Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Barbie Dolls

What is the deal with Barbie dolls today? My daughter has a few, but she has little interest in playing with them. When I was a kid, some 30 years ago cough, cough, Barbie was a big part of girlhood in my neighborhood. With my mother being a feminist of sorts, my two sisters and I were not allowed to have baby dolls or to play house. But we were allowed stuffed animals and Barbies. Mother was all about consistency wink, wink.

My girlfriends and sisters and I would play for hours with them. We made stuff out of shoe boxes if we didn't have the right Barbie furniture. We lost lots of little shoes. We ran over Ken in the Barbie Corvette because, well, we didn't see much point in having Ken around. We made a school, fashion show, pool and house- all sized for Barbie. We took the dolls to the beach, to the pool, on car trips, to grandma's house. We even had some of my aunt's Barbie stuff from when she was a kid. We traded Barbie stuff. We got each other Barbie birthday gifts. We tried to blow dry her hair and paint her nails. Never turned out well. We popped off Barbie's head and switched her body. We got a Cher doll and were disappointed we couldn't swap her clothes with Barbie- wrong size.

At the time, I didn't think much about the impossible body proportions she had. I just wished her shoes stayed on better. Finally at the age of 12, I decided I had outgrown Barbie and I sold all my Barbie stuff at our family garage sale.

Do girls still play with Barbies? Did Mattell ruin it by making specialized Barbies and cheap accessories to zap out any imaginative play? Read this interesting article. I did notice a change when I ran across Dentist Barbie. I don't see much Barbie action around my daughter's circle of friends. This may be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.
Barbie's website is awfully sparkly, but she does say "I love to play sports. It's a great way to get fit and have fun."
So in conclusion, I think the smart girl can have fun with Barbie and keep a healthy body image for themselves. It will be interesting to see where Barbie goes these next few years.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dare to be a Smart Girl

I go back and forth on whether or not I want my four year old daughter to grow up faster. We can't go out all day (shops, galleries, museums) yet, because we still have to do "snack" and there is the "dragging her around" stage that inevitably happens. Not looking forward to hug and kiss rationing for mom or the all day phone-a-thons about nothing with her girlfriends or gasp! boyfriends. But to see a hint of the woman she will become is exciting, yet her doe-eyed innocence is to be cherished. Yesterday, on the way home from a friend's birthday party she asks me in the car "Mom, what do you think Sara's life will bring her now that she is five?"

Anyway, maybe I want her to grow up a wee little bit to do some of the more daring things in the fantastic book The Daring Book for Girls by Andy Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. BTW, Miriam was nice enough to email me back and support my work here on the smart girls blog.

I will list some chapter titles and you will see how much fun this book will be for me, I mean for dear daughter! I think even the adult smart girls (you know who you are!) would love this book too. Hayley- there is a section on short-sheeting beds on page 194 ;) There are so many great chapters, didn't want to leave any out. So I will post the second half sometime later.
I hope to use the book a lot this summer!

The Daring Book For Girls


Essential Gear
Rules of the Game: Basketball
Rules of the Game: Net Ball
Palm Reading
The History of Writing, and Writing in Cursive Italics
Fourteen Games of Tag
Spanish Terms of Endearment, Idioms and Other Items of Note
Daring Spanish Girls
Pressing Flowers
Four Square
Princesses Today
How to Whistle with Two Fingers
Chinese Jump Rope
Double Dutch Jump Rope
How to Tie a Sari
Hopscotch, Tether ball, Jump Rope
Queens of the Ancient World I: Wise Artemisia
Knots and Stitches
Rules of the Game: Softball
Caring for your Softball Glove
Playing cards: Hearts and Gin
South Sea Islands
Putting your Hair up with a Pencil
Cartwheels and Back Walk-overs
Lemon Powered clock
Every Girl's Toolbox
Going to Africa
Bandanna Tying
Five Karate Moves
The Daring Girls Guide to Danger
French Terms of Endearment, Expressions and Other Items of Note
Joan of Arc
Making a Willow Whistle
Periodic Table of Elements
Vinegar and Baking Soda
Rules of the Game: Bowling
Queens of the Ancient World II: Salome Alexandra of Judea
Secret Garden
Friendship Bracelets
Slumber Party Games
Making a Cloth-Covered Book
A Short History of Women Inventors and Scientists
The Sit-Upon
Lamp, Lantern, Flashlight
Campfire Songs
Abigail Adam's Letters with John Adams
Clubhouses and Forts
Daisy Chains and Ivy Crowns
God's Eyes/ Ojos de Dios
Writing Letters
Reading Tide Charts
Making a Siene Net
Women Spies
How to be a Spy

