Archive for the 'Well-Rounded Kid' Category

A Cookie Story

Photo: BeeInOurBonnet

Photo: BeeInOurBonnet

Ollie and I made oatmeal cookies last night. They turned out misshapen and crumbly. Kind of an aesthetic disaster, but tasted fine. We kept them. I ditched the recipe.

I dubbed them Ugly Cookies and got in trouble. “That’s not a nice thing to say,” Ollie said.

Stupid is a bad word, too. Sometimes J or I say something is “stupid” in conversation with each other, and you’d be surprised how many times you hear “stupid” on TV, even (especially) kids’ shows. The Bad Word Police corrects us. He’s got some serious radar for forbidden words.

Mean words, bad words – whatever you call them at your house – they hurt, period. And I’m glad we’re making Ollie aware (and he, us). Kids, with their innocence and lack of a filter, say things that hurt sometimes out of sheer ignorance. That’s why having these discussions, often, matter. You know, so you don’t end up with a bigger kid with a  mean-word problem (aka: a bully).

I think Ollie has a good handle on things, but we will continue our diligence. And he will continue his.

The part that kills me is that I can’t control what other kids say to my child. In my personal experience, as a sensitive kid, mean words hurt, fester, then dissipate, but never actually leave. If you’re dubbed “dumb,” “ugly,” or “fat” among peers (or god forbid, adults), even if you aren’t, even if they grow up, even as time passes, even if they forget – you never forget. Even though mean words are completely illogical, completely absurd when you think about it with your adult mind, your child mind still hangs on.

I guess we just have to watch what we, the adults, say at home. Make sure we’re very careful about throwing around mean words, even if it’s a joke. Even if we’re literally poking fun of cookies – that we made. And keep nurturing confident kids and keep building our kids’ self worth so if mean words come their way (and they probably will), they feel good enough about themselves to know better. It’s all we can do. Now excuse me, I’m going to go have one of those, um, cookies.

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Girls’ Bathing Suits That Don’t Suck

It’s 2 degrees today in the Chicago burbs, but there’s an overnighter at a water park on my family’s horizon. We cannot wait!

D needs a new swimsuit. I struggled with how to present the utter disappointment I felt searching for one online. I have to assume if you like my blog, you would agree it’s not OK clothing designers sell string bikinis, high-cut bottoms, halter tops and so forth FOR BABIES. But that’s what I kept seeing over and over again online. Grrr.

For people who are curious as to how real this issue is – thinking maybe I’m exaggerating – google-image search “toddler girl bathing suit.”

I take solace in the fact that many of you parents with girls have crossed this horrifying bridge before – probably at least once a year. It just doesn’t seem right.

Well, instead of focusing on my icky feelings, show you some shocking examples and proceed to rant (I think I’ve done enough of that), I’d wanted to create a resource for parents seeking baby and toddler girl swimsuits that are age-appropriate, closer to the middle on the gender spectrum, affordable and cute as hell. And I have to say, putting this together demonstrated to me, to my relief, that there so many good options  that fall under one or more of those categories, I had trouble narrowing them down. Focusing on the good!

 Here we go:

One Piece 

Suit5

One Piece with Sarong 

suit3

Two Piece/Tankini

suit6

Suit with Rashguard

Suit2

Suit with Swim Brief

suit1

On Gender-y Stuff

I love this 1981 LEGO ad. To me, this is the quintessential happy kid.

There are some things as a parent I’ve vowed not to obsess over. Because they’re a waste of time and energy and don’t matter when it’s all said and done. If they ever matter to my child, it won’t be because I made them seem important when he was growing up.

Gender-y stuff is a big one. I don’t get all bent when my son points out the princess castle EVERY DAY at preschool (instead of say, the firetruck). Or flip a lid when he wants to hold his male friend’s hand. Or is curious about my makeup and fake applies blush to his face.

Because, guess what? KIDS ARE KIDS.

