Monthly Archives: October 2010

Halloween- Be afraid, Very afraid!




courtesy of everythingscary.com

 

Halloween is one of those seasonal holidays that can spook even the most perfect moms.  You can be the best mommy in the world but yet Halloween can be daunting and terrifying.  And I’m not even talking about the ghosts and goblins and ghoulish costumes that can be seen this time of year.  I’m talking about the proverbial, yearly worry that starts sometime in August and goes until about October 28th:  What will I dress up my kids up as this year?  What are they going to be this year?  
  
If you’re a parent, you know you struggle yearly with this made-up little holiday where custom requires your kids to dress up – at school, at your office party, at a friend’s house party, and then again on Halloween night to go door to door.  Everyone’s watching, waiting, and judging…. “what will her kids be this year?”  And the worst part is that once you have a great costume one year, you have to come up with an even better idea the next year.  No joke!  It’s a competitive mom’s worst nightmare!  She has to out-do her colleagues at work, her friends on the block, and definitely cannot be outdone at the kids’ school  – now that would be bad!  So, the stress sets in sometime in September and by October 22, if there is no costume idea or purchase in the works, some moms may even experience severe stress. 
Last year was easy, my kids dressed up as Dora and Boots- my little one was only 8 months old and the older one barely knew who Dora was.  So, it was easy.  Getting creative on my costume though every year has gotten progressively harder.  Last year, my husband had a great idea and made my costume.  You can see it in the picture to the left.   Yes, I was an ARRA-cone or construction cone funded by the Recovery Act (stimulus funds).  Being in the construction law arena, this was hilarious to my colleagues.  No one in my neighborhood got it though.  In previous years I was an 8 Ball because I was pregnant and before that, I was a flower and my little one a bumble bee.  I was nursing then – how appropriate.  Before I had kids, I was once a TSA officer- I even had my own wand to scan people!  If my office didn’t have such great Halloween parties at the office, I wouldn’t even bother to dress up.  But alas, I work in an office that boasts nice social events and promotes morale.  Just great!  
This year, I was able to make a stop at a thrift shop (ARC in Lakewood, Colorado on Colfax Blvd) to get ideas and mainly to scrounge what I could for the kids’ costumes and mine.  I think we are well on our way to looking cute enough but still I wonder… what will others come up?  Will our outfits be okay?  What will the other kids at my child’s school be wearing?  Will I be cool mommy or bad mommy?  Well, I guess we will find out – all I know is that Halloween is scary for moms and parents in general — it is spooooooky, not because of the decorations or the scary things associated with it, but because of this arduous task of having to find a costume not just for yourself but for your kids as well.  Often, the kids need to match or there is some family theme.  Oh good lord!  In a month when mommies are doing so much and also trying to figure out what the Ballot measures and initiatives are, come on!   Do we need all this pressure?  Well, stay tuned for our Halloween pictures and review of the thrift stores in the area.
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Technicolor* Fall- my favorite season of all!

Last week we returned from our trip to Virginia and I marveled at the beautiful fall colors as we drove into our neighborhood.   The best place to view the fall colors in Colorado- my own front and backyard!  I have to say Fall is my favorite season in Colorado – even though I love every moment here, Fall just captures my heart.  From the beautiful rustic-colored leaves, to the crisp autumn air, Fall in Colorado is breathtaking!  
Fall is also a great time of year to entertain because you can still have days when you can run outside and Bar-B-Q, and yet still be able to drink hot cocoa at night.  It’s that perfect time of year when your wardrobe can match the amazing scenery right outside your own home and reds, yellows, and oranges brings out  just about everything!   Even our home looks beautiful set behind the red-leafed tree.  Another beautiful thing about Fall and its colors is the back drop of the harvest moon… when it shines on you, and the spooky tree with fallen leaves waves in the wind in your neighbor’s yard on Halloween eve, you can’t help but know that the holidays are right around the corner.
Oh, technicolor fall in Colorado- my favorite season of all! 
*Technicolor is the trademark for a series of color film processes pioneered by Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation (a subsidiary of Technicolor, Inc.), now a division of Thomson SA. reference:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technicolor

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Signs of the Times Part 2, Children’s Cartoons

My original blog posting, or part one Signs of the Times, Children’s Cartoons was about a few cartoons or shows I had seen when my older daughter was a bit younger.  Of course, now there are a plethora of shows out there, all very interesting in my opinion, and a good reason why kids should not watch too much TV. 

picture courtesy of google search

Anyway, in my original post, I talked about Sesame Street and how much it has changed, Dora the Explorer and Spongebob.  In this update, I want to talk about Max and Ruby.  Several of us have talked about how odd this show is from a parent’s perspective.  Of course, all the cartoons are make belief and about imagination and that is how we end up with 5 and 6-year olds running through the woods with adventures but this one is about two bunnies- a brother and sister.  It’s odd for the first few times I saw this show, I thought Ruby (the one with the yellow apron on) was the mommy and Max was the son. Presumably, I assumed Ruby was a single mom since a daddy never enters the picture.  That was not the case as I watched the intro credits one day.  Ruby is the big sister and Max is the naughty, little brother.  It was interesting to all of us that Max & Ruby live alone, and Ruby is the parental figure to this younger kid.  Rarely is an adult present and only the grandmother comes to visit sometimes.  When she comes, it seems like Ruby is running around trying to make the place look nice and cooking.  The entire show is odd but I guess is supposed to show the kinship of siblings and the love between them including what happens in our society often these days:  an older sibling guiding and taking care of a little one.  It’s interesting to me because Ruby never attends school and neither does little brother Max.  I just hope Ruby is over 12 ’cause they shouldn’t be home alone!  🙂 

Stay tuned for future children’s cartoon posts and if you have any thoughts please share them here… I always love to see what other parents think of the children’s programming these days.  It sure has changed since when we were growing up.

