretend to be chefs? Or to cook a meal for their family? When the toy babies are all dressed in pink and accessorised with pink strollers, will the boys, past a certain age, still feel comfortable playing with them or will they feel only girls can play with them? Boys (gasp!) like to play with dolls, too. I guess it's because they're human, hence have nurturing instincts, and want to impart on their baby dolls some of the nurturing they see their parents bestowing on them. Go figure! But it'll be an uphill battle to continue that interest once forces outside the home tell them that pink is for girls, hence their pink stroller is a girl's toy and if they play with it they're a girl. And Internet, I looked: there are only pink strollers.

And our girls. Pink is for girls, so I guess that yellow power drill set isn't for girls. Only boys. I guess it would only be for girls if they made it pink. Because that's the only way a girl will be interested in playing with it, right? If it's a pretty colour? If that's not gender discrimination, then this next one sure is: A grey microscope which, on the box, features a dad and his son being interested in science, marketed next to the pink microscope where the girl is alone, examining a flower. Fuck me. It's bad enough Lego has its pink line now, and it's not for building anything imaginative: it's a pre-determined structure, you build the house (or stable, or shopping strip), and that's all you can do with it. Then the Lego 'friends' can bake, shop, or get gussied up for a party. Holy. Shit. Our girls won't be dreaming about a career in architecture if they're only given the pink Lego, that's for sure.

Listen, if you can't tell, I'm downright pissed about the pink toys.

PISSED ABOUT IT.

Because unlike clothing, there aren't any other options. We're being told that these toys are 'only' for girls, to make sure only the girls play with them they're ONLY PINK, and I absolutely believe this has larger ramifications for enforcing gender stereotypes, and if you don't believe me look at this:

Toy catalog: 1970's vs. Today

(image via ToysRUs)

Nah, I'm just imagining it: toys aren't reinforcing for girls that looks are everything.

But...what happened to Strawberry Shortcake?

And Rainbow Bright?

And why does My Little Pony have to be a sexed-up hybrid?

(all images via Google images searching 'toys seem more pink' and 'girl toys seem sexier'. Though warning: proceed at your own risk on the last search term. Yikes. There was some very NSFW images next to Strawberry Shortcake)

Our girls (and boys) deserve better than this. They deserve to be able to play with any toy they choose, without reaching an eventual point where they wonder if the toy they're playing with is really a girl toy or a boy toy.

Purposefully dressing our girls like boys isn't solving anything, but having our children be able to play together with toys that aren't so gender specific it will create a nagging, wondering, question: "Is this really for me? Is this all there is for me?" can change everything.

Children don't deserve to have their imagination be pigeon-holed by pink or blue.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Home Sweet Home

Cosmo is home, and so far seems to be on the road to recovery.
 
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He spent all of Saturday night following me around and trying to be in my arms at all times, which I was happy to oblige him with. He has since spent Sunday and most of today trying to avoid LB's enthusiastic devotions of love.
 
Poppy isn't taking Cosmo's return in good stride: she was happy to be an only cat last week, and has been hissing her displeasure for these past two days.
 
It's a fine balance, my friends.
 
A fine balance.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Oops, I Did It Again!

Remember how last year I confessed to having spoiled LB over Christmas? Well, it's possible I did it again this year.

I say it's 'possible', because while Dan thinks we did, I actually seriously don't believe we went overboard. The play kitchen with its assorted fruits, vegetables, and pots and pans was definitely her main gift, and then I rounded it out with a few books, blocks, some wooden farm animals, and...a toy piano.

That doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?!

Ah, maybe it is. The thing is, I can't help it. Well, alright, yes I could help it but I don't want to. Toys are so awesome and fun! Whee!

There is one small gift that LB received in her stocking that I am the most proud of, though. I think part of the joy of gift giving is really knowing the person to whom you are giving a gift, and really knowing what makes them happy, and Internet, I totally nailed it when LB pulled from her stocking this amazing thing:

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Can you guess what it is?

It's...it's...it's...it's...LB's very own...:

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Key chain!

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Complete with keys!

Yes, she got her own key chain with two keys because there's nothing she loves more in the world than my keys. There's also nothing in the world she can lose faster than my keys, so it was time to give her a set of her own.

I hang them up with our keys, and when it's time to go out I hand LB hers. We get ready, I ask her if she has her keys, we 'lock' the door, and then we go downstairs, I bundle her into her stroller, and for a solid twenty minutes afterwards she plays with the key chain, scratching the pony's gigantic eyes, handling the keys, and fielding strangers' questions about what her keys go to.

(Our old storage unit and the front door to my parents' house, FTW!) 

I think this is possibly my favourite thing we gave her.