They like all of the toys (and the boxes the toys come in – *especially* the boxes the toys come in) and rocks and water and bugs and things you and I don’t even see anymore. They like being with their friends. They like showing friends affection and enthusiasm with hugs and hand-holding. Kisses, even. This is an innocent time. I fully intend to let my son enjoy this time without any adult’s ideas of what a boy or girl should be.

Children care about having fun and exploring the world – they do not differentiate between blue and pink, gay and straight, feminine and masculine. No, it’s the adults who do that.

I know I’m not being very scientific here (if my use of “gender-y stuff” is any indication). There are entire fields of study built around this topic. I know it’s more complicated than a blog post. I’m not naive.

But I know shaming a child for going outside of his or her gender stereotypes does not help in raising a confident, empathetic person (given that’s what we aim for). Limiting a child to a certain color or toy or area of interest does nothing to encourage independent thinking or discovery. Yanking a doll from a little boy’s hand because it’s “for girls,” for example, is basically telling him girl-things are wrong. That and the fact that there are things, as a boy, you can’t and should not enjoy or want. Talk about totally cutting your child off from a major part of the human experience.

Me? I’d like to keep my son’s innocent years free from the confines of the sort of bizarre creature that is gender role stereotypes. Having a happy child is more important to me than pretty much anything else in this world.

On Making the World Worthy of its Children

Pablo Picasso. Girl with a Boat (Maya Picasso). 1938. Oil on canvas. Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne, Switzerland.

This:

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” –Pablo Picasso

Sound It Out: Children’s Music Reviews

Children’s music has come a LOOONG way. I won’t name names, but not too long ago, a singing purple dinosaur roamed the earth. Thankfully, times have changed and now our children have access to everything from beloved folk songs given the indie rock treatment to pop punk with a friendly message. I admit to head bobbing to the better kids’ music out there and I would without a doubt take my family to see these bands live. In that vein, Mommy’s Alright will regularly round up some of the best new children’s music via “Sound It Out” posts. Here’s what we’re jamming to now …

Frances England: “Mind of My Own” – It doesn’t hurt that Frances England is ADORABLE, but looks aside, her indie-folk ditties are additively upbeat and imaginative. She so channels Ani DiFranco in “Cookies & Milk” and I’m falling hard for her aquatic homage to “friend of the ocean” Jacques Cousteau.

LISTEN: www.francesengland.com/music.php


The Boogers: “Let’s Go!” – It’s a no-brainer to combine the basic three-chord, two-minutes-or-fewer arrangements of punk legends The Ramones with the simplicity of children’s song lyrics. But in the wrong hands, it could be a complete disaster. Thankfully The Boogers came along and nailed it. With catchy pop punk tracks like “Let’s Go!” and “I’m Ridin’ My Bike,” The Boogers will definitely tide your tot over until he’s ready for the “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

LISTEN: http://www.meet-the-boogers.com


Keller Williams: “Kids” – Twangy Keller Williams is another artist who really gets it: simple, folk music with lyrics that are catchy and memorable combined with some background vocals by kids equals children’s music gold. It doesn’t hurt that it’s completely tolerable to mom and dad from a few-minute ride to preschool to a road trip. And, um, “Mama Tooted” is cracking me up right now. “It was not me/It was not you … It was mama – mama tooted.” Ha ha!

Listen: http://kellerwilliams.shop.musictoday.com/Dept.aspx?cp=34597_40577

Justin Roberts: “Jungle Gym” – With James Taylorish vocals and a super-catchy, jangly sound, Justin Roberts lives up to his hype. I’m really digging the horns in “Sleepoverland” and “Gym Class Parachute” was the story of my life in Mrs. Houlihan’s kindergarten class ca. 1983. Looked forward to that every single day.

LISTEN: www.justinroberts.org/music.php


Elizabeth Mitchell: “Sunny Day” – This album is a breath of fresh air because it features simple sing-along songs for all ages. I particularly dig the traditional American folk pieces (“This Little Light of Mine”) and  ethnic nursery rhymes (“Tsuki”). I also love that Elizabeth Mitchell’s husband Daniel Littleton and their daughter Storey make numerous cameos, giving it that real family-oriented feel without sounding corny or contrived.