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The Gender Gap- still alive and well in Children’s Books

If you’re a parent, you are used to the routine of buying good books and reading to your kids.  It’s a great time to share with your child and see their reactions.  Our little one just started day care/school and she currently loves scratch and sniff books – in fact, she loves a couple of her books so much, she wants to cuddle up with them in bed before she sleeps.  I’ve read this book in particular a few times along with the Usborne series of books.  What most interests me in a book as an adult is not the stickers or the pictures but rather the political messages and in particular, the gender stereotypes that are still prevalant in society. 

I’m very amazed by the stereotypes I still see in Children’s books – these are more dominant these days for gender than race.  I could write this blog for pages and pages but this is just a sampling of some of the books I have encountered that I believe contains stereotypical behaviors.  For example, the one book my little one likes is titled The Gingerbread Family.  This book is cute and all the pages smell yummy enough to eat.  But to me, of interest was the page where Mr. Gingerbread is fishing on blueberry while the Mommy is baking a cake.  I know, I know… I need to relax… after all, mommies bake and daddies fish right?  But what was neat was my reversal trick on my kid.  So, I was reading and changed their genders so mommy was fishing on blueberry lake and daddy was baking the angel food cake, and my older daughter immediately pointed to my “mistake”:  She said, “no mommy – daddies fish and the mommy is the one baking the cake…. you said it wrong!”  I asked her why mommies could not fish.  She immediately and urgently pointed out, “that’s just not how it is mommy! Daddies can’t bake and mommies just don’t know how to fish!”  It was quite interesting and made me realize the stereotypes she is already learning.  What next?
Another one of my favorites is the Usborne Books (First Experiences), wrought with gender stereotypes.  But I gotta say, out of all the children’s books where parents are depicted, the parents in the Usborne books look the most realistic – tired and often, exhausted.  In the Usborne (First Experience) book, Going to the Doctor, you see the Jay Family.  Mrs. Jay does not work and looks exhausted the entire book.  She is responsible for three kids, a dog and a cat.  She ends up taking the kids to the doctor.  Joey needs immunizations while Jack has a broken arm.  Mrs. Jay looks like she is on lithium the entire book- exhausted, somewhat alert but not really.  In any case, the best part of the book is the last few pages.  Mrs. Jay has her feet up on a recliner and looks absolutely wiped out after dealing with three kids, two of whom are sick, and two pets all day.  You see Mr. Jay returning from a day at work peering around the corner (assessing damage most likely) and again, the biggest gender stereotype is enforced which is not alive and well in today’s society:  Daddy works hard all day to bring home the bacon, goes to work all day, and comes home in the evenings, praying the kids are wiped out.    Hopefully, mom will get a break after daddy gets home but who can be sure?  
In the Usborne First Experience book, Going on a Plane, the Tripp Family goes on a plane trip.  Mr. Tripp has 2 glasses of wine on his international trip while Mrs. Tripp does not.  I think the stereotype is that men drink and women don’t.  Come on, with three kids and 2 pets at home, Mrs. Tripp should have gotten her drink on in this book.  You get a slight glimpse of the stereotype here but it’s a lot more subtle than Going to the Doctor. Of course, the counter argument to my entire blog is “hey, lighten up! It’s just a children’s story!”  That would be correct.  There are plenty of books who depict things they way they are and plenty of books on little girls growing up to be President.  I completely get it but wanted to point out how gender stereotypes tend to be more slanted towards women than men even today.  When in fact, in many households across America, there has been a significant role reversal.  Granted, mommies tend to (on average) take better care of kids and nurture them but that does not mean they do not do so many other things like work (often more than one job), fight in our nation’s military, cook dinner, and take care of the household chores and let’s not even forget about the single moms out there.

As a working military mom I tend to think these books are the most likely to paint a picture that mommy is the caregiver and looks after the house and dads go out and work.  As a mother of two daughters, I plan on doing my best to ensuring that my daughters do not believe these stereotypes.  As they progress from grade school through high school, I am sure they will experience and encounter countless stereotypes- both gender and race and it’s my job to disspell those.  Right now, they are far too innocent to see what I do in these books and that’s a huge relief but I do hope that one day they realize that they can be anything they want despite of what gender stereotypes there may be out there – alive and well in society. 

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Get Clued In goes to Virginia!

The girls and I visited my parents in Virginia Beach.  What a relaxing trip!  It was nice to not have to deal with worrying about what to feed the kids because my mom is an amazing cook and grandma.  The park is nearby and we made a few trips there along with the beach- yes, we got lucky in October and got to visit the beach earlier in the week.  We had a few cultural events because October generally marks Navratri– a Hindu celebration in honor of the Goddess Durga.  It involves prayers, dance, lights, singing, and getting dressed up and ends on the 10th day which commemorates the Ramayan and the defeat of Ravana (evil) by Lord Ram (good).  Of course, there is always food involved – if it’s an Indian celebration, there’s always food and sweets involved.  It is always fun to celebrate such events with family and friends. 

Here are just a couple pics of our trip to the beach.  I have to say the weather was amazing and we got to enjoy the beach twice during our trip! The 10-day trip ended with a visit from my friends in Richmond, my brother from D.C. and my husband who came out to hang out with us and make the long trek back to Colorado. 
Next post: Back home blues 🙂  Kidding.  But it was really great to have this time for R&R, fun with family, and celebrate festivities with my folks.  The girls looked adorable in their Indian outfits and they had a great time with their nana and nani (maternal grandparents).  Stay tuned for more fun-filled blogs! 
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