Now I do have some lemons and could use a new clock. Going to see if dear daughter is available for some daring adventure............

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yes, It is a Cookie

See post below for more cookie info!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Smart Cookie

Isn't this cookie fabulous?
I am lucky enough to know her creator. CeRae has her own cookie business Sweet Dreams here in California. Lucky for everyone out there, she can ship her cookies just about anywhere. We are cooking (well, she is cooking) up something for my daughter's upcoming birthday. Will show ya later ;)

Here are a few more examples of her incredible creations:

I love to see creative women start their own businesses. Great role models for our girls!

So I decided to ask CeRae a few questions about how she got her business started. Please share with any smart girls in your neck of the woods!

Where did you grow up?
My Dad was in the army, and my parents were divorced when I was six. So my sister and I moved A LOT. I was born in California, but we also lived in Germany, Texas,Florida, and Oklahoma, with a few other stops in between.

What was the first kind of baking you did?
I didn’t start baking until I was a grown up, but I do remember my Aunt teaching me how to make scrambled eggs when I was 8. I stood on a stool at the stove, and she helped me step by step. I was very proud of myself and thought it was the neatest thing to be able to make breakfast for my cousins, and I’ve loved scrambled eggs ever since!

What did your parents do to encourage you to succeed in life?
My Mother is a very smart girl! She worked very hard to work and go to nursing school when we were kids. She also loves to read. She encouraged my love of reading and always encouraged me to work hard in school and to go to college.

What education do you have?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Entomology from The Evergreen State College in Washington State. I also went to art school for one year in Philadelphia, PA. I love science and studying the natural world. I see beauty, color,and art in everything around me - from an insect under a microscope, to wildflowers blooming in the spring, to COOKIES!

How did you learn to decorate cookies so beautifully?
I was invited to a Holiday cookie exchange party in 2006 and decided to decorate some
snowflake cookies like ones I had seen on a magazine cover. I read some directions on
basic cookie frosting, mixed up some colors, and experimented until I came up with
some of my own designs that I liked. Each cookie I’ve done since then is basically the same process.

When did you start your cookie business?
Since everyone at the cookie exchange party liked my cookies so much, I thought I might be on to something. So, around the spring of 2007 I decided to start Sweet Dreams.

What is the best part of your job?
Being able to express myself creatively, spending time in my kitchen, and making people smile!

What part do you find the most difficult?
Finding enough time to do it all.

Have you had any huge kitchen disasters?
During this past Christmas season I had a lot of cookie orders to fill. I was working around the clock to make sure that I had enough cookies. One morning I found my 3 year old hiding behind a chair in his brother’s room. He had taken one of my cookies,unwrapped it, and was nibbling away!!
What I learned from this was to always try to be prepared - since then I make sure
to decorate a few extra cookies (in case some get broken... or eaten :)

What kinds of cookie activities would you recommend to smart girls?
Let your imagination go wild! Any idea can be made into a cookie. There are hundreds of cookie cutter shapes out there. And if you can’t find the shape you’re thinking of,you could get a grown up to help you make a cookie cutter (there are kits available online). I make a lot of my own cookie cutters. Think of the cookie as a piece of paper,and the frosting as paint - it really is a piece of artwork that you can eat when you’re finished!