LISTEN: www.folkways.si.edu/explore_folkways/sunny_day.aspx

Laurie Berkner Band: “Best Of” – Laurie Berkner Band super fans and newbies alike will want this disc. Between her playful songs about rocket ships, bumblebees and pigs, pretty harmonies and sing-along leanings, it’s no wonder her music is so well-loved. “Fast and Slow” is still my favorite with its jig-ability and changing tempos. You might have seen the uber-cute vid on Nick Jr.

LISTEN: www.laurieberkner.com/site/music.php


DidiPop: “Goes to Hawaii” – What better place to draw inspiration for a children’s album than where the ukuleles riff in a tropical breeze, the ocean is at your doorstep and plumeria of every color seem to appear out of thin air? A word of caution, though: DidiPop “Goes to Hawaii” could end up being the most expensive album you ever buy your kids – no doubt they are going to want to see what all the fuss is about in the Aloha State.

LISTEN: www.didipop.com/listen.php

Boobs. So What?

It was a little overboard for Sesame Street to axe the very cute, very innocent Katy Perry/Elmo duet about playing dress up to the tune of “Hot N Cold.”

The argument parent-censors are posing is that her cleavage is too racy for the preschool set.

I don’t get it.

I think people who see sex in every little thing are kind of pervy. Not to mention, parents who are afraid they might have to talk about boobs or other body parts with their kids are just plain in denial.

And, I’m also biased. I’m amused by Perry’s goofy, colorful personality and find her way more kitschy and campy than sexy and lusty. Plus, I’m kind of addicted to the original version of this song.

Like everything in the universe, parents should be the ultimate decision-makers of what is OK and not OK to view at home. To expect TV to make those decisions is impractical and frankly, lazy parenting.

I have to add, though, it was mildly entertaining to debate this issue with a crazy lady on Chicago Parent’s Facebook fan page. I recoiled after she cited Eve and the devil in the Garden of Eden “for our need to view a body as sexual.”

And now, a look at famous boobs (some more figurative than literal) you and your kids have already seen …

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Foodie Friday: Phony Fiber, Vapid Veggies

Remember you kind of secretly knew miniature chocolate chip cookie cereal was not an acceptable breakfast, but begged your mom for a box of Cookie Crisp anyway? For my sisters and me, it was a Saturday morning treat.

Remember slurping up Chef Boyardee Beefaroni so obnoxiously that it left you with a brownish-red sauce mustache? And were you shocked the first time you saw and tasted actual pasta bolognese? Or maybe you are like me and although you can spot authentic food, you still find comfort in canned slop on occasion.

I admit to eating and enjoying junk food sometimes. But even at a young age, I knew the difference between actual food and junk food. And we always had a variety of homemade dinners and fresh fruit and veggies in the house.

As a newish mom, I am really having a hard time with corporations trying to slip vitamins, nutrients and fiber into junk food, though, thinking they are going to win points with parents.

If you’re a parent and  you think it’s OK not to offer veggies to your child anymore b/c the Chef is now putting a serving in their faux canned pasta, you’re wrong.

If you think you don’t need to serve your kids fresh fruits and whole grains because Kellogg is adding fiber to their sugary cereals, think again.

I’d like to give parents more credit than to believe they think it’s OK to use processed foods to supplement fiber/vegetable intake.

And for the parents like me that KNOW you can’t plop a dish of Beefaroni down in front of your kids and expect that to sustain them, don’t you feel a little insulted? Do we appear so lazy and ignorant that marketing people are going there?! And about the kids – is it wrong to teach them that veggies can taste good and shouldn’t be frowned upon?

If you’re truly struggling to get your child to eat real food, consider getting creative with food like this lady.

As always, I encourage everyone to vote with their forks, question the  marketing hype and for goodness sakes, give your kids (and yourselves) a little more credit!


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