I would like to thank CeRae for doing the first official Smart Girls Fun Interview. As you can see, I know a smart girl when I see one :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Starring in Your Own Fairytale

I drew this fairy yesterday. My first real art contribution to my graphic design collection. I put her in a few designs in my smart girls store. Anyway, I think she turned out pretty good ;) And I like the frog prince design. I hope you can check it out. Don't miss the mother earth section- one hidden in there.

Keeping it short and sweet today because we are on our way out. Going on our last ski trip and the darn cabin has no wireless. Boohoo I will be blogless!

Speaking of sweet, I hope I will have a sweet surprise for you all next week.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Roller Coaster Ride

this parenting stuff is. I had better get used to it. Just when I was thinking things are going well for our girls, I see this article. What the heck is this? Disturbing sure. But what is driving teenage girls to send nude photos out on cell phones? Do they think it will be kept private? Do they want it to be forwarded? Why are they risking so much to be seen as sexual? What is it costing them? Is it not enough to be sexual in private- now they need to show the world? Are porn queens at the career day fair?

I remember the high school hormone days. But I didn't see or hear about any naked pictures in circulation. OK there was the one time one girl pulled out a Polaroid picture and flashed us freshman with it in the girls locker room. That was traumatic enough!

Is it just technology? Are teens wired different now? Is it the media MTV, VH-1, surfing the net? I just don't get it. I wish I knew a teen girl well enough to have a candid conversation about it. I just don't get why this is "the norm." In my opinion, it is hard enough to come to terms with your sexual self in high school. Figuring out how to deal with hormones, emotions and respect for yourself without planning your next porn pose to send out on the world wide web.

I guess forwarding pictures of your A papers would not get you up in the ranks of the skanks in high school. Just say NO to teen porn! LOL it is sad that little girls can use that message.............................

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nim's Island

Our whole family saw this movie last weekend and LOVED it. It is based on the book by Wendy Orr. I think it is a good movie for smart girls because:

the main character is a girl
girl is self-directed
girl loves to read
girl swims, climbs, uses tools
girl does not apply makeup
girl has adventures
girl has fun
girl has a respectful dad and wonderful relationship with him
girl does NOTHING to catch or want a boyfriend

Of course, there is the absent (tragically lost) mother. And there is a little damsel-in-distress element. But the savior shows up as a neurotic woman. Woman and girl kind of save each other. BTW said woman is Jodie Foster and she is just FANTASTIC in a split-your-side-giggling role.
I hightly recommend the film for everyone. And the cinematography is incredible!
I need to read the book now.

It must be the spring air because I found more good news for girls. Our elementary school's gazette had the following announcement:

Attention All 4th-8th Grade Girls:
Girl Scout Engineering Day
At Local Polytechnic State University
Saturday, May 17, 2008
9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Come have fun in hands-on labs in:
Aerospace Engineering
Materials Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Environmental Engineering
and Forensic Science

So a big Hooray Award for the girl scouts and all the universities/organizations hosting Girl Scout Engineering Days. Even if your girl is not a scout, check out the girlsgotech site and watch for any upcoming events in your area.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Webkinz World

All three of my kids have been busy with Webkinz stuff for the past 5 months or so. I really like the concept. For those not familiar, basically you buy a small stuffed animal. $5-$20@. Toy comes with a code and kids go online to the webkinz website and "register" their pet. They pick out a username, name their pet, and chose male or female for their pet. They get a starter amount of "kinzcash." The Webkinz website is like training for real life. They have to decide where to spend their money. They have to feed their pet, take it to the doctor, exercise pet and play with it, furnish it's room. They can also go to the job board and work for more money, or play an arcade game or answer quiz questions. I like the unisex reality. My boys both love to "cook" and grow gardens. My daughter's favorite is gem mining. You can buy clothes- pinky stuff available. But nowhere does it say "pretty princess" on the clothes. If webkinz adhered to popular kid marketing strategy- the boys would be buying guns and the girls would be buying cell phones. And they would have separate stores, jobs, chat rooms and games. The only thing I found distasteful was the real life webkinz lip gloss and body spray for girls. I just don't think girls (ages 5-12 which is the target age) need to worry about what their body smells like. Luckily, I only see the toys and the trading cards at the stores.

The kids can go to different chat rooms and interact with kids all over the world, play tournament games and visit each other's rooms. It all seems predator-safe. The kids can only pick from scripted choices for the "chats" and visits. There is no dialogue in the tournament arena. I am really not doing the webkinz justice. There is so much to do, and room for kids to find their own niche within the site. Oh and I personally love the post office. Kids can send virtual (scripted) letters and gifts to other kids. They have to pay kinzcash postage and for any extras: gift wrap, etc.

If you are curious- check it out! And my 9yo third grade boy just has a blast. I don't think he is bragging to his friends about it, but he sure has fun ;) They have bulldog, gorilla, frog, tiger toy for the non-foofoo kids.

So Webkinz gets a big Smart Kids Award from me. Great gifts for birthday parties!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Kmart, Shmaymart

OK, I did go in and ask to see the manager after picking up some of the horrible t-shirts, etc. at our local Kmart. Boy, that manager looked like he couldn't wait to talk to crazy wacko me. He was nice enough and admitted that:
1) maybe the messages were not the best (but he didn't think they were overtly horrible)
2) he would not let his own daughter wear any of them
3) they have pulled merchandise the management has found overtly offensive before
4) he would bring up at his next regional (or whatever) meeting that some customers are not happy with these graphic designs.

So I chalk up a teensy victory. I thanked him for his time, and told him he has a hard job. If anyone has ever worked retail, his job is pretty much a non-stop nightmare. And I did tell him that since my daughter is starting to read, she will not be going to the children's clothes section "because I do not want her to think that is what being a girl is all about."

I would encourage anyone that feels the same, to please take a couple of minutes and discuss the matter with the store manager. Maybe each little complaint will equal big change- someday!

OK now for some funny kid stories. We are doing our spring round up outside. Dear hubby pays the kids to pull the weeds. We were quite surprised when dear daughter was crying when her brother pulled "her" weed. It turns out she got some carrot seeds, planted them months ago in the flower bed and forgot about them. Pulled up the bunch to find some carrots. They were pretty tasty!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Kmart Saga Continues...

So as some of you know, I am still furious about the HORRIBLE graphic tees I recently found at our local Kmart. I wrote them an email, got a form response. I then said I wanted to communicate with the parent company and a customer service rep gave me the corporate address for SEARS.
I just mailed them a letter, reiterating what I said in my Boo Hiss post. I will let you know if I get any response.

So it is funny how things work out. I was checking out the hardy girls healthy women website today and found an article about girls in action from December 2006. These girls were protesting Kmart and their awful t-shirt depicting violence on a girl cartoon character by a boy. Kmart/Sears tried to say it was "light-hearted." I am really at a loss with this company. For over a year now (at least) they chose to bimbo-fy, degrade and occasionally show violence on little girls ages 4 and up?

I obviously need to do more research on Kmart and their history. I have looked extensively at Kmart's competition (locally) and I can safely say that Target, Kohl's, Mervyn's, Walmart and The Children's Place have markedly better messages for girls on their graphic apparel. If I don't get the answers I want, I smell a petition or at least a lot of squawking from me. I am just tired of the disrespect I am seeing at this store. I will talk to the manager tomorrow. If anybody reading this blog finds these kind of t-shirts at their local store and you feel strongly they should not be there, please call the manager and tell him or her. Maybe they will finally get the message.

And I want to personally thank Drs. Lamb and Brown for getting back to me so promptly and allowing me to quote their book Packaging Girlhood (my inspiration book) on this blog.